Ultimate guide to Solid Copper vs Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) Cables

So you are looking to buy ethernet cables but don’t know if you need solid copper or CCA, right? Or perhaps you are merely learning about the difference between both of these cables. Whatever the case may be, keep reading. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about pure solid copper and copper-clad aluminum ethernet cables. Solid copper ethernet cables have their conductors made from 100% pure copper and the Copper-clad aluminum cables have aluminum conductors with bare copper cladding on top. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but it reflects profoundly on the performance and capabilities of the two different types of Ethernet cables. This blog will discuss how solid copper ethernet cables are different from CCA cables. Let's dive in.

Solid copper ethernet cable

As implied by the term, solid copper ethernet cables are made out of a single piece of copper metal. These types of Ethernet cables are more efficient and transfer data at faster speeds. In addition, solid core cables are also better at transferring data over long distances. There is another variant of bare copper cables: Stranded core. These cables are made out of multiple strands of copper tightly bundled together to make one thicker cable conductor. For short distances, these cables are a better choice because they are easy to twist and turn, and may not resist interference as well as a solid core.

CCA ethernet cable

Copper-clad aluminum conductors, also known as the acronym CCA, are the top-notch cables if you have a limited budget. They are made out of an aluminum base metal plate with bare copper. The bare copper plating allows the cable to perform better at transferring data, resisting harsh weather conditions, and for easy installation. These conductors are used in most of the ethernet cable categories such as Cat6, Cat5/e, and previous categories. However, in the latest categories of ethernet cables, these conductors are not used. That’s because the latest cables are high-performing in terms of speed, safety, and efficiency and CCA conductors do not feature extraordinary properties.

Ultimate guide to Solid Copper vs Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) Cables

When to use bare copper cables?

Well, the first reason you need to use solid core bare copper ethernet cables is when you want high-performance data transfer and other ethernet applications. But you might ask, what is high-performance. For instance, if you are installing cables in an office network, you will need premium quality solid core ethernet cables. On the other hand, you will also need these cables if you have high-speed and optimum efficiency requirements for a home network. It is apparent you run a business from home or if you are working remotely.

When to use CCA cables?

Copper Clad Aluminum conductors are used in small-scale business and home networks. For instance, if you use regular ethernet applications at home, you can get a perfect connection with CCA ethernet cables. Similarly, if your business requirements do not involve high-performance applications, use CCA cables. They will work fine and you won’t have connectivity or performance issues. However, note that these cables are not as safe as their counterparts. Because the aluminum base of the cable conductor can heat up much faster than copper and it might cause a fire hazard. You can prevent such an event from happening by running the cable at short lengths. You can use these cables if you have high-performance requirements but a limited budget. But make sure you run them at shorter lengths and get them with the recommended cable jacket. For example, get plenum-rated CCA cables for plenum-rated spaces and riser-rated CCA cables for riser-rated spaces.

 Solid Copper vs Copper-Clad Aluminum: Comparison

  • Safety: Solid core cables are safer than CCA conductors.
  • Performance: CCA cables perform decently in small networks but cannot compete with the performance of solid-core copper cables.
  • Affordability: CCA ethernet cables are more affordable than bare copper cables.
  • Easy to use: Both types of cables have almost the same degree of ease of installation. But copper cables guarantee a safer one because of their higher bend radius. They are also pliable for easy twists and turns.
  • Application: Bare copper cables have a wider range of applications such as in schools, offices, factories, hospitals, etc. CCA cables on the other hand can only be used in home networks and small-scale business networks.

In short, solid copper ethernet cables are better than CCA cables in almost every aspect. But in certain conditions such as budget limitations or small network purposes, CCA conductors are an ideal choice.