Aluminum Wire for 240V Baseboard Electric Heaters

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Old 01-26-09, 12:24 PM
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Aluminum Wire for 240V Baseboard Electric Heaters

I picked up 5 programmable line voltage thermostats to replace the vintage 1970s dial type thermostats. Hoping to trim my electric heat costs a bit.

Well, I shut off the power, pulled the first one, and it's aluminum wire spliced with red wire nuts. No copalum connection. Not even purple wire nuts.

So, caught between a rock and a hot place, I went ahead and connected the new thermostat and used the new red wire nut in the package.

I have not encountered ANY aluminum wire elsewhere in the house, and I've replaced a number of lightswitches and outlets. It's all been 12 gauge copper until now.

I found a reference in here to AlumiConn connectors. Anyone used them?

I'm leaning towards picking up some purple wire nuts tonight from the hardware store and swap out the red wire nuts. And also order a bag of AlumiConn connectors and install those as soon as they arrive. I'm guessing I won't find AlumiConn at Home Depot, Lowes or even McLendons.

All four of the other wall mounted thermostats are probably original so I'm guessing they are wired with aluminum as well. House has been added onto at least twice, but from looking at other houses in the development I'd say these are original.

At this point, I'm thinking I'll run new circuits in the spring and get rid of the aluminum altogether. Figure having a licensed electrician do the connections to the panel, get rid of all aluminum, and swap out the Federal Pacific panel, would be three dead birds at once.

There are also four wall mounted fan type heaters with thermostats on the units. These were all part of additions, made sometime in the 70s or 80s, but gawd I hope they aren't also wired with aluminum.
 
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Old 01-26-09, 01:06 PM
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I don't have any personal experience with the Alumiconns. They have not been on the market too long and I don't see much AL wire either.

I have heard for them to be installed properly according to the instruction sheet that a torque screwdriver must be used.

There are connectors made by Polaris that can be used with AL and CU. They are preinsulated and easy to use but are pricey.
 
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Old 01-27-09, 02:51 PM
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Old 01-27-09, 03:27 PM
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I can't comment about the Al connectors... but are you sure that it's aluminum wire? During a specific period, copper clad wire was used. It looks like aluminum, but if you cut the wire or scrape the top layer off, it's actually copper wire. This type of wire can be terminated like copper wire (since it is copper wire).

Just wanted to be sure before you jump through all the aluminum hoops.
 
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Old 01-29-09, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorfdt View Post
Iare you sure that it's aluminum wire? During a specific period, copper clad wire was used.
Good point. The house overall appears to be wired with CCAW, copper clad aluminum wire. Replaced a couple of switches yesterday, and I nipped off the end of a wire. Copper on the outside, silver on the inside, and 12 AWG. It's CCAW.

The 240V baseboard heaters though, they definitely are wired with aluminum. Four 240V circuits.
 
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