Is this aluminum wire??

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  #1  
Old 03-20-06, 07:49 PM
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Is this aluminum wire??

I have a seemingly stupid question that hopefully someone can help with:

I recently installed an electric heating system in my house using copper wire.

Surprisingly however, the honeywell high-voltage, direct-line thermostat I purchased to run the system "seems" to be stranded alumimum wire. I am saying this becuase it certainly is not the typical copper color and appears to be a whitish-type metal.

When I look at the specs in the thermostat directions, its states the wire is stranded 'copper' however (despite it not appearing the typical copper color).

Knowing that Cu-AL connections is not the best for multiple reasons, I have asked a few people who I thought may have some experinec on this subject, yet I have received differing answers:
1) the guy at the home depot where I bought the thermostat said that copper wire can sometimes look whitish like aluminum, and does not always have to be typical copper color (i.e: it might be coated with something or an alloy)...Furthermore, if the directions state that it is copper, then it probably is...so no special connections would be required.
2) The electrician I hired to wire the heating system to my panel said the wire looked like Al to him, yet he surprisingly didn't say that any special connections were required either, and just used regular wire connectors, which kinda has me nervous since what I have read so far leads me to belive that Cu-AL connections are not cool, especially when powering a 240volt heating system.

So my question is what do you think this "mystery wire" is?
Is there such a thing as copper wire that doesn't look copper in color?
Or do you think the thermostat directions are incorrect, and somewhere along the maufactering process, Honeywell swapped out copper for aluminum wire?
If you think it is Al wire, despite my electrician's opinion, I should definitely get those special wire connectors with the anti-oxident, right??

Thanks in advance for all the help!
 
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  #2  
Old 03-20-06, 08:05 PM
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I'm sure the experts will be along soon but in general tinned (coated with solder) copper wire will be silver colored. It's not uncommon to tin the ends of stranded wires.
 
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Old 03-20-06, 08:10 PM
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ray2047 has called it. Copper wires tinned.
 
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Old 03-20-06, 08:59 PM
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#1- First and foremost, The only STUPID question known to man..... IS the one never asked!!!
As Ray2047, Has stated It is not uncommon for manufacured devices to be "TINNED".
\Your "SPECS" I'm sure are correct,(Trim back the conductors). I'm sure you'll see.

QUOTE:
1) "the guy at the home depot where I bought the thermostat said that copper wire can sometimes look whitish like aluminum, and does not always have to be typical copper color (i.e: it might be coated with something or an alloy)...Furthermore, if the directions state that it is copper, then it probably is...so no special connections would be required."

CONSIDER the SOURCE. (above)

2) The electrician I hired to wire the heating system to my panel said the wire looked like Al to him, yet he surprisingly didn't say that any special connections were required either, and just used regular wire connectors, which kinda has me nervous since what I have read so far leads me to belive that Cu-AL connections are not cool, especially when powering a 240volt heating system.

Did you ask For his/her Credentials?

Most PROS: would know aluminium IMMEDIATELY !! And If I'm not mistaken "CU-AL" connectors are good for either.
Who purchased the cable? What is the size? What is the load?

"Mystery cable", should'nt be!... Somebody bought it.
Depends on the size of the conductors, either copper or "AL"
T-STAT- Chances are they(MFG) are correct (LIABILITY).
Last Question.. No,Buy COPPER (Wich I'm sure you have)
 
  #5  
Old 03-20-06, 10:23 PM
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If the thermostat says it was manufactured with copper wire then quit worrying about it. Tinned copper wire is quite common. It would also be VERY unlikely you would have aluminum wire smaller than #8 that is stranded. (I checked numerous electrical wire manufacturer's sites). If you still have to check, trimming back the insulation on the conductors to check for copper won't help if each strand is tinned. Look at the ends or take a knife and scrape one of the strands and you will see copper.

Yes, aluminum wire used in various house wiring applications is a problem. These applications are 15 and 20 AMP branch circuits where the wire in the NM cable (Romex) is aluminum instead of copper. Unless you have this problem in your home it is unlikely you will ever see aluminum wire other than what might be used at the electric service from the utility and maybe the wire to the meter and panel main breaker, or for a range/dryer feed.
 
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Old 03-20-06, 10:31 PM
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Hi UncleBill, Do they really Tin the entire length of copper strand? I thought they just tinned the exposed ends as a group.
 
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Old 03-21-06, 05:40 AM
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Thanks for all the advice.

Just to clarify, I did already try trimming back the thermostat wires, and they were still a white-appearing metal; however, I guess if each wire is tinned as suggested above, that certainly would be expected.

I didn't try to scrape-down a wire to see if copper is underneath, so I'll give that a try.

Finally, why in the world do device manufacterers tin the copper lead wires to begin with when copper is such a good conductor to begin with? Does it actually help with conductivity, connections, or something? I also assume that using the standard Cu-Cu wire connectors is still fine with tinned wire, right?
 
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Old 03-21-06, 06:49 AM
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Tinned wire is extremely popular in the electronics industry, where soldering is typical. Tin (or solder) coating reduces corrosion.
 
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Old 03-21-06, 07:41 AM
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Look down at the freshly cut end of the wire. You should be able to see a tiny bit of copper color inside the silver color.
 
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Old 03-21-06, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wfrese
Finally, why in the world do device manufacterers tin the copper lead wires to begin with when copper is such a good conductor to begin with?
Pre-tinned wire results in a better soldered connection, especially when a robot or other machinery is doing the assembly in the factory.

I also assume that using the standard Cu-Cu wire connectors is still fine with tinned wire, right?
Yes.
 
  #11  
Old 03-24-06, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by lectriclee
Hi UncleBill, Do they really Tin the entire length of copper strand? I thought they just tinned the exposed ends as a group.
They may do either.
 
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