Copper and Aluminum Pipes in the Air Conditioning Installation: What is the Difference?

When purchasing a Split air conditioner, the installation of the appliance is an important issue and should be carried out by those who are really specialized.

The cost may be considerable compared to the value of the device, but proper work and the quality material used are fundamental to the proper functioning of the product, and would not be different when talking about the type of pipe: which one to choose copper or aluminium?

Due to the high numbers, many companies went out looking for solutions to reduce them, and one of those “solutions” at the Splits plant is the replacement of copper tubes with aluminium ones. But did you really know that there are big differences between the two and that this can influence the installation? Check it out below:

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Aluminum

Price

The great advantage of aluminium is the amount paid. Because it is a much more abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust than copper and much lighter – being approximately 30% of the weight of copper – it is natural that its price is much lower.

That’s why the benefit is in terms of cost: while a 1/4 flexible copper tube roll with 5 meters costs on average between 50 and 65 euros, the aluminium tube roll with the same size can be purchased between 25 and 30 euros – a significant saving on pipes when using aluminium instead of copper.

 

Corrosion

One of the disadvantages of the use of aluminium is that, in the region of contact between metal and brass connections (nuts, splices, nipples, etc.) in the presence of atmospheric air, the phenomenon called galvanic corrosion can occur, that is, aluminium becomes porous in the flange, initiating a leak with only one or two years of use.

In addition, there is the fact that it is a much more fragile material and easy to knead, and once the pipe is damaged, it cannot be repaired: it must be completely replaced.

Another disadvantage is that aluminium has less thermal conductivity than copper, which causes the equipment to take longer to operate. I mean, cheap can be expensive.

 

Copper pros and cons

Copper pros and cons

Efficiency and endurance

The main advantage of copper is that it has higher thermal conductivity, faster heating and cooling – which favours the efficiency of the device – and also the fact that its tubes are stiffer than aluminium, so they are stronger and with less chance of oxidation. And in the case of degradation, it can be corrected by welding – which does not happen when the tubes are aluminium.

Therefore, although many manufacturers in the sector continue to work with aluminium, fortunately, there are companies and installers that do not abandon copper, stating that their main objective is the quality of the service provided.

Price

The only disadvantage of copper is its price, bearing in mind that, as we mentioned above, copper usually costs twice as much as aluminium because it is not as abundantly in nature. Plus, it’s a heavier material.

 

What’s better: Copper or Aluminum?

Definitely because of the use of copper. “My argument is only physical, structural and molecular: I do not use aluminium because it is more fragile at all. I have a history with the product and I know it has no comparison to the shelf life. Aluminium is perforated and degraded, losing performance and physical characteristics over time much faster than copper.”

So you just have to decide: economics or quality? Most of the professionals we still talk about prefer copper to aluminium in pipes, thinking about the proper functioning of air conditioning.

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