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Open Roads Forum  >  Class A Motorhomes  >  Maintenance Issues & Tips

 > DP side mount radiator is aluminum or copper better?

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larry cad

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Posted: 08/12/19 05:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a 2000 American Coach with a Spartan chassis. The side mount radiator is leaking and must be replaced which I am going to do myself. I have been studying replacement radiators and many comments state aluminum is better than copper because it conducts heat better than copper. As a bonus, the aluminum radiators are typically about $200 cheaper. The aluminum radiator typically has plastic tanks and the copper radiator has brass tanks. The copper built is older technology and has many supporters of course.

I am also considering installing a baffle below the radiator to shield it from dust blown up by the fan.

Any thoughts or personal experience with either of the two types??


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12th Man Fan

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Posted: 08/12/19 06:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Copper Brass is always the better of the two but usually quite a bit more expensive.

Aluminum will work just fine but the copper/brass is much higher quality and should last longer.


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larry cad

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Posted: 08/12/19 06:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Interestingly, the manufacturers offer the exact same warranty for both aluminum and copper of 2 years. I would think the more expensive one would have a longer warranty.

MountainAir05

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Posted: 08/12/19 07:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

just help a friend replace one on a wonderlodge and he replace with Aluminum one. He stated that it ran cooler than the one taken out which was copper which had a bad leaks. I know it was a lot lighter than the one taken out. Ran across this info, some good reading.

http://csfimports.com/copper-brass-radiators/

* This post was edited 08/14/19 12:32pm by MountainAir05 *

sailor_lou

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Posted: 08/13/19 06:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As with most things, it not as simple as which one is better. Copper conducts heat better (water to metal), but aluminum transfers heat better into the environment (metal to air). The real key is heat dissipation of both radiators, which considers many different factors (ie: materials, size, number of rows, fin design and spacing, air flow, etc). Do the manufactures provide any info on total heat dissipation?


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rgatijnet1

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Posted: 08/13/19 07:17am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Usually the fluid lines on the copper ones are copper but the fins are aluminum. On the all aluminum radiators, the lines and the fins are aluminum.
The road salts can eat away the fins the same on both. The key is to keep the radiator clean with Simple Green EXTREME, which is not corrosive and will not bother aluminum if all of it is not rinsed away. Do not use regular Simple Green. The best way is to squirt the cleaning fluid in from the front side and then apply water pressure from the backside to wash the debris out instead of forcing it deeper in to the fins.

allbrandauto

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Posted: 08/13/19 09:56am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

copper can be fixed aluminum is throw away

larry cad

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Posted: 08/13/19 11:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

allbrandauto wrote:

copper can be fixed aluminum is throw away


The first one I changed and also this one are both copper and both got chucked in the scrap.

12th Man Fan

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Posted: 08/13/19 02:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In my opinion the weak link of the aluminum radiator is the plastic tanks. I am sure they both work equally well but I prefer the copper.

Chum lee

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Posted: 08/13/19 04:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As long as you use the right coolant and maintain it regularly, IMO, for heavy duty trucks, copper-brass (tanks) on copper-brass (tubes) on copper (fins) win, hands down, every time. They are heavier, generally repairable, more expensive, (than aluminum) and getting harder to find. (and no, I'm not dissing aluminum radiators)

If you're worried about the warranty, IMO, you are buying the wrong product. IMO, a well built brass radiator, well maintained, has a life span measured in decades. If you want to low ball the price, then you NEED a good warranty and roadside assistance!

Chum lee

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