Episode 2 : Reasons why Aluminum cables are an excellent choice for overhead cable
Karellys: Hello guys again. Nassau National Cable podcast. This is Karellys your host, and today we are going to be talking a little bit about the electrical energy and power line, also about cables and wires that are used in order to transport this electrical energy to different places. Today we have Vita again as our guest. Hi, Vita. How are you?
Vita: Hi, Karellys. I'm good, thank you.
Karellys: Great to hear. So welcome again to Nassau National Cable podcast and it's always a pleasure having you here as a resident expert to talk a little bit more about everything related with energy. Like I was saying, today we are going to be talking about one of the six basic types of energy, which is electrical energy. So electrical energy, in simple words, we can say that it's the result of moving energy that flows in different directions from the particles that are called electrons and protons. Am I summarizing it quite right, Vita, or is it just too simple?
Vita: But like in general terms, I guess it's right. And it's always best to describe something as simple as possible because the best definitions are the ones that a five-year-old child can understand.
Karellys: Right, I agree. Nothing better than using simple words to make something difficult easy. So, speaking a little bit more about electrical energy, we can get a very clear example from nature in a bolt of lightning. So, it's basically a huge number of electrons flowing through air all at once. And I was reading that energy can be transformed from one type to the other. I didn't know if you knew this, but I was looking into the history of electrical energy and I found out that electrical energy was discovered by an American scientist named Benjamin Franklin. Did you know that?
Karellys: Of course, you knew that. I mean, you're the resident expert, but this is all news to me and it was so fun to see that he discovered this by running an experiment that right now is of course famous because of history. But it was a very simple experiment that involved a kite, a key, and it was done on a rainy day. So, like I was telling before, that we can see this an example of electrical energy on a lightning bolt. This is very exciting because that's precisely what demonstrated Benjamin Franklin how to use or how to transform one type of energy into electrical energy with just this very simple experiment. I just wanted to point that out because I thought it was very interesting and it kind of brings out more information or more facts that are good to know in relation to electrical energy, which is the topic today. Well, I also wanted to know of course, that Nassau National Cable is a North American company, we are based in New York, and it's so coincidental that the first power station that generated power to houses electrical energy that could light up bulbs and function, a refrigerator a TV, et cetera, et cetera, was actually turned on here in New York City in 1882. And the name of this power station was Edison's Pearl Street Power station and it lighted up to 95 houses back in the day on their first run in the lower Manhattan. I don't know, that is maybe coincidental, but it's so good to know that Nassau national cable was born in the state in which the power stations were born. I want to talk about, or I want to go more in depth about the power station. How were they able to transport the energy from the plant to the houses? I mean, I was reading that by that year, the material that they used was copper. And what back in the days they consider cables was just like a line, a very long line of bare copper put together with maybe two or three more, so forming a wire all in the same configuration, just like a long rod of copper. Bare copper in this age that was put together with jutes. Look at the material they're using jute, right. It's so different than what we're using nowadays. And this is where I want you to kind of expand a little bit because this is 1882 and nowadays, we are, of course, 21st century. This is the material is most definitely not used. And we have a lot more time and a lot more resources that we have discovered through time that have been able to allow us to get more efficient transmission of electrical energy into our houses. So, can we talk a little bit about the material and how much has changed from back in the days using jute and nowadays using different materials that could be can you expand a little bit about this?
Vita: Yeah. So, like, the first cables that connected to power grid were indeed from copper, made of copper. But today, aluminum is more common material for getting electricity from the grid and we will focus more on why is it so, I guess later, because it's like an interesting point in our discussion and regarding the utility power poles, they are made of many different materials, but actually it's so common to have wooden utility power poles like it was back in the 19th century. So, this hasn't really changed in some geographies. So, we still have wooden power poles. But the thing that has definitely changed is like the way that electricity travels to reach our homes have become more and more complicated. Nowadays we get electricity from the grid and like in our modern cities or like some settlements, electricity travels very long way because before it reaches the end customer because power plants are getting larger and also, they are being built further away from the populated cities because they are too complex and people don't really like to live near plants. So, we see them going further and further away from the cities. That's why, the way of electrical highway is becoming more and more complicated. And it sounds like a no brainer, but actually it's important to get everything right. And all the materials have to be of high quality. And also, of course, cables, they have to be the best quality in order to keep the electric power transmission line going and get the electricity to our homes and businesses and structures.
Karellys: Okay, so I know that the way we currently see a lot of cables going are mostly running on the air from one pole to another. If I'm not mistaken, those are called overhead cables. And then I also read that there's cables that go underground that also transport energy, I'm assuming from one pole to another, or some type of transformer or transductor or something that holds the energy or stores the energy and then moves it along through the cases. I guess you can expand a little bit about that as well, talking about cables and how it's used, what's the difference between one another, the materials also, like you were saying, copper and aluminum. Yes, copper was the original conductor for transmission of energy, but nowadays aluminum is more common and I would like to know why. I would like for you to give us a little bit more of a benefit of us using or choosing aluminum as opposed to copper and expand from all your knowledge on this different kind of questions that arise. So, let's have that deep conversation or let's go deep into that topic so we can kind of clear everyone's depth.
Vita: Okay, so basically this is like two different topics because overhead versus underground is like one topic and, the discussion of what types of cables are best used in overhead lines is a whole another topic that I can talk about. We can start with what's the difference between overhead and underground power lines?
Karellys: Okay, so let's keep it with just the power line.
Vita: Yeah, so like you said that's right. There are two basic types of power lines that transmit electrical powers. These are overhead electrical power lines and underground power lines. And it's not that one is better than the other. They are both used in the modern landscape because each has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on what you need from them. So, they usually differ in terms of voltage, the cost of the price of the line, the safety requirements are different, so they are both used in cities and in the country. But if we're talking United States, you're more likely to find underground power lines in cities and overhead power lines are more likely to be located outside of cities. So, it's not like a rule, it just happens often.
Karellys: Can I ask you, is it because shorter distance is better to use underground and longer distances is easier or more efficient to transport the energy through overhead?
Vita: Yeah, kind of like and also outside of the cities, we have high voltage transmission lines and better when they're overhead, but also, it's not just like the type of line, but also the price of the line because underground lines are very expensive. They can be like up to 5-6 times more expensive to produce than overhead lines and they're also harder to maintain. That's why it's not really possible to run underground power lines everywhere. So, yeah, they are used on shorter distances, both because of their quality and also because of the cost.
Karellys: Okay, that's good to know. Well, that's good to know. I didn't know that. I just assumed from what you were saying. So, it's just good to have that clarified. So, speaking of the conductor, copper and aluminum, can you go over why or what's the difference between one and the other? Is one more effective than the other? Can we go in depth as to why would we choose aluminum better than cover?
Vita: Yeah. Okay, so when we're speaking about cables, copper is considered better than aluminum in most applications because it has better electrical conductivity. But when we take overhead power lines into consideration, it's actually the other way around. And aluminum is preferred for many reasons for that. But I guess the most important one is that aluminum power cables are just cheaper. And this is a very important consideration because the cables run hundreds of meters between the poles and overhead power lines are hundreds of kilometres long. That's why saving every dollar is important. So, it just works better to use aluminum instead of copper. But it's not just that. Also, aluminum cables, they are more flexible and lighter. They're about two times lighter than copper cables. And these qualities matter because the construction of an overhead power line is that the cables are just hanging loosely and they should not be weighing down. So, the lighter they are and the more flexible they are, the better. And if you would use heavy cables instead, they would just cause strain on utility poles, especially on those older wood-based utility poles. And the stress on utility power poles is not good because it will cause them to consent. And in this case, there could be some safety concerns because lowering the overhead cable to save distance from the ground, it's not good. So that's why aluminum works better because it's flexible and lighter. Yeah.
Karellys: Okay, so guys, remember, Nassau National Cable has everything you may need for your electrical project. And this includes overhead and underground aluminum cables. And you can very easily go over our huge list of available cables and products that we have on our website. That is www.nassaunationalcable.com. So just go visit our website, look around, see what we have to offer, and maybe we'll translate into a purchase, who knows? So, Vita, yes, thank you for that explanation. It kind of clears a lot of depth that people might have in terms of why choosing one over the other. So, it's not just cost guys, a lot involved in why aluminum is mostly used and why aluminum is, for lack of a better word, better to be used on overhead uses. So how do we go about identifying the right type of cable from the huge variety that we have to offer and that we have in the market, especially on our website, Nassau National Cable. Vita, can you give us a couple of examples of the different types of cables that we can use? I'm talking about aluminum conductor cables that we can use for overhead projects or overhead uses.
Vita: Yes, sure. So, cables for overhead power lines are called overhead service drop cables. Independent of the manufacturer, you can just go with this name and this is what you need. But they still are different in some ways. One way they are different from each other is the exact type of the aluminum conductor that they have. For example, there is like AAC cable, it's just a regular aluminum conductor that has a metal purity of more than 99%. So, it's like basically all aluminum. This type of overhead service drop cable is used mainly in urban areas when the spacing is short and the supports are closed. So, it can also be used in coastal regions sometimes because it has a high degree of corrosion resistance. So, it's basically your regular aluminum conductor, just nothing more to add about it. Also, aside from that, there is a type of conductor that is AAAC. It's an all-aluminum alloy conductor. So, it's like not pure aluminum but an alloy. And this type of overhead cable with aluminum load conductor is used on aerial circuits that require larger mechanical resistance than just simple aluminum conductor. And also, when bare corrosion resistance is needed. So, if you will have a problem with mechanical resistance and corrosion on the power line, it's better to use alloy instead of pure aluminum. And also, there is a type of conductor that is reinforced with steel. There are different kinds of steel reinforced aluminum conductors in the market. They usually range from 6% to 40%. And the goal of steel is to add additional strengths to the conductor. So, these types of overhead cables are used in for example, they can be used for river crossings and installations that involve extra-long distances. So, these types of conductors are manufactured to different tensile strength so it can cover long distances with fewer supports and advantages when you need high or extra high voltage, it's usually the conductor will be reinforced with steel.
Karellys: Okay, interesting. Vita. So, I think this cables that you just told me are just one conductor, right? Different materials, same aluminum. I'm sorry? Not different materials, same aluminum. Just a little combination. Sometimes when you say the alloy, it's aluminum with something else and then it's wrapped on something that prevents from the environment to damage the cable somehow. So, do we have wires that are also used on overhead applications? And I don't know if everybody knew this, but I just want to make a note here. Cables are just one conductor wrapped on whatever jacket you want to use it, but that's a cable. When we talk about wires, we have more than one conductor together, whether it's under the same jacket or with different jacket or insulation. But as long as you have more than one conductor, that's when we talk about wires. I just wanted to note that because I know I just, in one phrase, used the word cable and use the word wires, and I didn't want everybody to get confused. So, Vita, is there any wire for these overhead applications that you can give us a little bit more insight as to which one to choose or how to choose it, or what's the difference between one another or the application something that you can give us about different wires for overhead application?
Vita: Yeah, sure. You're absolutely right to not be confused. I was talking about different types of conductors. But I'm not assuming that there's just one conductor in overhead power cable, because it's not the case. It's never just one. The types of aluminum overhead cables that are commonly used in power lines are triplex wire and quadruplex wire. So, triplex is commonly used for single phase service. And there are, three individual wires that are twisted around each other. And there are two conductors that are the hot legs of the service and also a bare, uninsulated wire that is neutral. And basically, the triplex cable is used as a drop cable from a pole transformer to the service entrance of the structure. Or it also can be used for secondary distribution between poles and quadruplex, it’s different because it's used in three phase power lines. So basically, it's used for overhead three phase service jobs. And it has three conductors that correspond to the three phases. There are, like, phase A, phase B, and phase C, and also in neutral that is bare and grounded. So basically, the two types of constructions that you will need with aluminium overhead service cables.
Karellys: Okay. All right, just to summarize what you just said, maybe I did get it right. Three plex and quadruplex wires are the most common used or found, not used, found aluminum electrical wires available for overhead use. Is that right?
Vita: That's right.
Karellys: Okay, perfect. Guys, we've covered a lot of information about overhead wires, why aluminum is most used, a little bit of fun facts and tips on why and how electrical energy started. Why is it used, how is it transformed? And for those loyal listeners that stayed with us through all this information for the entire podcast today, we have a little surprise. Vita, can you guess what it is? Vita: Maybe a discount?
Karellys: Yes, exactly. So, we have a discount today. Well, not only valid for today, but only for those who listen till the end. It's going to be Garrie3. You can put that code on the checkout page on our website when you place the order. And guess what? It's going to give you 3% discount on your order of more than $2,000. So go ahead, go to our website, check what cables, wires you need to use for your project. Hopefully it's an overhead project that you have pending that you didn't know much about it. Now you do. Go ahead to our website, place the order and enjoy this discount for you being a loyal listener of our podcast. So, Vita, thank you very much for today, for clarifying a lot of the information and maybe doubts that we might have had about aluminum wires and cables for overhead applications. Thank you very much for your time and definitely see you next time with our next topic about wires and cables.
Vita: Thank you, Karellys. I'll be looking forward to next.
Karellys: We're on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. You can find us at Nassau national cable and just go ahead and list your questions on our comments and leave us any feedback, anything you would like us to discuss, whatever it is that you feel we should do better, go like this episode, subscribe to it so that you don't miss our next one. And until next time, take care. Bye.