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Installation with copper or PP-R - Advantages and disadvantages

"What should I choose: copper or PPR (polypropylene) installation? What are the advantages and disadvantages?" - these are the first questions that come to mind when you want to renovate your house. It is an important aspect as the comfort of your home depends largely on the sanitary and heating system.

We answer these questions in the article by describing the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pipe, as well as aspects to consider when buying pipes and fittings for the plumbing installation in your home.

Choosing the plumbing installation Types of plumbing installations and their particularities What to consider when choosing the plumbing installation Copper installation Properties of copper Advantages of copper installation over polypropylene Disadvantages of copper installation compared to polypropylene Applications where a copper installation is recommended Polypropylene PPR installation

What is polypropylene and what are its properties

Types of polypropylene pipes

Advantages of PPR installation over copper

Disadvantages of PPR installation compared to copper

Applications where a PPR installation is recommended

Choosing the Sanitary Installation

Choosing the materials from which the pipes, bends, and fittings of the sanitary installation are made is an important decision that depends on the durability, maintenance, appearance of the home, and the efficiency of a circuit (heating or sanitary).

On the market, there are different variants of pipes classified according to the material they are made of, each having characteristics that make them suitable for various types of circuits. In specialty stores, you can choose pipes made of metal (copper, steel, cast iron) or polymer pipes made of plastic (PVC, PEX, PPR), each material presenting advantages and disadvantages.

In recent years, the most commonly chosen pipes are PPR (polypropylene) and copper pipes, which are resistant to high temperatures and pressure conditions, as well as other characteristics that we will analyze further.

Types of Sanitary Installations and their Characteristics

The sanitary installation includes the entire set of pipes in a hot and cold water circuit, which must meet certain health standards. In modern systems, the water is heated by a heating system, part of a thermal installation. This includes heating equipment, radiators, and related pipes.

For each circuit (sanitary/thermal), you must choose the suitable pipes for the installation's specific requirements.

Pipes for the bathroom and kitchen sanitary installation

Durability and resistance to high temperatures and pressures are qualities to consider regardless of whether the pipes are part of the heating circuit or for hot-cold household water. For example, copper pipes are not resistant, and their chemical characteristics do not allow the formation of microbes. In a household water circuit, maintaining the water quality without developing bacteria is essential. In this context, pipes made of this metal are an option due to their anti-microbial properties, provided that the water has a pH between 6.5 and 8.5 (Cu is not recommended to be used in an acidic environment).

For bathroom and kitchen installations, copper or PPR pipes can be used, the latter being the cheaper option.

Pipes for heating installation with radiators

Copper may be an option for the bathroom's sanitary installation for cold water pipes but is less suitable for installations with aluminum or steel radiators. A electrochemical reaction occurs between the components of copper and those of aluminum, which can lead to radiator damage over time.

PPR pipes are much more efficient for aluminum radiators. PPR is lightweight, resistant, the radiator pipes can be concealed in an apparent installation in the house, the material does not allow for deposits to form (unlike steel and cast iron, which are corrosive), and does not react electrochemically to the material from which the radiator is made.

PPR pipes are simple or have composite or aluminum inserts and are suitable for circuits with a thermal agent.

Thus, the PPR installation for the heating system is a good option when you have aluminum or steel radiators.

Pipes for underfloor heating installation The best pipe for underfloor heating is PE-X, which is flexible and easy to install, resistant to high temperatures, water pressure in the circuit, and the weight of the screed. At the same time, PEX pipes have a high thermal efficiency.

Polypropylene pipes are another option for underfloor heating, but copper pipes can also be installed. When designing the installation, consider the brittle and thermo-conductive properties of the materials. For underfloor or surface installations, insulated 22-gauge copper pipes or PPR pipes with inserts can also be used.

What to consider when choosing a plumbing installation The criteria to consider when choosing the material for the plumbing installation are:

The service life of the installation;

The robustness of the material;

The thermal conductivity properties of the material;

The ease of installation according to the household application;

The resistance of the pipes under extreme temperature and pressure conditions;

Exposure to corrosion;

The level of safety for domestic water (if the material can be used for a sanitary installation and a hot water circuit in conditions of maximum safety, without allowing the formation of microorganisms);

Aesthetic criteria - how will the copper or PPR pipes be installed (buried, exposed);

Where the pipes are installed (radiators, domestic water installation, thermal circuits, etc.);

The budget allocated to the plumbing/heating installation.

Disadvantages of copper installations compared to polypropylene The biggest disadvantage of copper installations is the much higher price. On the other hand, the price of copper fittings versus PPR fittings balances out. The cheapest copper pipe is at least 20% more expensive than that made of polypropylene, considering the price per linear meter. Moreover, due to the widely used material that records increasing quotations on the international market, cheap copper pipes cannot be found.

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