How to Make Money Scrapping Copper and Sorting to Maximize Your Money While Not Wasting Your Time!

Whether you are building UL 508A control panels or your gathering scrap copper off of jobs and the side of the road, sorting your material will multiply your profits.

In this video we discuss different grades of scrap copper and most importantly whether it is worth stripping your copper before taking it to the recycling center. 

Copper scrap rates vary weekly and sometimes daily depending on market conditions.  On January 2020 the rates were:

  • $2.15 Bare Bright Copper Wire
  • $1.20 THHN Copper Wire
  • $0.88 Romex Wire
  • $0.46 Insulated Copper Wire

Whether it is worth stripping copper wire before taking it to the scrap yard depends on the size of the wire.  In this video I used 2 examples to stress this.  3/0 THHN wire and #10 THHN wire.

  • 3/0 THHN Wire - We took 6 lbs 6 oz of 3/0 THHN wire and calculated the price without stripping then stripped it and recalculated.  When recalculating it, don't forget to reweigh the copper wire since it will no longer have the insulation weight.
    • THHN $1.20  per lbs * 6 lbs 6 oz = $7.65
    • Bare $2.15  per lbs * 5 lbs 11 oz = $12.23

Now we can subtract what we would have got for THHN from what we would get for bare and you will get what you made by stripping the wire.  $12.23-$7.75=$4.58.  It took about 2 minutes to strip that amount off wire so if we consider it on an hourly basis we would be making $137.40.  That's WAY worth it!

  • #10 THHN Wire - We took 7 oz of #10 THHN wire which as approximately the same length of the 3/0.  We calculated the price without stripping it then stripped it and recalculated.  Same as before, don't forget to reweigh the copper wire since it will no longer have the insulation weight.
    • THHN $1.20  per lbs * 7 oz = $0.53
    • Bare $2.15  per lbs * 5.4 oz = $0.73

Now we again subtract what we would have got for the THHN from what we would get for bare and we'll get what you made by stripping the wire.  $0.73-$0.53=$0.20.  It too took about 2 minutes of time to strip so if we consider it on an hourly basis then we would be making $6.00 per hour.  That's NOT worth it!

It really depends on the size of the wire as to whether your should strip it or not.  The larger 3/0 wire was well worth it but the smaller #10 wire was not.  We go into more depth of this in the video so be sure to watch it until the end.

Next Steps

Go to the UL 508A Control Panel Lesson series to select your next lesson.  There are also many other Lesson Series on PLC Programming and Industrial Automation.

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