On 6/18/06 8:29 AM, in article
" email@example.com" wrote:
It cannot be! Over the last 10 years we have been assured that inflation is
under control by our Government. Would it lie?
-- Ferme le Bush
Simple. The price of copper has gone up. Here in the SF Bay Area you
can get $1.65/lb. at the recyclers for #12 THHN ***with*** insulation.
I know a lot of electrical contractors are hurting because the price is
going up so rapidly. One in particular under bid their job by 50K
because the price of copper went up so much from time of bid.
The price of copper has just about tripled during the last year
according to infomine.com Copper has gone from about $1.30 to $3.15 a
pound. Take a look at this chart.
(According to copper.org it takes about 400 pounds of copper to wire a
Additionally, the world's second largest deposit of copper, the Pebble
deposit, has been discovered in Alaska but the owners cannot get a
permit to develop this mine because the environmentalists and fishermen
are worried about the effects on the fishing industry near Anchorage.
Add to this
the cost of doing business in the US. The environmental, safety, and
labor laws triple the cost of production over many other countries.
On Mon, 19 Jun 2006 00:02:33 +0100, "sQuick"
Well if that don't just tip your scales!
Over here, we have pennies that are 99.7 percent ZINC. A clad strip
is used to coin them, and it is even done in such a way as to cover
the edges with copper when struck as well.
Next thing ya know, Zinc will be going up too!
RoHS will likely have a hand in that.
Here in Oregon, there have been several cases of Meth Addicts pulling
all the romex out of partially unfinished houses to sell for scrap.
The homeowner ( or the insurance company) is out for $12,000 or so and
the electrical system has to be rebuilt from scratch.
I'm told the power companies are nevous about idiots who get inside
their substations and start hacking away at the ground system ( or
worse, live copper conductors).
I had a friend once who used to install radio transmitters all around
the world. He said he once worked in an African country where the
natives kept tearing down the power lines to the transmitter site to
make trinkets. It sounds like its getting that bad in the USA in
The last time it peaked we got stuck will Al wire in homes that caused lots
and lots of problems.
Maybe "this time" the technology will be up to the job. If the problems
are truly solved then copper wiring for power will go the way of the dodo.
NOFI, but there _is_ a tried and tested fix available for decades.
It's called 'abandoning 120V' :-P
Utility-side and 'power hungry' devices 120-0-120 => 240-0 = same power
with 33% less copper
Replacing 120V appliances with 240V ones = 1/2 current = same power with
50% less copper
But seriously, unless someone invents some conductive polymer that
rivals copper in both conductivity and price ('alternative'
metals/alloys obviously won't qualify), phasing out 120V would be a damn
good start at slowing down the copper price hike and keeping wiring
Depends on how you "do things."
If you require a ground wire, then you only save 25% of the copper (savings
depend upon the relative sizes of the neutral and ground conductors.) But
many 240 volt appliances have 120 volt motors and timers and lamps.
Folks like to have 120 volts for "small stuff."
Unless the government steps in and requires 240 volt for anything that draws
more than 9 amps, it just will not happen.
True. But only if you go 100% unbalanced and give up 120 stuff (or pay the
penalty of transformers all over the place.)
Well, expensive copper has just about permanently priced itself out of a lot
of applications. It's still used for a lot of residential plumbing but
some of the techniques used for plastic have been transferred to copper.
Next step is to just drop the copper in the first place.
Right now houses keep going up and up in price and folks just don't care
about saving a few $100 in wiring. But when the market shifts and the
builders have to pinch every penny or go out of business, I bet Al will be
back. If will have some kind of "lifetime" guarantee.
The 3-wire, single phase 110/220 volt system was deliberately picked
by the Rural Electrification Association in the early days of the
Roosevelt administration becuase it "did" and still does offer the
maximum in safety (most circuits at the lower 110V. level),
flexibility (Two voltage levels available, the higher 220 for
heavy-duty circuits), and simplicity (the ability to power 10 HP and
larger motors) while using single phase transfomer banks. The common
neutral with the higher voltages also minimizes voltage drop when the
loads are balanced.
Keep in mind that this was in the days before GFCI's and any solid
state electronics. The US Government was extending light & power to
the farms of the land and was looking to do it as economically as
The rejected the choice of the Euro-Continental model, essentially
bringing 3-phase primarys to a central town transformer and using
thick secondary conductors to serve 200 houses or so from one
American farms were different than what geographically was found in
Europe. Rural Europeans tended to live in clusters in small towns
and villages surrounded by farm fields. America, on the other hand,
consisted of isolated farm houses on each plot of land separated by
great distances. The single phase model, typically served by a set
of poles with a simple neutral and hot primary wire (no crossarms
necessary) and a small distribution transformer at the end made the