Aluminum Cable Ampacity Chart: Everything You Need To Know

People must realize that many cables in their household are made using copper. One of the main reasons for this is that it has a greater conductivity ratio than aluminum. However, with the price of different facilities continuing to rise, the need to source more affordable conductor materials has become increasingly critical, especially for cost-conscious constructors. One of the materials people are turning to is aluminum wire, which has garnered attention lately. People are also paying more attention to the aluminum cable ampacity chart to determine their needs. 

Application of Aluminum Conductors

Below are the various applications of aluminum conductors.

Utilities

Aluminum has been used for various utility applications for a long time. Today, it offers crucial performance capabilities for both institutional and commercial purposes. 

Commercial Buildings

Most of the massive commercial facilities use aluminum assemblies. Because of their various applications, these aluminum cables are steadily becoming a staple in most tall buildings, high-capacity stadiums, manufacturing industries, and wastewater-treatment facilities.   

Conductors

In addition to large conductors, most contractors prefer aluminum in service entrances and power distribution conductors. 

The Advantages of Using Aluminum in Your Facilities

Below are some of the advantages of using aluminum in your facilities.

Cost Savings

One of the main advantages of selecting an aluminum conductor is the cost-savings aspect, which is achieved because of the low cost of the material. You can save as much as 80% if you utilize their aluminum in every way possible. 

However, we have to point out that aluminum’s price can fluctuate at times, but it is still much better than copper, which can see a sharp rise in pricing almost instantaneously. According to stats, people saw a historic increase in copper prices last year of approximately 91%. This situation eventually led to a heightened urgency and the need for in-depth research into different conductors. 

Technical Design Advances

One of the most critical advancements experienced with aluminum conductors is its physical properties. The emergence of new alloys has helped to eliminate most of the past mistakes associated with using aluminum as a conductor. Today, they offer better conductivity, are durable, and come with creep resistance features than their predecessors.

In addition, one of the traits engrained in aluminum conductors is their lightweight, which makes them about 50% less heavy compared to copper. This feature makes aluminum conductors more accessible and practical for installation methods like pulling, bending, and training cables in small spaces. 

NEC Approved

Another compelling argument why contractors should use aluminum conductors is that it is NEC-approved, which means that it meets the criteria set by section 310.14 of the NEC doctrine, which says that aluminum conductors should be made using an AA-8000 series electrical-grade aluminum alloy conductor. 

Where Can I Use Aluminum?

Aluminum can be used in several settings depending on your project. Some use aluminum conductors between transformers and switchboards located in service entrances. They can also be installed in switchboards linked to motor control centers where there is a need for feeder applications. One may also use aluminum conductors from panel boards to feeders, as long as there are space considerations.

Aluminum Application Consideration

For most contractors, the aspect of conductivity is a critical issue they constantly have to deal with, which also applies to aluminum. You can funnel as much current as you need through any conductor. However, surpassing the wire’s (aluminum’s) capacity will result in the conductors overheating.

The amps are not designed to sustain conduction levels above the wire’s recommended rate. As a result, it is easy to see why most contractors prefer to use copper since it can transmit more power than aluminum without causing a fire.

Aluminum Wire Ampacity Chart

The aluminum wire ampacity chart includes the number of amps aluminum wires can accommodate based on the three different temperature ranges of 140°F (60°C), 167°F (75°C), and 194°F (90°C). 

Also, the maximum permitted amps on aluminum wires to stand at an average of 75°C. However, this includes taking into account the 80% NEC rule.  For example, A 6 AWG aluminum wire has a rated ampacity of 50A. 80% NEC rule states that you can only load the wire up to 80% of the rated ampacity. That means a 6 AWG aluminum wire can handle 40 amps of electrical current or less.

Chart 1: American Wire Gauge Aluminum Wires Ampacity Chart

Aluminum  AWG Wire Size:Ampacity At 140°F (60°C):Ampacity At 167°F (75°C):Ampacity At 194°F (90°C):Max. Permitted Amps (75°C):
0000 (4/0) AWG150 Amps180 Amps205 Amps144 Amps
000 (3/0) AWG130 Amps155 Amps175 Amps124 Amps
00 (2/0) AWG115 Amps135 Amps150 Amps108 Amps
0 (1/0) AWG100 Amps120 Amps135 Amps96 Amps
1 AWG85 Amps100 Amps115 Amps80 Amps
2 AWG75 Amps90 Amps100 Amps72 Amps
3 AWG65 Amps75 Amps85 Amps60 Amps
4 AWG55 Amps65 Amps75 Amps52 Amps
6 AWG40 Amps50 Amps60 Amps40 Amps
8 AWG30 Amps40 Amps45 Amps32 Amps
10 AWG25 Amps30 Amps35 Amps24 Amps
12 AWG20 Amps20 Amps25 Amps16 Amps

These are smaller wires with the highest median ampacity of 180A.

Chart 2: Kcmil Aluminum Wires Ampacity Chart

Aluminum kcmil or MCM Wire Size:Ampacity At 140°F (60°C):Ampacity At 167°F (75°C):Ampacity At 194°F (90°C):Max. Permitted Amps (75°C):
250 kcmil170 Amps205 Amps230 Amps164 Amps
300 kcmil190 Amps230 Amps255 Amps184 Amps
350 kcmil210 Amps250 Amps280 Amps200 Amps
400 kcmil225 Amps270 Amps305 Amps216 Amps
500 kcmil260 Amps310 Amps350 Amps248 Amps
600 kcmil285 Amps340 Amps385 Amps272 Amps
700 kcmil310 Amps375 Amps420 Amps300 Amps
750 kcmil320 Amps385 Amps435 Amps308 Amps
800 kcmil330 Amps395 Amps450 Amps316 Amps
900 kcmil355 Amps425 Amps480 Amps340 Amps
1000 kcmil375 Amps445 Amps500 Amps356 Amps
1250 kcmil405 Amps485 Amps545 Amps388 Amps
1500 kcmil435 Amps520 Amps585 Amps416 Amps
1750 kcmil455 Amps545 Amps615 Amps436 Amps
2000 kcmil470 Amps560 Amps630 Amps504 Amps

These are thicker wires that can have up to 560A ampacities.

Why Use Copper Rather Than Aluminum as the Conductor in Power Cables?

Copper Conductor 

Caption: Copper Conductor 

Some of the reasons why you should use copper rather than aluminum as the conductor in power cables include:

  • Copper tends to have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion, which helps to reduce the risk of destructive forces taking their toll on jointed sections.  
  • There is no copper corrosion issue since it is resistant to most organic chemicals. It can also function indefinitely in most industrial environments out there. 
  • As mentioned earlier, copper is known to show good resilience against creep, which is essential if you want to avoid the relaxation of contact pressure points and when dealing with components that have complex shapes. 
  • Copper is one of the easiest metals to solder. As a result, when this feature is combined with conductivity, it becomes ideal for a host of applications where good joint integrity is required. 
  • Since copper doesn’t react with water, you will not have to deal with problems like liquid flowing into a cable during shipping, leading to accidental damage. On the other hand, aluminum is known to react with water, producing nitrogen gas which can be dangerous in certain situations. 

In conclusion,

The material used as a conductor is one of the variables that can change a wire’s amps rating. However, this does not mean you should fill up your house or office with copper, especially considering the high price. 

On the other hand, many homeowners can still afford to use copper for various small projects. However, aluminum will still be your best bet for large-scale undertakings requiring miles of cabling. 

Finally, we all know that aluminum carries fewer amps. Fortunately, you can remedy this problem by increasing the size of the wires. In addition, it is much lighter and easier to install. Contact Cloom Tech for the best services for all your aluminum cable services.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

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