Busbars are usually metallic strips comprising copper, aluminium, or brass, grounding and conducting electricity. They have a soft, ductile and malleable metal with high thermal and electrical conductivity. Many prefer them on account of their excellent temperature resilience, which provides additional security amidst short circuit instances.

As stated above, copper is a preferred metal for busbars. It is a versatile material exhibiting low electrical and thermal resistance and superb mechanical strength. Copper also shows high resistance to fatigue failure properties, making it a key element in the busbars of electrical utilities. Some common applications include panel boards, switchgear, and busway enclosures for local high-current power distribution.

If you’ve been searching for copper busbars or flats and looking for guidance on it, you’ve reached the right page. It is a comprehensive guide discussing various aspects associated with copper busbars like a comparison between copper and aluminium busbars, tips to choose the best copper busbars for switchboards, etc.

Benefits of Copper Busbar Plating

The material used in busbars plays a significant role in achieving an enduring and stable service life at a minimal cost. It includes low electrical and thermal tolerance, compression, high resistance to fatigue failure, shear, low electrical resistance to surface films, high corrosion resistance, and fabrication ease.

Accordingly, busbars usually comprise aluminium or copper – although the latter is more beneficial. While we will look at the comparison between copper and aluminium busbars, we’ll first see the benefits of copper busbars.

  • Copper has a higher conductivity.
  • It exhibits greater hardness that offers higher resistance to mechanical damage during erection and while in service.
  • The cold metal movement under the continuous application of high contact pressure causes copper busbars to develop fewer issues in clamped joints.
  • Copper is more elastic, due to which it features a higher beam stiffness.
  • In-service conditions demand a particular amount of flexibility in the design due to temperature variations. Copper has a lower linear expansion coefficient that helps reduce the flexibility required.
  • The oxide film on the copper surface is conductive. That forms another reason for using copper as a material for busbars.

Why Choose Copper Busbars over Aluminium Busbars?

Aluminium also is a commonly used material for busbars. However, copper emerges as a clear winner in various ways, considering the numerous factors in which it has the upper hand. Let’s look at some reasons busbar manufacturers use copper over aluminium.

  • Connectors

Aluminium requires connectors rated for it. You can use aluminium-rated connectors for copper but not vice versa. Connectors rated for copper and aluminium will be marked to denote the rating. If the application requires soldering, copper is easier to deal with.

  • Dimensions

Aluminium busbar systems have larger dimensions. Hence, they may not be ideal for some applications like smaller structures or buildings or under-the-floor uses. But you can make copper busbar designs for almost any application, making it versatile.

  • Ratings

With a lower power loss, electrical resistance, resistance drop, and greater ampacity, copper emerges as a better alternative than aluminium. All these factors contribute to the busbar system’s efficiency. Nevertheless, if you look at weight as a comparing factor, aluminium proves a better option. Hence, you have the luxury and liberty of size, aluminium can form a more efficient and prudent alternative.

  • Cost

The numerous benefits that copper offers make it a little more expensive material choice than aluminium for busbars. However, in the long run, and with so many advantages on hand, you may want to ignore the price part and go for copper.

How to Choose the Right Copper Busbars for Low- and High-Voltage Switchboards?

Copper busbars are widely used in low- and high-voltage switchboards. So, here are some tips to select the well-suited copper busbars for switchboards.

  • Load Capacity Calculation

In switchboards, copper is installed in two forms, flat and vertical. The vertical load is a little higher than the flat one. Hence, the distribution cabinet’s primary busbar is usually in the vertical form. Copper wire load capacity changes with the ambient temperature. The load capacity derived should be multiplied by the correction factor for varying ambient temperatures. The higher the temperature, the lower the load capacity.

  • Choosing Copper Busbars for High-Voltage Switchboards

Copper busbars cross selection choice for high-voltage switchboards should fulfill a couple of requirements, including the rated current and the short-time withstand current. You can calculate the first through the load capacity. For calculating the second, the formula is GB3906 [Appendix D]: S = I/a√(t/△θ) where: I – rated short-term withstand current; a – material coefficient, copper 13, aluminum 8.5; t – rated short-circuit duration; △θ – temperature rise (K). For bare conductors, you should usually consider 180K, and for 4S duration, you should consider 215K.

  • Copper Busbar Manufacturer Reputation

While assessing a copper busbar on the above technical factors, you should also check the manufacturer’s reputation. It is because, obviously, the busbar’s quality matters! You should focus on sustainability and attributes in your context, rather than merely emphasizing the price. In addition to reputation, examine the manufacturer’s customer-centricity on aspects like customer support, maintenance, and warranty to make a choice that’s sustainable and provides significant returns on investment.

Where to Buy Superior and Reliable Copper Busbars?

Consider choosing Vidya Wires if you’ve been looking to purchase copper busbars for your application. Our range of copper flat bars includes Full Radius, Corner Radius, and Sharp Edge. We manufacture superior-quality copper busbars that enjoy widespread applications across switchgear and transformers. Our diverse clientele and excellent feedback speak for our success as a copper busbar manufacturer. Click to discover more about our copper busbars or write to inquiry@vidyawire.com.


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