Pipe Systems

Copper is the ideal material for plumbing, heating, gas and fire sprinkler pipework
Copper is the ideal material for plumbing, heating, gas and fire sprinkler pipework

Copper is probably the most used material for plumbing in Europe.

These are the main benefits of copper tube:

Reliable and time proven: copper has been conveying water for thousands of years: the first known installation was laid in an ancient Egyptian temple, almost 5,000 years ago.

High resistance: It can withstand extreme high and low temperatures and pressures and can be exposed to the UV rays, temperature and oxygen of outside environments.

Versatile: copper tube is used in many services: drinking water, heating (traditional and radiant), gas, medical gases, solar energy systems, fire sprinklers, air conditioning systems. It meets the requirements of safety in an unmatched, wide range of temperatures and pressures.

Energy saving: Thanks to its excellent thermal conductivity, copper is the best material to exchange heat (or cold fluids). That’s why the most efficient radiant heating have circuits in copper tube.

Hygenic: Copper is an excellent tube material for installations to combat build up of germs and bacteria, like legionella.

Recyclable: In cases of demolition or renovation, copper tube can be 100% recycled without loss of performance; so, the volume of waste at landfill is not increased and the mine resources are not further exploited.

Healthy: The tube is made of 99,90% copper, and the composition will not change in time; no additives, volatile organic compounds or pigments are inside it. Beyond that, it is the material of choice for transport of medical gases - like pure oxygen - in hospitals.

Beautiful: Copper tube can be fitted on the outside of a wall and, thanks to its attractive look, can even be exploited to make beautiful wall radiators.

Versatile: Copper tube and its fittings meet international standards. They are available in all European markets and components of a pipework system are exchangeable, whoever is the producer.

Drinking water

Copper has a unique feature among the materials used for the transport of drinking water: its hygenic properties can fight and inhibit the proliferation of bacteria coming in contact with its inner surface, like legionella pneumophila.  This helps the drinking water to be healthy. Several research papers have proved this benefit of copper, and some hospitals have decided to install copper tube for their water piping system to protect the health of their patients. In addition, copper tube can release only copper ions into water, which are necessary for the metabolism of our body: the water we drink and use will not contain additives, pigments, VOCs or other synthetic compounds.


Copper is the material of choice for heating installations, thanks to its reliability and safety. It melts at 1083°C:  therefore, hot water or steam do not soften or alter the shape of the tube; high temperature does not shorten the life of the tube, and consequently the life of the installation. In addition, copper has excellent thermal conductivity and, for that reason, is the most efficient material for systems that have to exchange heat. This is the case, for example, with underfloor or underwall radiant heating: systems made with copper have shorter piping paths compared to plastic systems, which means less head loss and less energy consumption for the circulation pumps.

Gas transport

Copper tube for gas can be placed almost everywhere: indoor and outdoor, embedded, in the ground or in dedicated structures, because it is able to meet the safety requirements for this kind of installation. The red metal is not permeable to gases and air, so no leakage or contamination from outside is possible; oxygen, UV rays and temperature do not lower its mechanical properties. All over Europe copper tube is allowed by standards; designers and installers rely on it, knowing that it doesn’t burn or propagate fire (class A1 to reaction to a fire) and it provides gas-tight joints.
Related ResourcesHere are related resources.  To browse and search all resources, visit the Resource Library.
    Pub 827 - Copper Solar Thermal Systems
    £ 0.00
    Energy and renewables, Pipe systems
    design, installation, pipework, plumbing, solar, solar thermal, tube
    This publication outlines the methodology for the design and installation of copper solar thermal systems. It includes an introduction to the concept of the solar thermal system, the types of solar collectors available, the major components in a typical solar thermal system, how to install copper pipework and the sizing of the installation, the collectors and storage cylinders.
    Pub 826 - Copper Pipework Services in Modern Buildings - A Specifier's Guide
    Pipe systems
    durability, fittings installation, pipework, plumbing, recyclability, sustainability , tube, versatile
    This publication, aimed at material specifiers, details the many reasons why copper is the number one material for pipework services. In addition to the information on copper tube and fittings, there is environmental information on copper, its sustainability and recyclability. 2009. 12pp
    Pub 807 - Installation Tips
    Pipe systems
    brazing, fittings installation, gas , installation, installer, pipework, plumbing, press fitting, refrigeration, solar, soldering, tube
    A collection of practical articles on subjects of interest to plumbing installers and students. Topics covered include tube bending, soldering, pipe sizing, installations for gas, water, vacuum, medical gases, refrigeration and solar hot water systems.
    Pub 150 - Copper Tubes in Domestic Heating Systems
    Pipe systems
    design, heating, pipework, plumbing, resistance, tube
    This publication examines the most effective way to select the right sized tube diameters, advising on the key stages of building a heating system, such as assessing flow rates, flow resistance and pump performance. Includes tables to assess the length of copper tube needed for a variety of fitting types and to calculate the resistance flow per unit length of tube. 2001. 8pp. (Out of print.)
    Pub 149 - Large Diameter Copper Tubes for Industrial and Commercial Heating Applications
    Pipe systems
    corrosion, designer, pipework, plumbing, resistance, tube
    This publication explains to architects, designers and specifiers the uses of copper and copper alloys in commercial and industrial heating systems using tube sizes of 28-159mm diameter. System components, pipework jointing, tube bending and corrosion resistance are all covered. 2001. 15pp.
    Pub 147 - Copper Residential Sprinkler Systems for Life Safety and Property Protection
    Pipe systems
    design, fire sprinkler, installation, pipework, protection, safety, study
    This leaflet describes the sprinkler protection installed in 212 properties at Studley Green, a £10 million project to redevelop the pre-cast reinforced concrete former Council properties on the Studley Green estate. 2001. 4pp.
    Pub 125 - Copper Fire Sprinkler Systems for Residential and Domestic Properties
    Pipe systems
    design, fire sprinkler, installation, pipework
    This design and installation book gives information on water supplies, systems components and materials, hydraulic calculations, pipework installation, system commissioning, maintenance and documentation. 1997. 24pp.
    Pub 124 - Copper for Domestic Natural Gas Installations
    Pipe systems
    design, gas , installation, pipework, plumbing
    This design and installation guide gives information on materials, components, pipe sizing, jointing, safety, electrical bonding, testing and purging. 1997. 30pp.
    Pub 088 - Copper Tube in Buildings
    Pipe systems
    building, installation, pipework, plumbing, tube
    Information on the installation of copper pipework systems in buildings and information on compatibility of copper with various construction materials and chemicals. 2000. 19pp.
    Pub 033 - Copper Tube in Domestic Water Services
    Pipe systems
    design, installation, pipework, plumbing, tube
    Information on the design and installation of copper domestic water services. Includes pipework jointing, tube bending, DZR brass. 2000. 36pp. (Out of print.)
    IS 36 - Dezincification Resistant Brass
    Pipe systems
    alloys, brass, fittings installation, installation, tube
    In some areas of the UK, the presence of otherwise harmless impurities in the potable water makes it aggressive to duplex brass producing a form of attack known as dezincification. 1982. 4pp.
    An Introduction to Solar Thermal Systems
    Pipe systems
    pipework, plumbing, plumber
    This presentation provides a basic introduction to solar thermal systems for use in the UK.
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Website for home owners, self-builders and renovators. Suggestions on how to use copper in the home.

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Online resources for students, teachers and plumbers on copper pipework services.

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