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CCA vs Copper

  • Are you Aware of the Risks of Copper Clad Aluminium Cables?cca banner


    Over the past year we have seen a resurgence in Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) 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 to rise. With these market changes in place, 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 patch leads.

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

    Copper Clad Aluminium cables are made from an aluminium conductor which has been coated in copper. This production technique uses less expensive materials, offering a low-cost way for companies to produce patch leads. Manufacturers who use aluminium in place of copper to keep costs low are in fact altering the physical characteristics of the cable, in turn causing the cables to break more easily due to the aluminium strands. When heat is applied to CCA cables, they will quickly become brittle and break.

    Pure copper patch leads are a more expensive solution, using more valuable materials to produce the cables. Pure copper patch leads provide the best overall performance whilst also offering safety for your network.

    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 will be pure copper conductors. Patch leads in these categories are recognised by copper conductor international regulations, whereas Copper Clad Aluminium cables cannot be classified or sold as category cables. If manufacturers are selling CCA cables and referring to them as meeting Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a specifications, they may not be following the Sales of Goods Act 1979.

    What are the risks of Copper Clad Aluminium cables?


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

    One example where using CCA can be especially worrying 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 real risk for heat to build up faster and be dissipated with potentially disastrous consequences with the severe danger of a fire starting.

    Attenuation: Attenuation will be worse in Copper Clad Aluminium cables due to the higher bulk resistance of aluminium. This provides the risk of greater data loss, as more packets have to be retransmitted. This means that long permanent links and channels may have failing attenuation performance when used or tested. If CCA cables are being used, more data may need to be resent, leading to your network performing slower. This problem is further impacted depending on the length of the CCA cable used, with your overall network performance reducing the longer the cable.



    Breaking / Bending of the Cable: Copper Clad Aluminium cables will have less flexibility than pure copper patch leads due to aluminium being a less malleable material. Because of this, repeated bending of CCA cables may cause the cables to break. The TIA/EIA specified breaking strength of the cable, minimum 400 Newton, will be difficult to pass. To be compliant with ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2, the Copper Clad Aluminium cables must pass this breaking strength test.

    The cables also need to pass the minimum 10% elongation at the break of the conductor, as specified by ISO/IEC, IEC and CENELEC standards. Furthermore, current ISO and US TIA structured cabling standards also specify that network cabling must be 100ohm copper, which CCA cables are not. All these issues mean that when it comes to installing the cables, many people will have problems with the cables getting damaged and breaking easily, which may lead to delays in projects if replacements need to be ordered.

    What is the difference between CCA and Cca?

    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 several basic requirements that should be met by all cables that will be permanently incorporated within a building or construction. Some of these requirements include mechanical resistance and stability and safety in case of a fire. Cca CPR is a positive change for the industry rather than CCA, which could be a danger when used in patch leads.

    Where can you purchase Pure Copper Patch Leads?

    Cablenet are committed to ensuring that we always import and distribute the highest quality products to our customers. We will never supply any type of non-copper conductive ethernet cabling to our customers.

    All importing and distributing companies should know and understand the severity of the implications from using CCA cables. We would thoroughly recommend that you ask your cable supplier what they are offering you before purchasing.

    For authentic Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a pure copper patch leads, get in touch today.


Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) - know what you’re buying.

  • Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) - know what you’re buying.

    Are you buying substandard patch cords? Do you know if they are pure copper or Copper Clad Aluminium?


    If you buy the cheapest patch cords you are offered there is a good chance they are not fit for purpose and could pose serious risk to business continuity and safety.

    What is Copper Clad Aluminium wire?

    CCA wire uses an aluminium conductor that is coated with copper, this process presents at face value a production technique that uses less of an expensive material, of which there is a global shortage, bringing commercial benefits to any potential suppliers of CCA network cable over competitors who supply pure copper equivalents.

    But what about the organizations who will rely on the cables as a vital part of their network infrastructure?

    This is where the CCA proposition starts to look less appealing:

    The use of CCA wire in twisted pair network cable is not permitted by the IEC or CENELEC in their cable standards and the lack of any kind of standardization with relation to the ratios of copper and aluminium means that any testing by the industry can only be relevant to the actual piece of cable being analysed. 3P; an organization that provides third party testing for compliance with industry standards for cable manufacturers strongly advises against the use of CCA wire in twisted pair network cable. The use of CCA wire directly contravenes both CAT5e and CAT6 specifications which denote the use of copper conductors. CCA wire is not a copper conductor. Organizations supplying CCA as CAT5e and CAT6 network cables should examine very carefully if they are in compliance with the sales of goods act.

    CCA has higher attenuation properties than pure copper cable, this will result in more packets of data having to be retransmitted when it is corrupted or lost at the physical layer. This effect is particularly prevalent on longer cable channels on or near the 100mtr maximum and will at best lead to a slower network for most users of CCA twisted pair cable.

    CCA has further negative implications when used for Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications. When Power is applied to CCA cables the cable will overheat, and quite quickly. For a given applied current, initial temperature increases can be twice those seen on a solid copper conductor. When the cable does start to overheat a vicious spiral begins and unless the current is switched off there is no going back to a point of safe working. This could cause extensive damage to the cable and adjacent cables. If cords contain stranded CCA conductors, the impact on heating is further emphasised. The implications of this are particularly frighteningly in applications such as IP CCTV where power is continuously drawn through network cables 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year using a cable with higher attenuation properties than intended for use with the IEEE802.3af standard, let alone IEEE802.3at, makes very real the possibility that heat will build up faster than it can be dissipated with potentially disastrous consequences.

    In addition to less desirable electrical qualities, CCA wire presents a number of physical problems for installers ultimately leading to delay and additional expense. CCA wire has a lower tensile strength than pure copper and as such the cable can be damaged though pulling, with conductors or the whole cable breaking. CCA wire in twisted pair applications also has less tolerance for bend radius; for a cable installer who doesn’t know he is working with CCA cable, vast amounts of time can be wasted finding the source of a test failure.

    A few UK importers and distributors are still supplying CCA patch cables to their customers despite its substandard performance in the field is well documented.

    In terms of the issue of liability for any problems that may arise from the use of CCA, however minor or severe; the buck stops with the importer/distributor, who in reality should know the implications of using CCA wire in today’s network applications. In this instance, given the very obvious shortcomings of CCA wire in twisted pair networking applications; the standard of cable a distributor supply is a good measure of their technical competence and long-term interest in their customer’s business.


    The Cablenet Promise


    At Cablenet our commitment to ensuring the supply of quality products to our customer means that we have absolutely no interest in exploring the avenue of CCW patch leads and/or any other type of non-copper conductive cabling. We would never knowingly supply our customers with CCA regardless of the instability of the global copper market at this present time.

    Cablenet will not supply Copper Clad Aluminium wire network cable to any of its customers. Our message to the industry is ask your cable supplier what they are offering you, and then make an informed choice.

    Get Authentic Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a Patch Cables here.


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