Aluminum wire vs. copper wire

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  #1  
Old 09-11-00, 10:13 AM
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I am in the process of doing some rewiring and new wiring in my new house. I have just discoverd that most of the existing wire is AL. I am not familiar with AL wiring. I've always dealt strictly with copper.

What do I need to know about AL wire?
How should I proceed with all the new copper that I be installing?

Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-11-00, 02:31 PM
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Hi Bulldawg13,

The key to remember is that they do not mix.
Since you are adding you shouldn't have a problem. Run completely new circuits, do not tie into the AL ones. Just wire as you know with copper.
If you must make connections, you will need to use special connectors or if at a device, such as a receptacle, you can use the double terminal screws for each kind without having them touch.
The only place that you then need to watch is that the (bare) grounds do not touch in the panel. If you feel they might or you need to cross them, just use green phase tape around either one so that they do not touch.
good luck
 
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Old 09-12-00, 10:52 AM
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In defese of aluminum wiring, there is nothing wrong with aluminum wiring IF INSTALLED CORRECTLY.

We all have heard horror stories about aluminum wiring when first installed in houses back in the 60s and 70s. They did not know at that time the problems that were experienced wiring a dwelling in aluminum wiring.

As a result aluminum wiring got a bad rep.

The resistance of aluminum wiring is approx. 21.2 and the resistance of copper wiring is approx. 12.9 If you run aluminum you would have to run approximately one size larger aluminum wire that you would if it was copper, because of the increased resistance. The electricity will flow about equal if the aluminum wire is inceased in size about one size. If you want to be exact then look in Chapter 9 Table 8 for the resistance table in the NEC.

The only thing that they should have done in wiring houses back in the 60s or 70s that they did not know at the time was that aluminum connections must have an anti-oxidation inhibiter type grease applied to all aluminum connections. The generic term for this grease is NOLOX, found in most electrical supply houses.

If you plan to utilize the aluminum wiring and want to feel safe with this older wiring then go back to all connections that exist in that older dwelling and check for damage caused by loose connection [inherant to the problem requiring the NOLOX application to all junctions]. If the connections look good and no damage is present apply NOLOX to the end of the conductor and make sure you are using a device or connector labeled AL/Cu depicting approved for use with aluminum wiring. The application of NOLOX, the checking all junctions for present damage, and using Al/Cu. type devices and connectors should ensure a long life of your electrical systems.

Not trying to sell aluminum just trying to promote knowledge.

Good Luck

Wg
 
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Old 09-19-00, 02:35 PM
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I'm not an electrician, but I also have Al wiring in my house. I found some interesting info at the following site: http://homerepair.about.com/homegard.../aluminum.htm. There are articles describing how to pigtail Cu to Al. Somewhere on that site they claim that NoAlox should not be used because it's flammable (they recommend Penetrox A). Also, Ideal wire nuts are ridiculed (they recommend Scotchlock).
 
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Old 09-19-00, 04:14 PM
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Both Nolox and Ideal wire nuts are UL approved, listed, and labled, and approved by the NEC, the same as Scotch Locks. I must question why people try to stake judgements on one product over another, by personal opinions without documentation. The NEC says material must be listed, labeled, and approved. Both items that you mentioned that are being questioned are both listed and approved by several testing labrotories, that are accepted in the electrical industries.
Now I challenge those making personal judgements to provide documented cases of failure and an explaination why the product is still listed, labeled and approved by the testing agencies, and the NEC, before they state their personal feelings.

Best regards

Wg
 
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Old 09-20-00, 03:55 AM
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wbgoodrich....for a twenty year compilation of aluminum wiring practices and connectors, you will want to see this...www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/alreduce.htm....this web address should take you straight to it.
Regards,
Dave S. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by wgoodrich:
Both Nolox and Ideal wire nuts are UL approved, listed, and labled, and approved by the NEC, the same as Scotch Locks. I must question why people try to stake judgements on one product over another, by personal opinions without documentation. The NEC says material must be listed, labeled, and approved. Both items that you mentioned that are being questioned are both listed and approved by several testing labrotories, that are accepted in the electrical industries.
Now I challenge those making personal judgements to provide documented cases of failure and an explaination why the product is still listed, labeled and approved by the testing agencies, and the NEC, before they state their personal feelings.

Best regards

Wg
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 
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Old 09-20-00, 05:22 AM
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Dave S., thanks for the corrected website. The link I gave was from my browser bookmark which is apparently a link to the proper link and doesn't translate directly. The site I was trying to give was http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum.htm.

wbgoodrich, I didn't mean to disagree with you at all since I'm in no way an electrician. It's just that this site appears to carry the latest thinking by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, including what seems to be documented evidence of Ideal 65 connector field failures. BTW, I've tested both NoAlox and Burndy's Penetrox A myself for flammability with a match. The NoAlox burned like a candle, but the Penetrox just kind of melted. I had both antioxidants because I used NoAlox before I saw the above website. Then I bought the Penetrox and have been using that since to reconnect my fixtures with the pigtailing technique (I can't seem to find Al/Cu fixtures). The only electrician I could find who used to be certified to do the Copalum connections said he doesn't do it anymore (he uses the Ideal 65 connectors these days for Al-Cu).

 
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Old 09-20-00, 05:25 AM
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The period at the end of my Sep 20 hyperlink doesn't need to be there.
 
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Old 09-20-00, 01:09 PM
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Thanks for the referrence to the web site you mentioned. I checked it out yesterday, not fully but fairly well, will go back if given time, might be interesting.

I looked at the statements being made and the names being dropped. I also checked his bios. He mentions teaching, and 20 years experience in two trades. I didn't find any National Inspector testing organizations that he has been tested or any statements that he has passed any testing to prove his knowledge and credibility. I question why he does not mention licensing, certification, etc. in his bios.
I did pick up in my opinion what seem to be an anger in him. He stated that he made speeches in some rather influential places, but also mentions that he was never asked back. That was when I started questioning whether his web page is unbiased. Seems a lot of feeling in his reports.
In my statements concerning aluminum wiring I did not try to imply that I liked aluminum. I tried to apply that the electrical industry approves the installation of branch circuit aluminum wiring for as small as 15 amps, still today.
The NEC Code committees are made up of some very qualified people. I know several personally. They are quite detailed in their decisions, using reports of hazards, fires, and accidents.
I stated before that when aluminum wiring was first introduced the industry made several design mistakes. This is normal in a frontier setting without the "in the market" performance reports. These problems were at the same time that your web site stated, and at the same time that I mentioned in a repy when this subject was brought up.
The difference that I question form emotion and personal feeligs, is that consumer reports do not condemn aluminum wiring in smaller conductors. They reported only of the problem not to condemn a product. He leads you to believe that aluminum wiring is condemned by the consumer protection assoc.
If you will reread the aluminum report at the web site mentioned, then you should find all documentation of damage, accidents, etc. related to the connections of the aluminum wire not the aluminum wire. Even by his own recommendation [the web site] they recognize the prohibitive nature due to affordability of a total rewire and suggest inspecting and repairing the connections only as an option. By his own statements he admits that the problem is in the connections not the aluminum conductor.
The higher resistance mentioned of aluminum wire is addressed by the NEC by requiring 12Ga al. to be limited to 15 amp, and 10 ga al. limited to 20 amp not because it is aluminum but because 12 ga. aluminum resistance is comparitive to 14 ga copper. The ampacity is related to the resistance of a conductor, not the properties of the conductor.
Again I am not trying to sell aluminum. I myself would not recommend wiring by minimum safety standards only, and would not want to wire my home in aluminum small conductors.
I am trying to promote knowledge. Knowledge, without biased fears and personal feelings, is the worlds best asset.
I seldom judge others. On this subject I have been questioned, and that is fine with me, that is how we learn. To defend my stance and to see what the question is, was what I did. I checked the author of the web site's bio. I feel that I am more qualified, than the author by his bios and can voice a response to your verification using the web site mentioned.
I have owned an electrical company for thiry years, that grossed 1.3 mil a year with many employees the entire thirty years,
I am Nationally certified by national testing agencies in 1 & 2 family, unlimited, and Plan Review electrical inspectors qualification test that I have successfully passed. I am also Master qualified, and have taught electrical for several high schools, and 3 different colleges, and several professional master qualified electricians and engineers were my students. I also have written 2 electrical technical books, one of which is archived as an instructional book for college level. I have been the instructor for several years for State Inspectors in this state.

I was their when the mistakes were made with aluminum when introduced to the industry, I wouldn't wire aluminum at the time either. I was there to correct several of the aluminum homes wired in that time frame, and never got called back or heard of a problem after we corrected the connections of the aluminum wiring.
If the equipment is properly installed and are listed or approved connectors, designed for the purpose [approved for aluminum conductors or copper conductors or both] will work in a safe and dependable manner.
I have been brought in by government agencies, and saw the clean spot on the carpet where the kids died due to electrical fire and the clean spot on the carpet where the dad died trying to get to the kids. Wouldn't have happened in my opinion if smoke detectors were operating in that dwelling and the dwelling was in copper wiring. Kind of burns in your memory. That is why I spend time making these replies, to promote knowledge, not just opinions.
I still stand on the fact that aluminum can be safely repaired, [would rather see it replaced, but can be repaired], and by the web site that you mentioned he says that too.
He seem to condemn all connectors but one brand. I have a problem with that outlook, sorta sounds biased to me.
The electrical industry introduced recessed light fixtures in the electrical field. We discovered that these recessed fixtures were causing several fires in homes. We did not condemn recessed fixtures for 30 years. We tested and found that the recessed fixtures needed a thermal overload installed in the fixture to ensure the light bulbs could not be raised in wattage anymore causing the fires. The thermostats shut the recessed fixture off before overheating can occur. We did not condemn, we researched and corrected the problem, both on the recessed light fixtures, and the connections on aluminum wiring designs. We need to address aluminum wiring the same way as we addressed recessed fixtures. Not by horror stories but by cause and correcting that cause. That is what was done. This correction in design is why aliminum wiring is still approved today.
I am not here to judge or recommend. Just promote knowledge
Hope this sheds some light on the subject an mayby get you to look at the strength and reason of your source before jumping on the band wagon. Not trying to condemn the web site. Seems to have some good info in it and can be quite informative, just concerned that it may be personal in nature, more than unbiased. Just trying to promote caution of believing without confirmation.
Thanks for the web site and the discussion on knowledge and what is right. Probably didn't solve all problems, but showed more than one side of the coin.

This is healthy.

Wg
 
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