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Short #24 – Hard vs. Soft Copper (Podcast)

Many technicians use hard or soft copper without thinking about which application is best for which. In this short podcast, Bryan talks about where to use each. He also covers some hanging and strapping strategies.

Residential service technicians typically work with soft copper. Conversely, commercial techs are probably much familiar with the hard variety. Both hard and soft types are good for specific applications.

If you need to work the copper, then the soft type is best for that. You can bend it by hand or with a bender without too much trouble, and it is ideal for flaring and swaging. However, it does not hang well and is not very structurally sound. If you need to hang copper through an attic or light commercial space, then you're really better off with the hard type. The soft kind also doesn't look quite as nice as its hard counterpart when you use it to feed several condensers with a line set.

Hard copper is straight, rigid, and holds up much better than the soft kind when it must be strapped, and it sometimes comes with rubber plugs. Strapping is not a practice that we commonly think about in residential HVAC, but we still need to strap our piping appropriately. We can use Unistrut and clamps to strap our piping correctly. You can bend, swage, and flare hard copper, but you must heat it before you work it; the hard variety can take a lot more abuse than soft copper and is much more durable. You also probably can't transport this type of copper in a van easily, as it can come in very long segments.

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