Sound differences between Copper and Aluminum Bus Bar Electrical Panels


I have a Square D Homeline electrical panel that has an aluminum bus bar and I'm wondering if anyone hear went through the trouble to change the electrical panel to a copper bus bar type such as the Square D QO or any other manufacturer.  What audio improvements were heard going from aluminum to copper????  My system consists of top end components with a full loom of SR Galileo UEF cables, SR Active Grounding Block SE and an SR Powercell 12 UEF ac power conditioner.
mikeg
Impossible to say until you try it. It is quite far from the active components themselves, and the only way to find out if it makes a difference, is to try to get it done.

The question is valid, but also obscure enough to start a verbal war.


Good question, Mike. I'm assuming you are referring to the grounding bar in the panel? 

As teo_audio says, try it and let us know. Also, isn't the ground plate on the SR grounding blocks copper? Perhaps SR can share why they chose copper over aluminium? 
David, I'm referring to the electrical panel bus bar.  In my Square D Homeline electrical panel, both the bus bar and grounding bus bar(s) are aluminum.  I have ask a few manufactures and I get a somewhat mixed response.  One says it's huge and the other manufacture says it's a slight improvement.  I am asking the question because I was quoted $1850 for this and I estimate there is $600 in material.  I'd rather evaluate the inputs before I take the plunge.
david_ten
1,305 posts                                                                     04-16-2018 9:44am

Good question, Mike. I’m assuming you are referring to the grounding bar in the panel?

The neutral bar as well as the ground bar in the Square D QO panel and Homeline panel are made from an aluminum alloy, not plated copper.
Well, Aluminum is certainly cheaper than copper that could be a motivation.
BTW: It's a harness not a "loom".
A loom is a machine to make fabric.
A harness is something to focus brute force in order to do work.
If I had to guess, I'd guess they went to aluminum when the price of copper went through the roof. IIRC, copper (price) is back down again, so they may have gone back to using copper.

I'm surprised they managed to get approval for an aluminum bus bar, all things considered:

Even though copper has a long history as the material of choice for conducting electricity, aluminum has certain advantages that make it attractive for specific applications.

Aluminum has 61 percent of the conductivity of copper, but has only 30 percent of the weight of copper. That means that a bare wire of aluminum weighs half as much as a bare wire of copper that has the same electrical resistance. Aluminum is generally more inexpensive when compared to copper conductors.

Aluminum conductors consist of different alloys known as the AA-1350 series and AA-8000 series. AA-1350 has a minimum aluminum content of 99.5 percent. In the 1960s and 1970s, due to the high price of copper relative to aluminum, this grade of aluminum began to be popularly used for household wiring. Due to low-quality workmanship at connections and the physical differences between aluminum and copper, high-resistance connections formed and became a fire hazard.

As a response, aluminum alloys were developed to have creep and elongation properties more similar to copper. These AA-8000 series alloys are the only solid or stranded aluminum conductors permitted to be used according to Article 310 of the 2014 National Electric Code*. AA-8000 series alloys meet the requirements of ASTM B800, Standard Specification for 8000 Series Aluminum Alloy Wire for Electrical Purposes–Annealed and Intermediate Tempers.

https://www.anixter.com/en_ca/resources/literature/wire-wisdom/copper-vs-aluminum-conductors.html

But what do I know,  I've not paid much attention to this area of panel tech, other than noting that copper is the way to go - the end.
The real audiophile question is should we use Copper or Silver? :)
Silver would be my preference.  Maybe we as audiophiles should approach a manufacturer and see what it would take.
Time to go long on silver. : )
Where exactly does this end, and what exactly are you training your neural paths to do for you? 

I mean, if this is all that, you need to go fully off grid, and design some audiophile grade inverters. Maybe just go full battery powered listening room. But come on!

Even if you could hear differences, and the ear/brain might, this is something you are training your ear to do for you. You are choosing to attempt to listen to things no one else can. Is that really your goal? 

I used to be a projectionist and I learned to listen and view each frame critically for noise and dust and scratches, making it very difficult to watch a movie anymore. Don't do that. 

Best,

E
It's a basic question.  Yes there are probably better ways to improve your system.  I'm interest if anybody went this far to do it and what the results was. The Audio Bacon guys did this but haven't responded to this question on their website in one of the review responses. 

Since posting this, I have seen that the incoming utility power line is heavy aluminium and the conduit from the meter to my electrical box is heavy aluminum so I think it's not worth pursuing even if I do it myself.
mikeg:

There is a tremendous amount of electrical noise generated by the electrical panel. I think the best beginning step to improve the situation is to reduce noise generated by the tens of suboptimal connections in the panel. I used the Total Contact product on the approximately 80 connections within my panel and have had a major improvement in sound. There is a discussion about Total Contact on the members review forum.

Please call me if you would like to discuss the topic further.
David Pritchard
575-644-1462
David, Check the TC thread.  I made the last post.  
What’s interesting is, when my contractor went to source subpanels here in Austin for a "from scratch" install, the supply houses claimed they had Square D with copper buss bars, and upon examination, all were aluminum. When I was in NY metro, it wasn’t a special order and readily available at local suppliers.
I think I wound up w/ Cutler Hammer w/ copper bar.
I never compared aluminum v. copper, just followed what i understood to be good practices. (I know, the way of sheep). But, the electrical subsystem I had the contractors install in the past year is great; ironically, even the ’dirty’ power here (without the big iso transformer that got installed in the backyard) was pretty quiet, even though I’m essentially "in town" in a residential neighborhood. I think there are a lot of variables, starting with the quality of the power coming in from the pole, and then following good practices--I am a big fan of @jea48 ’s input on this board, b/c he isn’t proposing ultra expensive audiophile solutions, just basic above code quality and practice.
You could also  mechanically ground the entire breaker box..to either the concrete wall or support frames or both..Tom
"The neutral bar as well as the ground bar in the Square D QO panel and Homeline panel are made from an aluminum alloy, not plated copper".

My search on the internet shows the Square D QO panel as having a copper bus bar.
mikeg OP
112 posts                                                                           04-23-2018 7:45am

 "The neutral bar as well as the ground bar in the Square D QO panel and Homeline panel are made from an aluminum alloy, not plated copper".

My search on the internet shows the Square D QO panel as having a copper bus bar.


My search on the internet shows the Square D QO panel as having a copper bus bar.

That is correct. The two hot bus bars, and breaker connecting ties, are made of tinned copper.

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@whart

Thank you for the kind words.

Jim
@kosst_amojan,

Do you think this could affect the sound of an audio system?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idyjpucgPCI

.


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I'm coming to the conclusion that if the incoming utility power lines to the meter is aluminum and the main power lines from the meter outside to the panel is aluminum, then changing the panel from an aluminum bus bar to copper would have minimal effect.  I've already treated my entire panel including breakers, bus bar, grounds, incoming utility, and panel mains with TC from PerfectPathTechnologies.  I already mentioned what is in my system besides cyrotreated Virtual Dynamics romex feeding two 20 amp dedicated lines.  A new panel will require four Arc Fault GFI breakers which I'm told degrades the sound quality.
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