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Old 04-17-2009, 09:48 AM   #1
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


I have a couple of old aluminum runs in my house. I'm getting ready to add a light in my attic over the garage (1967 house, no light was ever installed) and the garage is wired aluminum.

I'm going to be running the line from a current light fixture that is wired aluminum with a copper line. I did some research and found AL/CU wire connectors (http://www.idealindustries.com/produ...ster_al-cu.jsp) and was wondering if anyone had any experience with them. They are expensive as hell, I can tell you that .. $23 for a bag of 10

I also plan on using a special compound on the wires to help reduce oxidization (can't remember the name of it)

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Old 04-17-2009, 10:15 AM   #2
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


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Originally Posted by Oswald View Post
They are expensive as hell, I can tell you that .. $23 for a bag of 10

I also plan on using a special compound on the wires to help reduce oxidization (can't remember the name of it)
$23 to avoid the possibility of burning down your garage (and house if it is attached)? Jesus, it sounds like cheap insurance to me. And if it was me, I'd actually connect some copper pigtails with Copalum splices (wanna talk expensive?). No wait...if it was my house, I'd remove the aluminum altogether. But alas, that is just old, anal meself talking.

Don't bother with the compound if you use these connectors. They are preloaded with it.

Jim

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Old 04-17-2009, 06:52 PM   #3
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Oswald, I live in Canada and use MARR connectors rated co/alr a box is about 7.00 Our codes may be different and I use gel on every connection.
My understanding is the IDEAL units are a gel connector so it's not a bad price.
I have also experienced an improper receptacle overheating due to Aluminium and have since reviewed and inspected the entire house replacing all original connectors and using paste as well.
$23 is GOOD Value compared to firetrucks in the street and a safety inspection.....Been There... saved the receptacle
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Old 04-17-2009, 07:31 PM   #4
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


It's a scam.

The "listed" wire nuts will not prevent problems with AL wiring.

The fact is that they are made out of the same materials as regular wire nuts and have a dab of antioxident in them.

It is an insurance issue but not in the way you are presenting it. They will not gaurantee that the wiring won't burn but the 4 bucks a pop go into paying for liability insurance for the companys that make the connectors.

Generally, the problems with AL splices come from connections that are not tight enough. Sometimes the wiring will burn even with a tight connection.

Below is a pic of of a good tight splice AL/copper splice that failed. I broke off the wirenut and peeled back the spring to get a close look at where the problem was originating. The insulation was burned badly from the wirenut to appx 4" back on the wire. They likely used an iron on this pigtailed laundry room recep.

It looks to me that the problem wasn't in the connection. What IS interesting is that the copper wire looks worse than the AL wire.




Al repairs/additions are a gamble because
1. The two approved methods will not gaurantee safety.
2. There are millions of splices/pigtails that function perfectly.

Use your best judgement but the only way to be 100% safe is to eliminate the AL wiring.




Do the best you can to make a sound connection and make sure it is done in a properly closed in junction box.
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Old 04-17-2009, 07:43 PM   #5
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Better yet use alumicon connectors. Expensive ($35 USD for a 10 pack).
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Old 04-17-2009, 08:14 PM   #6
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


For small gauge stuff, you have got to get the aluminum free from that dull oxidation before applying paste and making the connection. A quick once-over with some fine sand paper before applying the noalox is the key. It's the oxidized surface that makes the poor connection, and when current flows through it in the presence of oxygen, it just gets worse. I personally won't touch the stuff.

Even on the large gauge aluminum service conductors, I take a battery terminal brush to them before I connect them.
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Old 04-17-2009, 08:45 PM   #7
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Although oxidation is a problem with Al wiring another is the rate of expansion and contraction difference between copper and aluminum. Because of this a twisted cop/al set of wires work loose from each other. The most viable solution other than replacing the al wire (which is what I would recommend) is to use Alumiconn connectors. The copper and aluminum wires do not come into direct contact with each other. These connectors can also be used to make pigtails in outlet boxes so standard receptacles can be used as C/A receptacles are not always readily available.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:09 PM   #8
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


The only 'approved' repair method, according to the CPSC can be found in this document:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...1bhsM3Y_JF0zzA


Last edited by Bigplanz; 04-17-2009 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:16 AM   #9
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Just a quick note that the Alumiconn require a torque screwdriver in order to be installed properly.
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Old 04-18-2009, 01:41 PM   #10
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


You can also use a compound called penetrox. It is generally used for aluminum connections to temp panels and such, but it serves the purpose of creating a safe connection between copper and aluminum without the chemical reactions that can happen over time.

Of course this is me trying to save you money, I would also go with big jimmy and not using aluminum all together.

Last edited by Scott3229; 04-18-2009 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 04-18-2009, 03:43 PM   #11
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigplanz View Post
The only 'approved' repair method, according to the CPSC can be found in this document:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...1bhsM3Y_JF0zzA

That document is 15 years old.
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Old 04-18-2009, 05:46 PM   #12
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


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Originally Posted by hayewe farm View Post
That document is 15 years old.
I couldn't find anything more recent. Is it wrong? Is there another approved method? Please provide a link. Thanks.
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Old 04-18-2009, 05:58 PM   #13
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott3229 View Post
You can also use a compound called penetrox. It is generally used for aluminum connections to temp panels and such, but it serves the purpose of creating a safe connection between copper and aluminum without the chemical reactions that can happen over time.

Of course this is me trying to save you money, I would also go with big jimmy and not using aluminum all together.
WRONG WRONG WRONG.

you must use an approved method (actually, it would actually be considered a "system" under UL terms, I believe) for joining aluminum and copper conductors. Merely putting penetrox is not legally or engineering approved.

Do it right or don't do it.
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Old 04-18-2009, 06:24 PM   #14
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Quote:
it serves the purpose of creating a safe connection between copper and aluminum
No true.

It may give you a warm fuzzy feeling but does nothing practical to create a safe connection.

AL NM is a crap shoot. The odds are with you. The good splices far outnumber the bad ones. I've spliced a crapload of AL to CU and will continue to do so.
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:57 PM   #15
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Connecting Aluminum to Copper


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
WRONG WRONG WRONG.

you must use an approved method (actually, it would actually be considered a "system" under UL terms, I believe) for joining aluminum and copper conductors. Merely putting penetrox is not legally or engineering approved.

Do it right or don't do it.

Im not saying its the way to do it if you read the whole comment, because by the do it right or dont do it philosophy, you would pull the aluminum out and replace it with copper, aluminum is for temp these days, i was merely saying it would be a chincy alternative money saver which i do NOT recommend, but offer as an alternative

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