CCA (Copper-Clad Aluminum) cable products have appeared on the market for a long time now because of the demand for less expensive cable from businesses looking to save money. Since aluminum cost less than copper, CCA cable is normally less expensive than bare copper cable products. Buyers find the cheaper cable products appealing, especially if they are working on a tight budget or looking to increase their bottom line.
According to Fluke Networks, “CCCA‘s research indicates that many contractors are not aware that cables marked as Category 5e or 6 and made with CCA conductors cannot be legally installed into any area that requires a National Electrical Code fire safety rating.” Cables made with CCA conductors do not have a valid safety listing per the National Electrical Code (NEC), and can’t be legally installed into areas of buildings that require CM, CMG, CMX, CMR or CMP rated cables, according to CCCA (Communications Cable & Connectivity Association). The concerns of installing these types of cable can be slower network performance and a possible safety hazard.
CCA Wire Properties
The disadvantage properties of copper-clad aluminum wire include:
- Lighter than pure copper
- Less electrical conductivity than pure copper
- Less strength than pure copper
- Nor reliable electrical connections than pure copper
- Typically produced as a 10% or 15% by copper volume product
Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating current at high frequencies (the current used in Cat5e and Cat6 cables for data transfer) to become distributed in a conductor so that there is more current density near the surface (or skin) of the conductor. This density decreases as you go deeper into the conductor. Because skin effect only happens at high frequencies, it’s highly recommended to use pure copper cable in all low frequency applications, such as your home power cables.
Ways of Identifying CCA Cables
There are several ways to spot counterfeit cable products. To determine if a cable product is CCA, look at the branding label on the packaging. Check for references to UL, ETL, or a holographic label on the box or a cable part number that isn’t listed on the UL or ETL (Intertek) website. Since aluminum is lighter than copper, weighing the cable box is another way you can test for the presence of CCA cable. The most effective way is to cut off a piece of the cable to see the inside conductor, then use a knife to scrape off the top layer of copper. If there’s a silver color below then there is aluminum beneath the copper.
Cable testing is a third way to find CCA cable. At first glance, the solution might seem obvious: Make DC resistance a field-test requirement and pro-rate the limit based on length. Fluke Networks states “Resistance of a solid aluminum cable is about 55% greater than for a copper cable of the same diameter. Resistance Unbalance is now a practical way to ensure the performance of cabling for the latest Power over Ethernet (POE) applications and a good way to identify nonstandard cable.” The greater resistance will result in greater heating of the cable and lower voltage available at the powered device.
Copper Clad Aluminum(CCA) Ethernet Cables Are Not Approved by NEC & TIA
Copper Clad Aluminum(CCA) Ethernet Cables are not approved for use in any application by the National Electric Code (NEC) for low or high voltage cabling due to it being a fire hazard and they are not approved for use by ANSI/TIA in Ethernet cable applications due to poor data and PoE transmission characteristics. CCA is not approved by UL/ETL due to it being a fire hazard. Check out the “Non-Compliant and Counterfeit Cable” white paper written by CCCA for more information.
Testing the installed cable is not normally done, so the connection problems may normally be the first sign of non-compliant cable products. According to Fluke Network, “Despite the efforts underway to educate the industry about the presence of counterfeit cable, and the methods for identifying CCA, the problem remains a serious one for the network cable market.” Businesses must make sure they’re using trustworthy, industry-standard cable products, no matter what their budget to avoid potentially serious problems and legal ramifications. The attraction to buy and install inexpensive cable is tempting, but remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t risk your data and network safety by choosing aluminum cable. Check Syston blog post on why should you stay away from CCA cables.
All of Syston Cable Technology’s Ethernet Cables are pure copper conductor. Choose Syston Cable Technology as your network foundation, your network is ready to meet today’s demand and evolve to meet tomorrow’s requirements.Order yours now.
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**Written by Syston Cable Team**
Reference: Fluke Networks, CCCA