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#213223 03/30/14 03:46 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,935
Likes: 34
Have you been to an aluminum pitch lately?
General Cable is making the rounds trying to rehabilitate aluminum again. They are still concentrating on feeder sized conductors but they do leave the door open for branch circuit sized wires sometime soon (10&12)
They blame it on device manufacturers who charge such a premium for Co/Alr

One interesting thing I heard is that if you really want to use NoAlox, you should be using it on your copper wire, not the aluminum (most lugs are aluminum) and they also say wire brushing the conductor is a waste of time.

It is an interesting show.

Greg Fretwell
gfretwell #213224 03/30/14 07:12 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,445
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
Sounds like a repeat of a presentation put on by the Southwire rep about 6 years ago.

Sure, it all sounds nice. I'm not convinced, though. Nor do I trust them- it all seems like they're setting the stage to bring back aluminum branch circuits.

Let me make my own position clear: I just want to do my job. I have to rely upon 'experts' to guide me. That's pretty hard to do when field lore conflicts with learned papers, or when one group of experts (the manufacturers) is at odds with another (the IAEI).

We've also all heard our share of whoppers over the years. The aluminum industry destroyed their credibility back in the 70's, when they made it an article of faith that every issue was the result of improper installation.

If it's that difficult to install properly, what's to keep the issues from arising again? Especially when their favorite installation defect - that anti-oxidant wasn't used- is now tossed aside. Now, they say, the goop isn't needed.

Theft? If you think thieves like copper, just wait until they discover there's aluminum out there!

gfretwell #213225 03/30/14 08:39 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,383
Likes: 7
Only used Alon rare occasions. If it was re-introduced for branch circuits, and I was still wearing tools, I would not use it.

gfretwell #213226 03/30/14 10:39 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,935
Likes: 34
I really have mixed emotions on this. It is clear the utilities are aluminum virtually 100% and they seem to be making it work.
I also lived with an aluminum house, my ex still has.
43 years later, she has had zero problems.

OTOH there are plenty of documented failures with binding screw terminal devices and aluminum wire so there is something going on there.

I do tend to agree, aluminum in an aluminum lug, should be fine.

Greg Fretwell
gfretwell #213227 03/31/14 12:37 AM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
Stranded aluminum seems to be pretty reliable except on overhead services where it's exposed to wind and rain. It weighs less and is easier to bend into the lug so the installation is easier. I wouldn't use it to save a couple hundred dollars but for a couple thousand it is on my favourite list.

Solid aluminum has a well known track record. I already learned that lesson.

I read the specs on an aluminum lug a few years ago and it was tinned so it could be used with copper. Are they all tinned?

gfretwell #213228 03/31/14 02:35 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,935
Likes: 34
Yes they are tin plated to avoid galvanic corrosion with copper. That was why he says you are better off using the anti oxidant on copper wire.
As long as the plating is solid, no problem but if you scratch up the lug installing the conductor, you might actually get more corrosion with the copper.

Greg Fretwell
gfretwell #213229 03/31/14 09:15 AM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 265
In my area we can win or lose a bid for as little as 50 dollars. That being said most of the new services I put in are aluminum, if aluminum branch conductors were to be available again there is no way I would install them! No amount of data from so called experts can cover experience in the field. We have all seen some prety hacked up copper installs that are still working fine, we still have miles of knob and tube in use around here, so copper is prety easy to install and make it work. Aluminum on the other hand, have to use anti-oxidant, have to use Co/Alr devices, have to use special connectors etc etc.... The choice is clear to me branch circuits will always be copper!


Life is tough, Life is tougher when you are stupid
gfretwell #213230 03/31/14 09:55 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233
When I did the service on my house many years ago (over 20?), when it came time to do the service I ran AL wire because using CU wire would have costed me over $3,000 back then. Money that I didn't have. I did however install the underground service in PVC pipe. That way in case I had problems with the AL wire, I could pull it out and run new wires again.

gfretwell #213232 03/31/14 10:49 AM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 402
Maybe they should be making their pitches to the insurance companies that don't like aluminum branch circuits.

Last edited by jdevlin; 03/31/14 10:49 AM.
gfretwell #213234 03/31/14 12:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,935
Likes: 34
To be clear, the pitch is for feeders, not 15 and 20a branch circuits. They are only talking about lugs, not binding screw terminals like you have on 15 and 20a devices.

Greg Fretwell
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