While rising copper prices have attracted most of the headlines in recent years, the cost of zinc is also hitting new heights, according to an article published in the May 12, 2006 edition of Electrical Marketing newsletter.

Several electrical manufacturers said zinc die cast fittings are up 50% or more since the beginning of the year. The price of weatherproof boxes, covers, and other products containing zinc have jumped significantly in price as well.

Some companies are beginning to turn to steel instead of zinc because of the high zinc prices, said some sources. “Right now, if I'm Mr. Contractor and I can get a steel fitting for half the price of what die cast is going to be, I'm going steel right now, says Mark Gibson, a manufacturers' rep with Wood Dale, Ill.-based Agents Midwest. “And no one can predict when zinc is going to settle down.”

David Rosenstein, president of Brook Electrical/Sonepar USA, Lincolnshire, Ill., says some companies consider steel as an alternative to zinc die cast, but he does not believe that product lines in steel are as wide or as deep as they are in die cast. “There are a lot of unique fittings that have zinc in them,” he says.

Like the rising price of other commodities, no one knows exactly when zinc is going to reach its high, although most die cast fittings manufacturers believe it is close now.