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You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

Discover the Best Conductor of Electricity

Silver tops the chart as the best conductor of electricity, and we are here to explain why! We’ll also compare the conductivity of metals like copper and gold, and look into factors that affect a material’s conductive performance. Designed to enhance your knowledge without excess complexity, you’ll learn “what is the best conductor of electricity” and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Silver, copper, and gold are the metals with the highest electrical conductivity, with silver being the most conductive but often restricted in use due to its cost and tarnishing; copper is the practical choice for many applications due to its efficiency, affordability, and versatility; and gold is used in specialized electronic equipment for its reliability and corrosion resistance.

  • Other significant conductive materials include aluminum, which is lightweight and economical, brass with its non-magnetic and malleable properties, and stainless steel, valued for its durability and corrosion resistance in electrical applications.

  • Electrical conductivity is influenced by several factors like temperature, which generally decreases conductivity in metals, impurities that can either improve or hinder conductivity, and the material’s crystalline structure that relates to its mechanical properties.

Top Electrical Conductors: The Big Three

Let’s introduce the leading characters in this story – silver, copper, and gold. These three metals are well-known heavyweights in the world of electrical conductivity, each bringing a unique set of advantages and limitations to the table.

Silver: The Ultimate Conductor

Silver justifiably earned its reputation as the supreme conductor, being as good a conductor as one can find. Thanks to its crystal structure and a large number of free-moving electrons, silver boasts high electrical conductivity, the highest among all highly conductive metals. It outperforms copper and gold, making it the most conductive element.

However, each protagonist has a weak spot. In the case of pure silver, it’s the high cost and tendency to tarnish that restrict its use compared to other conductive metals. But despite these limitations, the allure of silver’s superior conductivity remains undeniable.

Copper: The Practical Choice

Although silver might be the supreme electrical conductor, copper stands as the pragmatic option for many. With a conductivity rating of 100% or better according to the International Annealed Copper Standard, copper is highly efficient for transmitting electricity. Plus, it’s more affordable and versatile than other metals, making it popular for a wide range of electrical applications.

Copper’s versatility is also evident in its availability in various shapes, sizes, and thicknesses, catering to diverse electrical requirements. Its strength and resistance to issues like stretching, neck-down, and breaks prevent dangerous conditions like overheating or reduced current carrying capacity.

Furthermore, the unique blend of strength and ductility in copper makes it an exceptional choice for wiring systems, ensuring the required toughness and flexibility. It offers flexible installation due to its ductility, allowing it to be bent, twisted, and pulled without damage, ensuring secure cable and wire setups.

Gold: Luxurious and Reliable

Gold’s luxurious feel is not its only claim to fame. It’s also a reliable conductor with excellent corrosion resistance. These qualities make gold effective in corrosive environments and valuable in circuit board connections and electrical connectors.

Despite the high cost of gold limiting its use in common applications, its reliability and electrical features make it suitable for high-precision and specialized electronic equipment. After all, when it comes to critical electronics, gold offers the following benefits:

  • Consistent and reliable soldering

  • Excellent conductivity

  • Resistance to corrosion

  • Low contact resistance

  • Long-term stability

These qualities make gold an ideal choice for applications where precision and reliability are paramount.

Other Conductive Metals and Alloys

While silver, copper, and gold may be the big three, there are other significant players in the realm of electrical conductivity. Electric conductivity includes alloys, and the ten most conductive elements include:

  • Silver

  • Copper

  • Gold

  • Aluminum

  • Brass

  • Stainless steel

Let’s explore these less celebrated yet equally vital conductors.

Aluminum: Lightweight and Economical

Aluminum is celebrated for its high conductivity, which may be only 60% of copper’s by volume, but its weight-to-conductivity ratio is unbeatable, offering the same current-carrying capacity as twice the weight of copper.

Aluminum serves as the backbone of the electrical grid, used in overhead power lines, busbars, industrial plants, switchgear, and components of transformers and capacitors. Plus, its heat transfer capability is exploited in designing foil heating elements, heat sinks for electronics, and components within solar panels and wind turbines, all while minimizing the interference caused by external electromagnetic fields.

Brass: Non-Magnetic and Versatile

Brass, an alloy primarily composed of copper and zinc, has several advantages:

  • It is not magnetic, making it an ideal choice for applications requiring non-ferromagnetic properties.

  • It is more conductive than steel.

  • It is less corrosive.

  • It is more cost-effective.

  • It retains value after use.

The alloy’s greater malleability compared to bronze or zinc simplifies the production of complex shapes, which is especially beneficial in the manufacturing of intricate electrical parts. These attributes contribute to brass being frequently used in making electrical terminals and connectors, where its conductivity and non-magnetic features are highly valued.

Stainless Steel: Durable and Corrosion-Resistant

Stainless steel might not be the first material that comes to mind when thinking about electrical conductors, but its durability and corrosion resistance make it a valuable player in the electrical industry. In the electrical industry, stainless steel conduits and fittings are preferred for their longevity and performance, especially in corrosive environments.

While it’s not the primary reason for choice in electrical applications, stainless steel is considered a relatively good conductor of electricity.

Conductivity Among Nonmetals

Although primarily deemed as electrical insulators, certain nonmetals possess the ability to conduct electricity. For instance, diamond, amorphous carbon, and graphite are nonmetals that conduct electricity.

Semimetals like silicon and germanium can be made to conduct electricity through the addition of impurities, a process known as doping. Organic polymers can also achieve conductivity when doped with substances like iodine or combined with conductive polymers such as polyaniline, polypyrrole, and polythiophene. This conductivity is achieved by facilitating electron flow within the material.

Factors Influencing Electrical Conductivity

Multiple factors play a role in determining electrical conductivity. For instance, the electrical conductivity of metals generally decreases as temperature increases due to more vigorous thermal vibrations of the metal lattice, which impede electron movement and increase resistance. This phenomenon, related to thermal conductivity, is known as decreases conductivity.

Impurities also have a significant impact on the electrical resistivity of materials, as they can affect electrical conductivity. For example, introducing copper impurities in an optimal concentration range to single-crystal silver can reduce its resistivity, showcasing how adding certain impurities can improve a material’s conductivity. However, it’s important to note that impurities hinder electron flow in some cases, leading to decreased conductivity.

The crystalline structure also plays a role in determining a material’s electrical conductivity. Good mechanical properties such as strength and ductility are signs of a stable crystal structure, which can also play a role in the conducting properties.

Choosing the Right Conductor for Your Needs

The selection of an appropriate conductor doesn’t solely rely on its electrical conductivity. Factors such as:

  • size

  • stranding

  • material

  • number of conductors

should be considered to match the application’s requirements and ensure adequate power load support.

For instance, copper offers cost savings on initial purchase and reduces life-cycle costs due to factors like installation ease, fewer service calls, and lower repair costs. On the other hand, aluminum has been instrumental in electrical systems since the time of Edison, each serving different specific applications.

Electrical Safety Tips for Arizona Homeowners

For homeowners in Arizona, adhering to electrical safety guidelines is crucial to avoid hazards and ensure a secure environment. Avoid overloading outlets to prevent circuit breaker tripping, especially in older homes which aren’t designed for modern electronic requirements.

Also, plug only one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time to prevent overheating and potential fires. If outlets become warm or frequently cause circuit breakers to trip, they should be inspected by a certified electrician.

Remember, damaged electrical cords can pose significant electrocution or fire risks and must be addressed if signs of fraying, cracks, or holes appear. And lastly, major appliances should be connected directly to wall outlets, not powered through extension cords. If necessary, have an electrician install additional outlets.

Parker & Sons: Your Trusted Electrical Experts

Discover the full spectrum of electrical solutions tailored to your needs with Parker & Sons, your premier provider in Arizona. Our comprehensive range of services includes:

  • 24/7 emergency assistance

  • Aluminum wiring replacement

  • Thorough electrical safety assessments

  • Generator and lighting installations

  • GFCI outlet setups

  • Car charging station installations

At Parker & Sons, we prioritize your peace of mind above all else. Backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, we pledge to deliver exceptional customer service without additional fees for nights, weekends, or holidays. Benefit from our stellar reputation as Arizona's most esteemed service company since 1974 and schedule your appointment with Parker & Sons today!


Understanding electrical conductivity and the different conductive elements is crucial for anyone involved in electronics, electrical engineering, or even homeowners looking to make smart choices for their electrical systems. From the top conductors, silver, copper, and gold, to other significant players like aluminum, brass, and stainless steel, each material brings its unique set of advantages and limitations to the table.

Whether you’re selecting a conductor for a specific application or ensuring the safety of your home’s electrical system, having the right knowledge at your fingertips is key. And when in doubt, remember that the team at Parker & Sons is always ready to help with your electrical needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is gold or copper a better conductor?

Copper is a better conductor than gold due to its higher electrical conductivity of 5.96 x10^7 S/m compared to gold's 4.11x10^7 S/m.

What is the most used conductor of electricity?

Copper is the most commonly used conductor of electricity due to its high conductivity, making it a popular choice for metal wiring. Silver and gold are also highly conductive metals.

Why is copper commonly used in electrical applications?

Copper is commonly used in electrical applications because it is affordable, highly conductive, and versatile, making it a popular choice for various electrical uses.

Can nonmetals conduct electricity?

Yes, most nonmetals are insulators, but some, like diamond, amorphous carbon, and graphite, can conduct electricity. Therefore, it depends on the specific nonmetal in question.

What factors influence electrical conductivity?

The factors that influence electrical conductivity are temperature, impurities, and crystalline structure. These elements all play a role in determining the conductivity of a material.

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