HOME >> Copper Versus Aluminum Condensing Coil

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An air conditioner works by removing heat from the air. Copper, for its excellent heat transfer, is usually used for making condensing coils(copper tube/aluminum fin). Due to the high value of copper, the condenser is the treasure of many scrappers. However, is the tube always made from copper? The answer is no. When taking cost into consideration, some manufacturers prefer to make aluminum tube condensing coils(aluminum tube/aluminum fin).
History of Aluminum Tube Condensing Coil
Aluminum tube/aluminum fin condensing coil first appeared in the 1970s. It was a heavy-duty coil built by General Electric. At that time, all the other manufacturers used copper tube with aluminum fins. Air conditioner was considered by many people to be a luxury and most homes don’t have it. Time came to 1980, due to the tremendous building boom, people emphasized more on the cost of AC unit than quality. As aluminum cost less than copper, some manufacturers started producing condensing coils made entirely of aluminum.

Copper_Tube_Aluminum_Fin

Advantages of Copper Tube
Now while some coils are made of aluminum, copper is still the better choice. Copper tube, as opposed to aluminum tube in an air conditioner, has the following advantages:
1. Copper has Better Heat Transfer
Copper has almost twice the thermal conductivity of aluminum and therefore can transfer heat more efficiently.
2. Copper Coils are Easy to Repair
Copper coils are easy to be repaired in the field when damaged. Aluminum coils, if damaged, are almost impossible to repair in the field.
3. Copper is Easier to Maintain
Proper maintenance can extend the life of your air conditioner. As all-aluminum coils are fragile than copper tube coils, manufacturers use a heavy-duty cabinet to protect the units, which makes the system hard to clean and maintain.
Besides these, durability is another reason that copper is often preferred. However, due to the rising cost of copper, manufacturers have been making the copper coils thinner and thinner, which reduces the durability.
What About Recycling?
We know that copper-aluminum radiator can be processed by using a radiator recycling machine, which separates copper tube from aluminum fin. However, does an all-aluminum radiator need to be recycled like this? No. It doesn’t. Just remove any steel mounting plates to have the clean radiator fins.

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