How can I tell brass wire from copper wire?

I'm connecting a large power inverter that will convert 12 volts DC to 115 volts AC. The inverter's specifications call for #2 gauge copper stranded
insulated wire cables. Since I'll be connecting this to my car battery, I got the idea to use heavy duty jumper cables. I bought a nice pair that is #2 gauge and looked perfect for the job. I cut off one end and connected the wire cables directly to the inverter and the other end is already ready to connects to my battery. I tested it and it appears to work great. However, I read the small print on the jumper cables package and it said they were "brass wire" cables. The power inverter instructions specifically say to use copper cables and to not substitute aluminum because is its lower conductivity. I've read on the net that brass is poorer conductor than aluminum. I'm now concerned if I will need to replace my cables. However, I'm wondering if the print on the package might be incorrect. I question this because most jumper cables are copper wire and these cables look like copper. The wires are the color of a new penny, not the more golden color of brass. I did not measure any voltage drop, so it appears my cables are a good conductor. Also, the quality of the cables is excellent and the price was relatively high and I'd be surprised if cheaper brass wire was used instead of copper.
My power inverter will be used for emergency situations and I want it to work as well as possible. It's important to me that these cables be copper instead of brass. Is there a way I can tell for sure? BTW- I've sent an email to the distributor but have not yet received a reply. Like a lot of stuff now a days, the cables were made in China.
Thank you, Steve Smith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If it looks like copper and conducts the current you need with no measurable voltage drop, I think you can safely assume it's copper. It would be incredibly bad design to use brass wire for jumper cables. The clips at the ends of the jumper cable might be brass since pure copper is quite soft. There are lots of different brasses, but they all have lower conductivity than copper.
Steve Smith ( snipped-for-privacy@ctliving.net) wrote: : I'm connecting a large power inverter that will convert 12 volts DC to 115 : volts AC. The inverter's specifications call for #2 gauge copper stranded : insulated wire cables. Since I'll be connecting this to my car battery, I : got the idea to use heavy duty jumper cables. I bought a nice pair that is : #2 gauge and looked perfect for the job. I cut off one end and connected the : wire cables directly to the inverter and the other end is already ready to : connects to my battery. I tested it and it appears to work great. However, I : read the small print on the jumper cables package and it said they were : "brass wire" cables. The power inverter instructions specifically say to use : copper cables and to not substitute aluminum because is its lower : conductivity. I've read on the net that brass is poorer conductor than : aluminum. I'm now concerned if I will need to replace my cables. However, : I'm wondering if the print on the package might be incorrect. I question : this because most jumper cables are copper wire and these cables look like : copper. The wires are the color of a new penny, not the more golden color of : brass. I did not measure any voltage drop, so it appears my cables are a : good conductor. Also, the quality of the cables is excellent and the price : was relatively high and I'd be surprised if cheaper brass wire was used : instead of copper.
: My power inverter will be used for emergency situations and I want it to : work as well as possible. It's important to me that these cables be copper : instead of brass. Is there a way I can tell for sure? BTW- I've sent an : email to the distributor but have not yet received a reply. Like a lot of : stuff now a days, the cables were made in China.
: Thank you, : Steve Smith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Without seeing this for myself I would think the cable is in fact copper. I am no expert on cable production, but I know that brass alloys with as low as 5 wt% zinc still have a bright golden color to them. It doesn't take much zinc get a noticible color change. You might want to scratch the surface or look at one of the ends of the wire just to check if there is simply a copper cladding around brass wire. Another possibility is that maybe the clamp ends had brass connectors, but that is kind of a reach since the package specifically said "brass wire."
Seth
Steve Smith wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the replies. I looked at the ends of the wires where I cut the cable and it a solid copper color through out. I really believe they are copper. Perhaps the "brass wire" language was a misprint due to a bad translation from Chinese. I'll post back if I get a reply from the distributor.
Steve Smith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I received the following reply from Lowe's:

So, they have confirmed that the cables are actually coppper, not brass(as the packaging states).
Steve Smith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Cool. :) They actually responded. :)
Alvin in AZ
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Another translation error ? Martin Martin Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net NRA LOH, NRA Life NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder
snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yeah, that's the way I see it too, as opposed to the sales dept trying to make it sound the best they could and "only lie a little bit". ;)
Alvin in AZ
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've posted a picture of the end of the cable with a penny at
http://members.cox.net/stevensmith/copper.jpg . Although a picture does not always represent actual color, you should be able to get a good idea of what I mean when I say it's the same color as new penny. The light reflected off of the penny and made it look lighter, but it's really very close to the same copper color.
Steve Smith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Cool picture. :)
The voltage drop reading means more than anything printed on the package IMO. :)
A few of us here have a metallurgy book from the 60's that explains how the names "brass and bronze" lose their meanings after they go through the sales-department of the manufacturer. :/
The salesmen are having a go at Chinese copper too, now, huh? ;)
Also in that same book it sez: US penny is bronze 92%Cu+8%Sn. There are also "red brasses" described that are up to 20%Zn.
Alvin in AZ (metallurgy for a hobby?)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.