Copper is one of the world’s most versatile materials, and as such, it can be found almost anywhere: jewellery, electronics, kitchen pots and so much more.
Copper is even found in air conditioning units, but it has a contender there: aluminium.
How can copper be used in air conditioning?
Air conditioning (AC) units are made up of three different components: evaporating coils, a compressor and condenser coils.
To cool a room, firstly the air conditioner pulls in air that flows over the evaporating coils. These coils contain refrigerant that absorbs heat from the warm air. During this absorption, the refrigerant turns from a liquid into a gas – but it needs to convert back again. That’s where the compressor steps in; it puts the gas under high pressure to turn it back into a liquid. Any unwanted heat from this process is sent outside thanks to the condenser coils and cool air is pumped back into the room.
Either copper or aluminium can be used for the coils and piping in an AC unit. But the big question is, which is best?
At Lawton Tubes we may be a little biased but we champion copper as the superior choice. Take a look at a few of the advantages of using copper and we’re sure you’ll agree with us.
Advantages of using copper in air conditioning units
#1 Copper is an excellent thermal conductor
First and foremost, air conditioning units are designed to change and maintain the temperature of a room, so the piping needs to be made from metal that conducts heat well.
Compared to aluminium, copper is a superior thermal conductor as it has a higher heat transfer rate.
However, aluminium is often used in conjunction with copper to help keep costs lower. The coils in an AC unit are often made of finned tubes; the tube itself is made of copper with aluminium fins surrounding it. These transport refrigerant around the unit while the fins increase the air surface contact, which, in turn, helps the energy transfer happen quicker.
#2 Copper pipes and tubes are strong and easily maintained
Air conditioning units require pipes to be bent at sharp angles; this minimises the amount of space the unit takes and improves its efficiency. However, it means that the pipes must be made of strong and malleable material – anything too weak and the pipes would be likely to crack and cause leaks.
On the one hand, aluminium is very flexible, more so than copper. But, in terms of longevity, copper is far more durable.
Copper is an incredibly strong material that can also be bent without compromising the pipe’s integrity. It is also easier to solder, so if any cracks occur, they can be easily fixed without having to replace the whole unit.
#3 Copper’s more economical in the long term
Although the initial outlay for copper might make aluminium seem more appealing, copper’s strength and durability makes it more cost-effective in the long term.
Where copper can be soldered if it cracks, aluminium becomes softer and weaker when exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, fixing or installing aluminium is more challenging and requires highly skilled labourers and precise tools – thus increasing the cost.
#4 Copper is corrosion resistant
Another property of copper that increases its lifespan is its resistance to corrosion. In comparison to aluminium, copper reacts with far fewer chemicals and is far less likely to corrode thanks to a naturally occurring film across its surface.
In fact, copper is renowned for being incredibly corrosion resistant, hence why copper tubing is used in many underground and freshwater environments.
It’s simply the perfect metal to use in an air conditioning unit where it’s constantly exposed to air and water at various temperatures. Other metals can corrode quickly in these environments if they aren’t treated correctly, causing you to have to replace or fix the unit more often.
Copper is the AC king
So, there we have it; there are plenty of reasons why copper is worth the investment.
It’s a superior conductor of heat, easily soldered, durable and corrosion resistant – everything you need for an air conditioning unit.
To learn more about how you can utilise copper in your applications, get in touch with our team at Lawton Tubes and we’ll be happy to help.
Browse our range of copper pipes.