CASE STUDY: Recycling Copper Wire With and Without a Wire Stripper

Since there is no exact method for calculating the amount of electrical wiring for a remodel, new home, building or business, most electricians estimate the amount of each type of wiring they need from the blueprints or inside the home itself with the electrical outlets in place. After the wiring needs are totaled, it is customary to purchase an extra 250 feet of each type of wire on the roll, just to be sure and have enough of each type. After wiring a new job, you can have approximately 250 feet of 12-gauge, 14-gauge and ROMEX wiring.

To get the most out of your copper wire for each pound that you want to recycle, it should be stripped of the coverings so that it is #1, bright copper wiring with a shiny copper color. Stripping wire by hand is very expensive because it takes long hours and you would probably be paying an employee overtime to strip it by hand. There are many insurance claims associated with hand-stripping wire from employees cutting themselves that are Worker’s Compensation claims, which in turn cause an increase in your monthly rates.

Number one copper wire has to be perfectly clean without any other material on it, small bits of the casing, solder, paint or glue. If you fail to remove all of these materials from your copper wire, it will likely be classed as #2 copper wire because it is not “clean.”

Number 1 copper wire prices are at $2.10 per pound, whereas unstripped wire with the insulation on it is priced at only $0.75 per pound.

Using a wire stripper can speed up the process when you are stripping a large excess of wiring from jobs. A wire stripper removes all traces of any elements from bare bright #1 copper, even if you are stripping used wiring from a building or home that is being remodeled. That way it ensures you get the top price for your scrap copper, which is actually a by-product of your work and it puts money in your pocket.

For example, 50.59 feet of 12-gauge wire weighs one pound, and 80.44 feet of 14-gauge wire weighs one pound of bright #1 copper after it is stripped. ROMEX wiring weighs 164 pounds per 1,000 feet. Let’s say that you have saved excess wiring from jobs plus the used wiring from jobs that you rewired entirely and you have 10,000 feet of each of these three types of wire. Using a wire stripper to get the most money would net you 196.46 pounds of 12-gauge, 119.05 pounds of 14-gauge and 1640 pounds of ROMEX. At current prices you would get a total of 1955.51 pounds at $2.10 per pound or $4,106.57, which is a very good payday. The same amount of unstripped wire would only net you $1,466.63.

It is a great time to secure a StripMeister™ wire stripper, as copper prices are rising and you can make back the cost of the equipment quickly. After making that much off your scrap copper, all you get back is pure profit from a work horse such as the E2000. This model of automatic stripper strips all sizes wire from 14-gauge to 2000mcm wire. It has a 1 HP motor with variable speed and high torque for great performance and speed on a daily basis.