Aluminum Service Wire, Is It Safe? - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 10-29-2011, 10:50 PM   #1
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Aluminum service wire, is it safe?

Hello, I am new here at think this is a good forum for me. We have been developing a run down abandoned dairy farm for the last ten years. I trenched several aluminum feeders for sub panels; barn, solar, garage. We did use a paste called Noalox on the lugs. Is this adequate? We did not torque the lugs! Should I torque them and perhaps apply more Noalox? Has anyone had a problem with aluminum? Thanks.


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Old 10-30-2011, 12:40 AM   #2
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Aluminum is quite safe for main feeds. And sometimes that is all you can get for larger wires.

And yes you do need to brush on an Anti-Oxidant compound all around the bare wire where the connection will be. I use an old toothbrush. Others use a wire brush.

Then tightening the main lugs to the inch pounds specified on the panel label or installation instructions is a must! 12 inch pounds = 1 foot pound. I use a cheap automotive torque wrench with the indicator needle. With that you can see low inch pound readings. The click kind of torque wrenches might only "click" at 10 foot pounds, so you might tighten it too tight with one of those.

And that is the other good thing about using a torque wrench. If you have a "muscle man" on the crew, he will not tighten things too tight and strip them!'

Anyway main electrical connections have a LOT of amperage and "tight" as opposed to "properly tight - tighter" can make a BIG difference in the electrical contact! You would not think it would matter, but it actually does...

Connections with these large amperage connections will get warm or hot if not tight enough. It is actually a poor connection if not tight to specs. Then as you alternate between using electricity and not using electricity, the connection might get hot, then cold, then hot, then cold. They can work themselves loose. Or the connection can fail totally.

P.S. And tightness has nothing to do with aluminum. High amperage copper connections need to be torqued too. Also if you dig around and read regular electrical outlet instruction pdf's, some of these will say how tight to torque the screws on those too! (I've never done that...)


Last edited by Billy_Bob; 10-30-2011 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:52 AM   #3
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Torque wrench in my wrist and elbow with Allen keys

Thanks, a set of Allen keys for a ratchet would be a good addition to my tools. A shorter torque wrench for low torque jobs might be handy but I have never seen a short one? I will look at my long one to see how low it goes. I suppose a temperature sensor could be built into the main lugs?
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:18 AM   #4
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Billy Bob is spot on. One thing I would like to mention is "over tightening". This just as bad as "under tightening". It can cause mechanical failure at the connection. An accurate torque wrench is required.
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