WesBell Electronics
Wire and Cable Blog

Copper Pricing Is Going Down?!

Over the last few days, near the end of September 2011, copper has been volatile to say the least. It’s been from $4.00/lb down to $3.20/lb and today it’s back up to $3.50/lb. We can’t predict what’s going to happen to copper over the next week, month or year but we can help you understand the pricing as it is today.

When copper goes up it seems like pricing changes very fast so it’s important to check competition to keep everyone honest before buying any type of copper electrical wire. However, when copper is going down it doesn’t seem to adjust as fast because of how far into the process the copper already is.

If copper drops $1.00 per pound in one day I highly doubt manufacturers or distributors are going to immediately start selling all of their wire and cable at a loss. Copper is bought by the manufacture, then spends about 4-5 weeks in manufacuring to be sold to a distributor who stocks and sells it in smaller quantity.

That’s about 6 weeks worth of time for that particular copper wire to change pricing up and down nevermind one day. So now that copper has taken a down turn how long will it take to really adjust to the new pricing? Probably slightly less than the 6 week cycle because the manufacturers want to rid of their current stock before charging lower pricing for what they have.

Buying a stock on the NYSE low and selling high is the same thought process for a distributor who buys copper and sells it over time. They like to buy low and sell high whenever possible but predicting that process is impossible. Offering your customer the lowest price all the time is a great thing to be able to do, but it’s not always that easy.

In the business world, companies like Home Depot get better pricing on plywood than a small contractor because their volume is so much higher. In the wire and cable world the big guys get better tear pricing, however if they buy at $4.00 copper and the small business buys at $3.00 copper then they can compete much easier.

Always check around for the best price when dealing with any commodity because companies buy at different times so you’ll never know who might have the best pricing.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Copper Wire Being Stolen and People Are Actually Dying

People are stealing copper wire like actual dollar bills lying on the ground but they’re starting to get caught more and more. This news show discusses the amount of people stealing copper wire in order to turn it into cash at a local metals scrap yard.

They researched it and found that it’s costing tax payers over $50,000 per year to replace the amount of copper wire that’s being stolen. The problem is that the stolen electrical wire will be scrapped for about 1/5 the replacement cost for the company or person that needs to buy it and install it all over again. So for every $100 stolen it costs %500 to replace.

Copper items currently being stolen include copper roofs, copper wire from businesses, copper wire and piping from local homes, outdoor wiring along the side of buildings and even copper scrap piles businesses hold on to in order to legally scrap for cash themselves.

Even the uneducated folks are attempting to cut into live wires and being electrocuted to death. That creates an even bigger problem for the business because it shorts the connection which means it will cost an arm and a leg to replace the electrical unit and wiring that was damaged in the process plus the installation costs to do so.

This could be the cause of the 2011 economy, because of all the Americans without jobs, or it could simply be money hungry people looking for the quick buck. Either way businesses and police are cracking down on these wire and cable thieves with video surveillence and news castings to display those who were caught in the act.

Hopefully this will make the copper crooks think twice before attempting their next “job”. In the video it says that copper scrap yards are paying up to $1.15/lb for copper scrap but that’s quite low. Copper is currently at $4.00 per pound and scrap yards offer about 75% which gives them roughly $3.00 per pound of copper wire.

We know this as a wire and cable distributor because we actually have scrap yards knocking on our door for the waste that we incur each month. With all the short lengths, scraped insulation and accidents that happen with our wire and cable we end up having a large scrap pile each month.

Maybe it’s the uneducated people taking whatever they can get for it as quick as possible. It seems that once it’s out of their hands and melted down at the scrap yard there isn’t much anyone can do unless there’s a video of them stealing it.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Buying Electrical Wire From WesBell Electronics

Here at WesBell Electronics you can call at any time to speak to our knowledgeable sales staff about the type of electrical wire or cable you’re looking to buy. We’ll help you find the best fit for your application whether it’s indoors, outdoors, in conduit or underground.

Over the years we’ve helped many customers spend as little as possible by finding cheaper alternatives, offering free shipping over $250, shipping from the tax free state of New Hampshire and cutting the exact length you need for the job to minimize waste. We’ll also drop ship, cut multiple lengths and manufacture wire and cable assemblies to specification as an ISO 9001 certified company.

We continue to find new ways to save our customers money which builds trust in the relationship and keeps long lasting customers. In fact, we have a long list of customers that have been buying all of their electrical wire and cable from us since day one about 25 years ago. Those same customers have also gained more business because we work as a team to get new business for the both of us.

We learn something new with every phone call we get. Then we document it, analyze it and figure out how we can help the next customer with that new information. We improve everyday because we enjoy helping our customers get exactly what they want.

We got many phone calls in the past asking for 120′, 125′, 80′, 40′ and many more lengths of wire that most distributors won’t cut because it might give them an odd spool length. After analyzing that we started offering the “per foot price” on almost all of our wire and cable and we’ve had nothing but tremendous feedback since the implementation.

WesBell is also a customer of many large wire and cable manufacturers which helps us learn how to help our customers better. Some vendors treat us like gold, thank us for every order and even follow up to make sure everything went smoothly. Other venders act as if we should do them a favor for letting us buy from them. Needless to say we like to be treated like gold.

If you’re spending money at WesBell for your wire and cable needs then you’ll be treated like any other customer we already have. If you spend more than $250 we’ll ship your wire for free whether you live next door or out in California.

Take a look at us on Ebay to see the amount of positive feedback we have. Give us a call if you need a quote on any type of electrical or electronic wire and cable.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Multi Conductor Cables Shielded and Unshielded

There are many different types of multi conductor cables that have been engineered by wire and cable manufacturers over the years to protect the conductors from weather, sunlight, oils, gases, solvents and much more. Each cable is made with the standard gauge sizes and numbers of conductors to fit all types of applications.

The most basic type of shielded or unshielded multi conductor cable would be the PVC / PVC which would be the least expensive because it has the least amount of approvals needed. A PVC / PVC cable is used indoors for wire and cable harnesses to replace multiple single hook up wires in a neater way. When wire and cable is used indoors there obviously isn’t as much that can affect or harm it which means it costs less to engineer and manufacture.

A second type of indoor multi conductor cable is a high temperature cable. A PVC cable can only handle 105°C compared to a high temperature STJ cable that can handle temperatures of 200°C. They’re manufactured with PTFE insulated conductors and a FEP jacket. These cables also come shielded and unshielded but are mostly dedicated to temperature applications and protection from solder iron heat. PVC insulation melts as solder irons attempt to connect the wire to the application so PTFE wire or STJ cables are a good alternitive for those situations.

Outdoor multi conductor cables have added protection for weather and other things that might damage or puncture a cable which could short the connection. Electrical cables include UFB cable, MC cable and tray cable that can be used outdoors, underground or in conduit. MC cable can be used outdoors but not directly in the ground while tray cable can be duried in the ground without a problem. Each cable that has more approvals and options will cost more money.

Electronic cables used outdoors are also called power cables. SOOW, Type W, Type G and rubber tray cables are used in portable power applications. These multi conductor cables are manufctured with a rubber outer jacket so that they can be dragged on the ground, ran over on job sites and flexible enough to coil back up for another time.

Early developement construction sites use these cables to run power a long way for their machines and tools that need power before there’s any electricity on the site. As time passed cables were getting ruined very quickly because they were being run over by heavy machinery and dragged over concrete and rocky areas. That made manufactures develope the tough rubber jackets for a much longer life of the cable.

The common denominator in all of these cables is the copper. Each of them is manufactured with either stiff or flexible copper strands. Electrial cables need to be stiff to push through conduit easily while power cables need to be flexible so that it’s easier to use the tools, bend around corners and coil up on a spool for next time.

Even though copper is very expensive there are many other things to take into consideration for the cost of each cable. Nevermind the type of cable, a cable manufacturer has to buy the copper, engineer the cable, make it, store it, spool it and ship it before you can even get a price.

Talk to us about how and where you’re using your cable before buying it. We can help you figure out the most cost effective type of wire and cable for your application because we have a knowledgeable sales staff available to assist you.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Electrical Wire Questions and Answers

We get a lot of phone calls and emails with questions about many different types of electrical wire and cable. Since some of them are repeated we’re going to put them on our website so that people can find the answer before they need to make a phone call.

What type of electrical cable do I use to run electricity to my barn or garage?

If it’s above ground or in conduit you can use SER (Service Entrance Cable). Talk to an electrician first to check the gauge of the cable you’ll need. The electrician will do a calculation based on the length of the cable, the amount of amps you need and the voltage.

If you want to run the cable directly underground then you need to use UFB cable or Tray cable. UFB cable is an underground feeder that has added protection to be used underground. If you need something bigger than 6 awg then you’ll need to use tray cable which can also be used directly underground. Tray cable gets as big as 750 mcm with 4 conductors plus a ground wire.

Can I use Romex wire if it’s only going to be outdoors for 10 feet?

No matter how long I work for a wire and cable company I know this question will continue to come up. Romex can NOT be used outdoors because the jacket insulation isn’t manufactured with enough protection to resist any moisture, gas, oil or solvents. Anything that penetrates the jacket could hit the bare copper ground wire and short the connection.

Can I use THHN as dog fence wire?

Only if you keep the wire above ground. Usually dog fence wire is buried in the ground so you’ll need a wire that has enough protection to be used directly underground. THHN wire is used indoors, outdoors and in conduit only. The manufacturer states that THHN can not be used underground so that’s the message we pass along.

What type of wire do I use if I need high temperature?

Standard PVC hook up wire is rated for 105°C with a few different voltage ratings available. If you need higher temperature then you should use PTFE wire which is rated up to 200C. It’s silver plated copper with a PTFE insulation and it’s getting more expensive by the minute. Copper is rising, silver is rising and PTFE compound is also rising to give PTFE wire 3 possible inceases each day.

Please email or call us with any questions you might have about electrical wire and cable.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Electrical Wire and Cable Value Added Services

WesBell has been in business for over 20 years as a wire and cable distributor. As businesses grow they tend to expand into new things and for us it was value added services.

After about 5 years of selling bulk wire and cable we had a customer ask us to cut hook up wire to length for them. We decided that the rest of our customers might be able to benefit from this as well. So we accepted the job and started contacting the rest of our customers about our new services.

Jumping ahead another 5 years WesBell now distributes wire and cable, spools, stripes, cuts to length, cuts and strips lead wire and manufactures wire harnesses and cable assemblies to specification as an ISO 9001 company. Being certified as an ISO 9001 company gives our customers ease of mind knowing that we have to follow strict procedures when manufacturing.

Our value added services department has been a large portion of our growth. We’ve also been able to employ a lot of people because of it in this terrible 2011 economy.

If you need anything done to your wire or cable please let us know. We can quote it which might end up saving you money. We have machines running all day long cutting and stripping wires that need to be crimped or tin dipped.

Tin dipping your lead wires after cutting them is a good idea to keep them from fraying. After the pieces are placed in the bag and shipped to your location they can get a little banged up. So if the ends are tinned then it will be much easier to work with when you get them.

Please call with any questions or comments about wire and cable or about our blog. Let us know if you want a certain topic discussed in our blog as well!

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Copper Hook Up Wire For Appliances and Electronics

Hook up wire is used for many different things because each different type of insulation gives it more possibilites for environmental use. Standard electronic hook up wire only needs to protect the wire from a few things and complex insulation protects it from outdoor weather conditions such as moisture, gas and solvents.

Indoor hook up wire comes in 300 volts and 600 volts with a PVC insulation. These copper wires are used in electronics and appliances throughout your home. If you’ve ever taken the panel off of your toaster, microwave or stereo and seen the wire harness you might know what I’m talking about.

At Wesbell Electronics we manufacture the wire harnesses to specification as an ISO9001 company. Being certified as an ISO9001 company we have strict procedures while producing our wire and cable harnesses in order to limit errors and produce them as quick as possible.

The 600 volt hook up wire will have a slightly thicker insulation than the 300 volt for added protection. That gives it a slightly higher cost. Higher voltage and higher temperature wires will cost more as well.

If you’re looking for the most basic, cheapest indoor electronic lead wire then UL1007  is what you should ask for. It’s the 300 volt PVC insulated copper wire being discussed. Most companies will offer 100′ spools available for sale because it’s very cheap and you’ll only have to pay about $10-20 for a spool depending on the awg size.

There’s about 10-12 standard colors available and PVC wire can be striped very easily. A stripe will usually cost about $7 additional for each spool but if you need 20 colors for a wire harness then striping is the way to go. You can make the amount of colors unlimited by including stripes as a posibility.

If you’re looking for a type of electrical wire to be used outdoors then you should take a look at our THHN wire. It’s commonly used by electrical contractors outdoors and in conduit. Its dual rated THHN THWN insulation protects against water, gas, oil and solvents.

If you’re looking for a higher temperature hook up wire then take a look at our PTFE wire that reaches 200°C. It’s manufactured with silver coated copper strands and a PTFE insulation for high heat and solder proof applications.

Please call us with any type of hook upw wire you need!

WesBell Electronics
(800) 334-8400

Tray Cable – Underground Multi-Conductor Electrical Wire

Tray cable has become a very big seller over the past year for WesBell Electronics. We started selling all types of electrical wire over 5 years ago to compliment our already booming electronic line. Tray cable has been a very easy sell for many reasons in the electrical industry.

Our type TC-ER tray cable is manufactured with THHN wire conductors and a PVC water tight jacket which makes it available for direct burial in the ground. It’s round with a black jacket and all black conductors that are numbered for easy installation. It ranges in awg sizes from 18 to 750 mcm with up to 4 conductors and a ground wire.

The reason it’s such an easy sell is that it has all the bells and whistles with out the outragous pricing. Copper still weighs heavily on the price because it’s so high right now but other cables manufctured for the same undergound use have a higher expense.

Type MC cable is slightly cheaper because it can only be used in conduit. If you want an MC cable that can be direct buried you’ll need the additional PVC jacket over the metal clad armour. That makes for a very expensive cable but it can also be used in concrete which tray cable cannot.

Many of our customers call and want to use Romex® for their application. Then they say it’s only going outside for a few feet so it should be fine for this situation. Well that’s not true. Romex® doesn’t have the protection that UFB cable and tray cable have because it’s only made to be used for indoor applications. That’s why it’s cheaper and that’s probably why they want to is it over the more expensive cable, but getting tray cable first is better than replacing the Romex® later.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Stealing Copper Electrical Wire For Scrap Money

Copper, as a commodity, has been rising for the past few years and people have been noticing the amount of money it’s actually worth. Copper is one of the precious metals out there along with gold, silver and aluminum. So there are scrap yards that will take the metals you have for cash to melt them down and sell them back to manufacturers for a profit.

The keyword there was “cash“. The word cash makes it very appealing to thieves because there’s no paper trail of what happened. So if you steal, and scrap, some copper wire for cash then there isn’t much that can be done by the law unless they catch you in the act. It only gets more clever from there..

Right now, there are plenty of stories of people going into vacant homes to steal the copper wire and piping in order to bring it to the scrap yard for cash. Copper is currently at $3.92/lb in September of 2011 which means stealing about 100 lbs of it could get you about $300 in cash that day with no trace.

Part of the problem is all of the foreclosures on the real estate market because the homes are vacant for awhile. Thieves are on the look out for these homes to probably steal a lot more than just the copper wire. Some of the copper thieves have actually been caught dead with wire clippers around a live electrical wire! That tells me that they were crooks long before they decided to start getting into the electrical business.

If you’re an electrician be very careful with electrical wire because people are on the look out. A 50 lb spool is a $150 worth of money just waiting to be grabbed by someone. Keep your wire locked up in a garage while you’re in for the night instead of leaving it on the job site. Also keep all of your waste, like you save your change, so that you can bring it to the scrap yard yourself.

Another way around it would be to buy the exact amount of copper wire you need for each job. We cut exact lengths on all of our THHN wire, Romex, UFB cable and welding cable so that you have limited waste on each job. It’s much easier to calculate profit knowing all of your costs up front.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Indoor Outdoor and Underground Copper Electrical Wire

Electrical wire comes with all different types of insulation, but they all have the common denominator of copper or aluminum stranding. The insulation changes the expense of the wire or cable based on the environment you need to place it in.

Indoor Wire and Cable

THHN wire is the most common type of single conductor electrical wire. It’s manufactured with a dual rating of THHN and THWN so that it’s all water resistant. It can be used indoors and in conduit only.

Using your copper wire and cable indoors requires the least amount of protection on the insulation because there isn’t much that can hurt it. There isn’t any moisture, oil or solvents effecting the life of the insulation so it can be made for less money. Romex cable is the most common type of indoor electrical wire which uses THHN wire conductors.

Outdoor Wire and Cable

THHN is still the single conductor wire used outdoors and in conduit because the THWN rating can resist water, oil, gases and solvents. However, running 3-4 single wires can be difficult for the installer because they’ll have to run each one individually or tie all 3 together and try to run them as one.

Romex will not work outdoors OR in conduit so you’ll have to upgrade in quality and price to an MC Cable. It’s manufactured with THHN wires and a Metal Clad jacket for easy installation in conduit. The ground wire in MC cable is also a THHN wire rather than a bare copper ground wire so the cable remains moisture and solvent resistant.

Underground Electrical Wire

THHN cannot be buried directly in the ground so you’ll have to upgrade on a single conductor to USE-2 wire. It’s used mostly on solar installations and has a rubber insulation.

If your installation is directly in the Earth instead of in conduit then you’ll have to upgrade to a UFB cable which is an underground feeder cable. It’s color coded and flat instead of round with a bare copper ground wire. The insulation covers each conductor individually to keep it water and moisture tight directly underground.

Tray cable is also an underground cable for larger sizes since UFB cable only goes as large as 6 awg 3 conductor. Tray cable goes as big as 500 mcm 4 conductor with ground. It has all black numbered THHN conductors and an overall PVC jacket. We sell it per foot on our website so that you can get the exact length you need and avoid any waste.

Those are the basics of indoor and outdoor electrical wire. There are also basics on electronic wire and cable based on heat and voltage ranges for different applications.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400