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Are you Aware of the Risks of Copper Clad Aluminium Cables?

Are you Aware of the Risks of Copper Clad Aluminium Cables?

Over the past year, we have seen a resurgence in Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) RJ45 patch leads on the market, driven by a weakened pound and higher copper prices. The decrease in the strength of the pound, combined with the rising price of copper, has resulted in the price of pure copper patch leads (insulated cables with a plug at each end) to rise. With the market changing in such a way, it raises the question as to whether businesses should be considering a cheaper alternative or remain loyal to the industry standard when it comes to purchasing RJ45 patch leads.

RJ45 Patch Cable
 

What is the difference between Copper Clad Aluminium cables and pure copper patch leads?

Copper Clad Aluminium VS Pure Copper Cables
 

Copper Clad Aluminium cables are designed with an aluminium conductor at the core which has been coated in copper. This production technique uses less copper, offering a low-cost way for companies to produce patch leads. Manufacturers who use aluminium in place of copper to keep costs low may not follow the Sales of Goods Act 1979 and are altering the physical characteristics of the cable, in turn causing the cables to break more easily due to their lack of flexibility.

            

Pure copper patch leads are the more expensive solution, using more copper, a valuable material, to produce the cables. Pure copper patch leads provide customers with the best overall performance and safety and are the only cables which can be classified as Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a.

           

Do Copper Clad Aluminium cables meet the industry standard?

CCA cables do not comply with industry standard specifications. Therefore there is no such thing as a Copper Clad Aluminium Cat5e, 6 or 6a cable. The only patch leads which are classified as Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a are pure copper conductors. Patch leads in these categories are recognised by ISO/IEC 11801 regulations, whereas Copper Clad Aluminium cables cannot be classified or sold as category cables.

 
What are the dangers of using CCA?
Fire        

Fire Risk: Copper Clad Aluminium cables are not produced to be able to withstand Power Over Ethernet (POE) applications, which allows network cables to also carry electrical power. When power is applied in this case, the cables will rapidly overheat, with the initial temperature increase being twice the increase seen from a pure copper patch lead. Once the cable begins to overheat, the only way to return to a safe point is to switch the current off, although this could still have caused extensive damage to the cable and nearby cables. If the surrounding cables contain stranded Copper Clad Aluminium conductors, the impact of the heating will be further emphasised.

One example where using CCA can be particularly alarming is with the use of IP CCTV, where power is continually drawn through network cables 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, posing a major risk for heat to build up faster and be dissipated with potentially disastrous consequences with the severe danger of a fire.

 

Attenuation: Attenuation, meaning the reduction in signal strength which occurs over longer distances, is worse in Copper Clad Aluminium cables due to the higher bulk resistance of aluminium. This provides the risk of data loss, as more packets of data must be retransmitted. When using CCA cables, more data may need to be resent, meaning that your network performance becomes slower. This problem is further impacted depending on the length of the CCA cable being used, with your overall network performance reducing the longer the cable.

       
           
       

Breaking / Bending of the Cable: Copper Clad Aluminium cables are less flexible than pure copper patch leads due to aluminium being a less malleable material. Because of this, repeated bending of CCA cables may cause damage leading to them breaking. The TIA/EIA specified breaking strength of the cable will be difficult to pass, but it is essential that the Copper Clad Aluminium cables pass these breaking strength tests if they are to be used.

           

The cables also must pass the minimum 10% elongation at the break of the conductor, which has been specified by ISO/IEC, IEC and CENELEC standards. Additionally, current ISO and US TIA structured cabling standards specify that network cabling must be made from 100ohm copper, which CCA cables aren’t. These issues mean that when it comes to installing the cables, many may find the cables get damaged and break easily, which could lead to project delays if replacements have to be ordered.

 

What is the difference between CCA and Cca CPR?

You should be aware of CCA CPR, which stands for Construction Products Regulation (EU 305/2011), part of the European Union legislation. The CPR identifies numerous basic requirements that should be met by all cables that are going to be permanently combined within a building or construction. Some of these requirements include mechanical resistance and stability and safety in case of a fire. This is a positive change for the industry rather than CCA, which is a danger when used in patch lead cabling.

 
Where can you purchase Pure Copper Patch Leads?
 
Netshop are committed to ensuring that we always distribute the highest quality products to our customers.
We will never supply any non-copper conductive ethernet cabling.
 
All companies should know and understand the severity of the implications of using CCA cables. We would thoroughly recommend that you ask your cable supplier what they are offering you before purchasing.
 
For genuine Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a pure copper patch leads, get in touch today.