It is not really surprising that as we have watched the price of copper continue to rise that we are hearing more and more discussion of aluminium pipes as an alternative. Price is incredibly important in a time of shrinking margins, but I thought it was time to talk about whether aluminium is actually a better material that copper for use in air conditioning. Time to start thinking about quality!

Of any metal aluminium has one of the highest strength to weight ratios. Why is this important? Well this means that aluminium is light (very light compared to copper) but that it is stronger than you would expect a metal of this weight to be. As well as bringing value for money, aluminium brings value per gram to the table.

When it comes to construction, particularly the construction of massive commercial or industrial air conditioning and refrigeration units, a light material is much easier to work with. Not just easier, but also cheaper to work with. Using aluminium reduces the overall weight of the unit or structure, so it will be easier and cheaper to support.

So, aluminium is lighter than copper, but despite an excellent strength to weight ratio, it is not as strong. Is this a problem though? In my opinion this isnt a problem at all. Aluminium is far more malleable than copper precisely because it isnt as rigid. More flexible pipes as well as none standard parts are possible in the manufacturing process because of this malleability. Instead of building air conditioning around the constraints of the material (copper) you can now build around the shape of a building, a far more sensible approach.

Even many years after the construction is finished aluminium continues to bring benefits . It is much easier to repair an aluminium pipe than a copper one, and this is before we consider the fact that aluminium is a longer lasting material. So the unit has a longer life span. A damaged aluminium pipe can be easily fixed by soldering, after soldering the pipe will actually be stronger than it was when it was damaged.

A final benefit that I want to discuss comes at the end of the life of the unit. Aluminium is really easy to recycle, so when you are disposing of the unit this is a big advantage. Since the trend in government regulation points to more recycling this is great news. It also means that we should never find ourselves in the same position as we recently have with copper where the cost of the material makes it prohibitive to use in air conditioning. It isnt just the most readily available metal on earth, it is also incredibly easy to recycle, great news!

Author's Bio: 

If you work in air conditioning you are bound to be hearing about aluminium pipes as an alternative to copper. Sarah Haines decided to have a look at how they measure up.