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dbmoses 12-20-2009 04:49 PM

Silver Wiring - what is it?
I have been replacing a few light fixtures (flush mount fixtures and pendant style) and noticed that most of them have silver wires in the fixture. I cannot find any labeling that says what the wire is made of. The fixtures are brand new. The wiring is made of stranded small silver wires. Is it alumumin? Do I need special connectors to connect it to my copper house wiring?

My concern is that everything I read says that aluminum wiring is unsafe to connect to copper.

This brings a similar question about wire nuts. I noticed some of them are silver on the inside, while others are copper. Are the silver ones for a special purpose? I have seen the same colored nuts (yellow), some with silver and others with copper inside.


joed 12-20-2009 05:20 PM

If the fixtures are new is most likely copper wire that is tinned, coated with tin to prevent corrosion.

AllanJ 12-20-2009 05:23 PM

Most likely something called "tinned wire" which is (usually copper) with a thin layer of solder on it. Tinned wire is normally made for work where soldering is needed and it is easier to solder together. For the light fixture it is probably used to look better than plain copper wire. Also cords sometimes have one wire plain copper and the other tinned so you can trace which is which by the color.

TitaniumVT 12-21-2009 12:25 AM

Coincidentally, I just finished installing pendant lights today, and noticed the same silver wire. Good to know it's not aluminum - in my pendants, the cord is clear, so I think the silver wires look nicer and more neutral than copper wires would.

I was also thinking that the manufacturer may have chosen the silver wires due to cost. With copper prices sitting at year long highs, maybe the tinned wire is a cheaper alternative?

kbsparky 12-21-2009 04:21 AM

Not likely any cheaper. They start out with copper wire, and then add the tinning to minimize corrosion. An additional step in the manufacturing process.

Just Bill 12-21-2009 05:55 AM

Tinned wires were often is a gray fabric wrap, and would have been in a house built in the 40-50's. How old is the house?? If the age sounds right it is tinned copper, If built between '67, '75 it is aluminum, which does require special treatment when mixing wire types.

AllanJ 12-21-2009 06:44 AM

The spring inside a wire nut is usually steel, bare if silver, copper plated if gold. The better wire nuts have a spring made of square cross section wire, which bites into the wires being joined and holds better.

I have never seen aluminum wiring within a light fixture, and I hope no fixture comes this way unless that fact is prominently labeled.

dbmoses 01-10-2010 10:51 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies. I was busy over the holidays, and just read through the posts now.

The fixtures are brand new and from a major hardware store, so I'm not concerned. After reading a few sources, it appears it is (as you mentioned) tinned copper wire.

Thanks again.

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