Some of us who don’t know much about air conditioners may find this topic a little confusing. So, you may be thinking, Oh! I didn’t know that condenser was made of copper or aluminum. Well, you are not far off the mark. It is not the condenser that is made of these elements, but the coil which is inside. Then, why say copper condenser or aluminum condenser? Because that is the ordinary parlance in which the manufacturers, retailers, and technicians refer to them. Coming back to the central question of the day, which is better – copper condenser or aluminum condenser? To answer this question, let us first understand the characteristic differences between the two.
Characteristic Differences Between Copper And Aluminum
|Cost||Costlier than aluminum.||Cheaper than copper.|
|Weight||Heavy as compared to aluminum.||Nearly half the weight of copper.|
|Corrosion||Corrosion does occur, but the process is slower as compared to aluminum and also easy to clean.||Corrosion occurs at a faster rate and is difficult to keep it clean, so it needs frequent replacement.|
|Heat Transferability||Higher than aluminum.||Lower than copper.|
|Repairability||It can be easily repaired in the field.||Difficult to repair in the field so needs replacement.|
|Pliability||It needs more metal to make the same amount of coil.||Needs less metal to make the same amount of coil.|
|Durability||Stronger and more durable.||Less durable so needs to be kept in sturdy cabinets.|
|Maintenance||Easy to maintain.||Difficult to maintain.|
Now that you know the fundamental differences between the two metals, we can delve deeper into the war between copper condenser vs. aluminum condenser.
Copper Condenser Vs. Aluminum Condenser
When it comes to the air conditioner, you don’t want to take any chances. Therefore, when it comes to buying an AC, you are not willing to take any chances. One of the characteristics on which you may make a purchase decision is the coil element. Let us try to figure out which type of coil is the best for your AC.
1. Thermal Or Heat Conductivity – Copper, has low specific heat as compared to aluminum. It means copper both heats up and cools down faster while aluminum is slow in doing so. In AC, this means that the copper coils in the condenser will radiate heat far quicker than the aluminum coils.
2. Tensile Strength – The malleability of metal is measured in terms of tensile strength. It is usually the point at which the wire will break under tension. Copper has a higher tensile strength than aluminum. This means more force is required to bend copper into the desired shape when compared to aluminum. Thus, the manufacturing cost of appliances using copper will be higher. An air conditioner with copper coils will be costlier than one using aluminum coils.
3. Oxidation – Oxidation is the process where metal reacts with air and as a result, corrodes. Aluminum is highly susceptible to such corrosion when compared to copper. In your AC, air continuously flows over the coils, so oxidation is a normal occurrence. However, here one thing that works in favor of aluminum is that once an initial oxide layer is formed, it prevents further oxidation. On the other hand, in copper, the oxidation continues until it is completely consumed.
4. Maintenance & Repairing – Copper condenser demands far less maintenance in comparison to aluminum condenser and hence, last longer without any issues. Aluminum condensers are prone to leakages and cannot be repaired on-site. They need to be taken to the service center. Where AC repairs are concerned, you would want to get it done at home so that the AC becomes operational as soon as the repair work is done. You would ideally not want to wait for the repaired condenser to come back from the service center, which could take a day or two or even more. This is especially true during the peak of summers when the heat is unbearable.
5. Long Term Star Rating – Star rating is the measure of energy efficiency. In the case of the copper condenser, the 5-star rating drops down to 3-stars in a matter of 2 to 3 years. In the case of the aluminum condenser, the same rating drops down to 1 in the same time span.
6. Environment-Friendly – Aluminum condensers get damaged easily. When they get damaged, they release harmful gases (like R22 & R410A) into the environment. Copper condensers are far more durable and energy-efficient. It can thus be inferred that an air conditioner with copper condenser is more user-friendly.
Copper Condenser Vs. Aluminum Condenser – The Better Choice
From the above discussion, it is easy to conclude that in an AC, a copper condenser is the better choice. However, technology has evolved so much in the last decade that strides have been made to make aluminum an equally sought after choice. The biggest challenge of aluminum coils is that they oxidize and corrode easily. To overcome this problem, anti-corrosive material is sprayed over the coils. This is called the “Bluefin condenser”. Also, to protect the aluminum coils, they are enclosed in a strong cabinet. It further reduces their chances of getting damaged.
The war between copper condenser vs. aluminum condenser will still continue in the foreseeable future. Slowly but steadily improvements are being made to make aluminum coils equally safe. Deciding solely on the basis of characteristic properties, buying an AC with a copper condenser is the best choice. But purchasing an AC is not an easy decision to make. You do not want the AC to dig holes in your pocket, both while purchasing and later on in the coming years in the form of repairs. In that context, the decision needs to be based on your budget. So think well and choose wisely. If you are still confused, you can consult others and also ask your local HVAC technician about their honest opinion. Since you already know about the aspects that really matter the choice should not be too hard to make.