Bus Bars

Stingy49

Solar Tinkerer
So I've been trying to figure out how to make my own custom size bus bars and while Will's idea about hammering copper tubing is effective I wanted something that looks a little nicer.

I came across 1/16" and 1/8" by 1/2" copper strips at onlinemetals.com for reasonable prices. $7.01 and $12.55 for a 6 foot length. Has ~$20 shipping though :(

I then saw they have 1/8" by 1/2" aluminium for $2.63 for a 6 foot length. Still has the same shipping. Looking on Wikipedia it looks like aluminium's resistance is roughly 2x that of copper but we're still talking micro ohms (not milli) for a 2 inch long bar. I also saw a blog post from Schneider Electric about aluminium being used in modern bus bars.

I think I might pick up a few bars, 3d print a jig to cut them all the same length, and then print another jig as a drill guide and make some for my 25ah cells.

I'd love to hear anybody's thoughts on this.

-Derek
 

SolarRat

Photon Sorcerer
Due to the copper shortage in the early 70's my whole home is wired with aluminium wire. Many homes have aluminum cables connecting their meter to the street pole.

That said, just a few problems with using aluminum would be:

Expansion/contraction due to temperature.
Corrosion on connection points due to dissimilar metals.
Must be sized bigger than copper for same amp load.
There are many different aluminum alloys, and not all are suitable for high conductivity.

The first two ^ combined is why most insurance companies won't insure a home with aluminum wiring. Connecting aluminum wiring to copper wire or copper terminals will eventually result in a loose connection and cause a fire hazard.

My local Ace Hardware sells metal strips in copper, aluminum, brass, tin etc. You could probably look around locally and find something that will save on shipping. Many people have used hammered copper tubing but like you said it's not always pretty. I bet if you took a 10' half inch copper pipe to a local auto body shop they may be able to pass it through some rollers to flatten it out cleanly...may be worth a shot.
 

Stingy49

Solar Tinkerer
Good points. I'll have to check my baterry's terminal material. I know one set of them are brass inserts and the other are studs of some type. I'll check that they aren't copper coated in something.
 

Stingy49

Solar Tinkerer
That is a neat product. Don't worry you haven't discouraged me. I'll see what I have easily available locally and go off of that.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
I just ordered a couple of sets from here: USA and quite reasonable in price, hope they are what they are supposed to be... 16pcs - $14 USD
 

SCClockDr

Solar Addict
I usually use a step bit for drilling copper. Tastefully bits tend to grab and copper is easily deformed. Use more care than normal.
 
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