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Understanding the Different Types and Shapes of Copper Busbars

types and shapes of copper busbars

Understanding the Different Types and Shapes of Copper Busbars

Electrical power distribution plays a vital role in our daily lives and industries. One key component in this system is the busbar. Made from highly conductive materials like copper, busbars efficiently distribute electricity with minimal energy loss. 

This article will guide you through the various types and shapes of copper busbars, helping you choose the one that best suits your needs.

Why Choose Copper?

Copper has solidified its position as the prime material for busbars over centuries, and there are concrete reasons for this preference. One of the most significant advantages of copper is its unparalleled electrical conductivity. This means that minimal energy is lost as heat when electricity passes through a copper busbar, ensuring efficient power transmission. This high conductivity is second only to silver, but copper’s affordability gives it a clear edge in industrial applications.

Additionally, copper possesses a natural corrosion resistance. This trait is indispensable in environments with a constant risk of moisture or chemical exposure. It ensures that the busbar retains its integrity and doesn’t degrade prematurely, which would otherwise compromise the entire electrical system’s safety and efficiency.

Furthermore, copper’s remarkable thermal properties are crucial in managing the heat generated during electrical operations. As electricity flows through the busbar, it produces heat due to resistance. With its superior thermal conductivity, copper dissipates this heat effectively, preventing overheating and potential damage.

The Importance of Shape

The copper busbar shapes go far beyond mere aesthetics; they are critical in determining overall performance and efficiency. The busbar’s shape directly affects its surface area. A larger surface area can dissipate heat more effectively, ensuring the busbar remains within operational temperatures, especially during high current loads.

Furthermore, the shape of the busbar influences its electrical resistance. For example, a flat bar might have less resistance than a rounded one of the same volume because of its larger surface area. This difference can have tangible effects on the efficiency of power distribution, particularly in systems where even minor resistance changes can lead to significant energy losses.

The busbar’s shape also impacts its current carrying capacity. Some designs can carry more current without overheating than others, making them more suitable for high-demand applications. For instance, a rectangular busbar might be preferred in high-current systems, while a rounded one might be chosen for compact installations.

Flat Busbars

Flat busbars are among the most common copper busbar types. They are easy to install and offer a high surface area, which is great for heat dissipation. This shape is often used in electrical panels, switchgear, and other applications. Their design allows for simple connections and can be easily customized for various lengths and widths.

Hollow Busbars

As the name suggests, hollow busbars are tubes made from copper. They offer reduced weight compared to solid shapes and can carry the same amount of current. These are primarily used in applications where weight and space are significant concerns. Because of their shape, they can also bend more easily than other types, allowing for more complex configurations.

Round Busbars

Round busbars are solid or hollow cylinders of copper. While they offer less surface area for heat dissipation compared to flat busbars, they can carry high currents. These are ideal for applications where high mechanical strength is required. Their cylindrical shape also allows for easy rotation and flexible installation options.

Custom-Shaped Busbars

Sometimes, standard shapes just won’t cut it. In such cases, custom-shaped busbars come to the rescue. These types of copper busbars are designed to fit unique applications and are generally made-to-order. They can include complex bends, multiple layers, or special coatings to meet the needs of specialized projects.

Sl. NoDescriptionFlat BusbarHollow BusbarRound BusbarCustom-Shaped Busbar
1Copper PurityMinimum 99.90%Minimum 99.90%Minimum 99.90%Varies
2TemperHalf HardSemi HardFull HardAs per the custom design
3Dimensions ToleranceBS EN13601/ASTM B187BS EN13601/ASTM B187BS EN13601/ASTM B187As per the custom design
4CornersSharp CornersRounded CornersFull Round CornersAs per the custom design
5Tensile StrengthMinimum 250MpaMinimum 240MpaMinimum 260MpaVaries
6ElongationMinimum 12%Minimum 11%Minimum 13%Varies
7ConductivityMinimum 98.3%IACSMinimum 98.1%IACSMinimum 98.5%IACSVaries
8Bend TestNo CrackNo CrackNo CrackVaries based on shape
10Tin Plating3 to 5 Microns3 to 5 Microns3 to 5 MicronsVaries

Material Grades of Copper Busbars

The performance and efficiency of copper busbars depend mainly on their grade:

Electrolytic Tough Pitch (ETP) Copper:

Composition: Comprises a minimum of 99.90% copper.

  • Features: ETP offers excellent electrical conductivity, making it a popular choice. Its reasonable corrosion resistance ensures durability in various environments.
  • Applications: Predominantly used in power distribution mechanisms, electrical switchgear, and high-demand electrical installations due to its balanced properties.

Oxygen-Free High-Conductive (OFHC) Copper:

Composition: This grade boasts an impressive 99.95% copper purity and minimal oxygen content.

Features: Superior electrical conductivity combined with excellent resistance to oxidation. It’s also highly formable, making it ideal for intricate components.

Applications: Catering to specialized needs, OFHC is preferred in high-vacuum environments, advanced research applications, and cryogenic setups.

Insulation Options

Safety and operational efficiency of busbars are often enhanced through insulation:


  • Features: Offers a strong insulation layer and provides significant protection against moisture, dust, and other environmental elements.
  • Applications: Extensively used for motor windings, transformers, and high-performance electrical applications due to its robustness.

Heat Shrink Sleeves:

  • Features: Ensures good electrical insulation, offers mechanical protection, and showcases resistance to environmental degradation.
  • Applications: Commonly used in cable joints, termination kits, and splices, providing a secure insulation barrier.

Special Paint:

  • Features: Apart from insulating, these paints can beautify the installation, presenting a polished, professional appearance.
  • Applications: Widely utilized on industrial machinery, transformers, and other exposed busbar installations where aesthetics are a consideration.

Sizing and Dimensions

A busbar’s size directly affects its operational efficiency:

  • Current Carrying Capacity refers to the busbar’s potential to transport electrical power without overheating. Inaccurate sizing can lead to inefficiencies and potential hazards.
  • Physical Dimensions: Dictated by the specific requirements of the application.
  • Length and Width: These dimensions largely determine the current-carrying capacity and are thus crucial for optimal functionality.
  • Thickness: This dimension directly influences the busbar’s mechanical strength and ability to withstand physical stresses.

Benefits of Plating

Plating can considerably augment the inherent properties of copper busbars:

Tin Plating:

  • Benefits: Offers improved solder ability, averts whisker growth, and significantly enhances the product’s shelf life.
  • Applications: Finds use in electronics manufacturing, automotive sectors for connectors, and aerospace applications due to its reliability.

Silver Plating:

  • Benefits: Features exceptional conductivity, possesses anti-microbial properties, and demonstrates resistance to high temperatures and oxidation.
  • Applications: Ideally suited for high-frequency circuits, RF connectors, precision instruments, and advanced electrical components.

Applications of Copper Busbars

Their adaptability sees them in varied roles across sectors:

  • Residential & Commercial: Efficiently manage and distribute electricity through distribution boards and panels, ensuring smooth operations.
  • Industrial: Integral in switchgears, transformers, and heavy industrial machinery functionality.
  • Transport: Electric vehicles rely on them for efficient power distribution.
  • Green Energy: A cornerstone in renewable energy systems like solar panels and wind turbines, enabling efficient energy transfer.

Important Standards

To ensure safety and maintain quality, adhering to standards is paramount:

  • ANSI: A comprehensive set of standards for electrical components, promoting product consistency and safety.
  • IEEE: Renowned for establishing standards that cater to the nuanced technical requirements of electronics and electrical engineering.
  • IEC: An international body that prescribes standards for electrical, electronic, and associated technologies, aiming at promoting international cooperation and ensuring quality.


1. What are the primary benefits of using copper for busbars?

Copper busbars offer exceptional electrical conductivity, superior thermal conductivity, and robust corrosion resistance. These attributes ensure efficient power distribution, durability, and longevity in electrical systems.

2. How does the grade of copper affect busbar performance?

The grade of copper determines its purity and specific properties. For example, ETP copper offers balanced electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance, while OFHC copper boasts higher purity and better oxidation resistance, impacting its suitability for certain applications.

3. Why is insulation important for busbars?

Insulation prevents electrical short circuits, reduces the risk of fires, and protects personnel from potential electrical shocks. Additionally, it can enhance the aesthetic appeal of installations and safeguard busbars from environmental factors.

4. When should I consider plating my copper busbars?

Plating, such as tin or silver, can enhance electrical conductivity, reduce oxidation, and improve solderability. It’s advisable for environments demanding higher performance or where oxidation is a concern.

5. Can I use copper busbars in outdoor settings?

Yes, copper busbars can be used outdoors. However, proper insulation and protective coatings are essential to shield them from environmental factors like moisture, which can expedite corrosion or cause electrical faults.

6. Are there international standards governing the use of busbars?

Absolutely. Organizations like ANSI, IEEE, and IEC provide guidelines on busbars’ design, installation, and utilization, ensuring their safety, performance, and quality in global applications.


Understanding copper busbars’ different types and shapes is essential for anyone involved in electrical power distribution. With multiple shapes like flat, hollow, and round, various material grades, insulation options, and plating choices, copper busbars offer immense flexibility and advantages. If you want to buy any of these copper busbars and be assured of their quality, shop at GoSwitchgear. 

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the copper busbar that perfectly aligns with your specific needs, ensuring a safe, efficient, and long-lasting electrical system.


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