WesBell Electronics
Wire and Cable Blog

Posts tagged: copper electrical wire

When Should I Buy Copper Electrical Wire?

If you have time wait before buying your copper electrical wire it might be wise to do some research first because you could save a lot of money. The price of copper goes up and down every day just like stocks or real estate which means buying at the right time saves you money.

In October 2011 copper has taken a downward turn for the first time in over a year. Since distributors and manufactures of copper wire seem to increase pricing very quickly as copper rises, consumers expect the same when copper is dropping in price. That seems like the fair way to handle it, but in this money hungry world everyone wants to get there hands on every last dime they can.

You can really start to understand your copper wire distributor during these times because it’s an easy way to find out if they’re being honest or not. We get a lot of phone calls from our website asking for pricing and we’ve heard comments from them saying their current distributor isn’t lowering their pricing at all even though copper has dropped over a $1.00 per pound.

Two things can happen from that scenario depending on the price we give them. The first thing that could happen is we could give them a much lower price and prove to them that their current wire and cable distributor is taking advantage of them. The second thing that could happen is we might give them the same pricing they’re currently getting which means the manufacturers probably haven’t lowered their pricing yet either.

So When Should You Buy Your Copper Electrical Wire?

No one can tell you exactly when to buy copper because it might lower tomorrow and give you a better price. On the other hand copper could go up which might raise your price so when is the right time? The key is to research a little bit more, make more phone calls and figure out who’s honest about their pricing and gives you the best price every time.

If time is an issue then you don’t have much of a choice about how much you’ll pay for the type of wire or cable you need because you’ll probably get similar pricing with each distributor you call. Quantity is also a good way to get distributors and manufacturers to lower their pricing because a bigger order is much more enticing to them.

We can do all of the extras for free here at WesBell. We cut electrical wire to any length you need without minimums, offer free shipping on orders over $250 and ship from the tax free state of New Hampshire saving you money on things besides just the cost of copper wire.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

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

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

Tray Cable is the Newest Electrical Wire Addition

The newest product addition to WesBell has been tray cable because of the amount of uses this type of electrical wire has. It’s universal in a sense because it can be used just about anywhere without an oversized jacket.

THHN / PVC Tray Cable is the standard type with THHN wires and a bare copper ground wire. Each wire is black with a number code of 1 through 4. The tough outer PVC jacket has the approvals for direct burial in the earth.

Another type of underground cable available in this field is UFB Cable. The difference with UFB wire is that it’s color coded and flat rather than round. It’s the common step up in smaller applications up to 6 awg from Romex and MC cable. Romex can be used indoors and MC cable can be used outdoors but not directly underground.

However, if you need a bigger gauge underground cable then tray cable sounds like a good fit for your application. It’s 600 volts type TC-ER tray cable and comes in copper conductors only.

There are many types of electrical wire types even though most of them come with copper conductors. Each insulation type is a step up from the next to offer a variety of pricing. Obviously and indoor only cable will be cheaper than one that can be buried directly in the ground because of the approvals and tests it needs to go through. So be sure to tell your sales person exactly what you’re using your electrical cable for in order to pay the lowest price possible.

Current Copper Pricing Update

The price of copper as a commodity traded on the NYSE has a lot to do with the current costs of electrical wire and cable. So far this year copper has been fairly steady in the $4.40 – $4.85 per pound range keeping the wire and cable pricing somewhat steady as well.

If you keep an eye on the current copper price per pound then you can do a simple equation to check your current electrical wire pricing. This is not an exact formula but if you apply the same percentage increase or decrease to the cost of your wire then you’ll have a good idea of the current cost.

Customers sometimes call and request pricing on electrical wire they they plan on buying in a month or two. It’s great to plan ahead but we need to let you know that copper changes daily and that price will most likely be different by the time you call to place the order.

So we like to send our customers to our current copper pricing page on our website to keep them aware of whether their price will go up or down when it comes time to buy. Every 2 weeks we plug in the current price of copper so that you can adjust your quote without having to continuously call back for an updated price.

Impact on Electrical Wire Pricing

It’s not uncommon for contractors and businesses to call with a $10,000 to $15,000 order for wire and cable products. So a 10% increase or decrease in copper can be very significant to the job they’re bidding. Remember I said copper has been STEADY so far this year with a 10-12% fluctuation. That’s fairly calm for copper and any other commodity on the stock market, so when copper becomes unsteady you’ll have to keep an eye out every week to be sure your bid is still current. 

$12,000 + 10% = $13,200

Copper has been the new craze for thieves as they go from building to building cutting the electrical cables from the power supply in order to sell it to scrap yards. Keep a close eye on all of your wire and cable and don’t throw any of it away. Keep it in a scrap box and when it piles up bring it to the nearest scrap yard for some extra cash.

Copper Thief Shuts Down Power to Airport!

It’s hard to understand that thieves will do almost anything to get their hands on some high value copper electrical wire. Well watch this video to fully understand because this man almost gave up his LIFE for some electrical cables that he would’ve tried to scrap for cash.

After researching the topic a bit more I’ve realized many people have already died in attempt to steal scrap metals such as this. You might think these guys are clever for attempting such a robbery that’s nearly untraceable but failing to shut off the power before doing so proves otherwise; Almost dying, or in fact dying, seconds that…

In this particular instance the restricted area was marked High Voltage in many areas as it was powering an entire airport. However this man could only see dollar signs as he entered and, to his surprise, the back of an ambulance as he made his exit. Lucky to be alive and unlucky to be the butt of many jokes to come.