My home is 1970s construction with aluminum wiring. I have recently upgraded several fixtures in my bathroom and basement. These fixtures have all been internally wired with stranded aluminum wiring. The directions for these fixtures make no mention of special care needed for joining aluminum to copper. About half of the fixtures have shipped with some sort of crimp connector to join to the house wiring, the remainder have shipped with bog standard wire nuts. These fixtures are all LED lights. I expect them to be fairly low draw.

I am well aware of the risks of AL wiring when adding fixtures and outlets. CO/ALR receptacles triple the cost of simple work in my home. I am well aware of the risks and needs of joining aluminum wiring to fixtures made for copper.

Do I need to take any special precautions when wiring aluminum to aluminum for these new fixtures?

Do AL to AL connections pose any risks distinct from AL to CU connections?

  • 2
    Are you sure the fixtures have aluminum wiring, and not (tin-)coated copper, for instance? – mmathis Sep 18 '17 at 18:04
  • @mmathis - Good question. I don't think it is tinned as I had to re-cut and strip at least one of them. I wouldn't expect tinned connections to go under the insulation. I was gentle so I don't think I would have scraped of any plating. – Freiheit Sep 18 '17 at 18:12
  • 1
    Often individual strands of copper are pre-tinned even before being bundled together into the wire. I'd suggest you cut one cleanly and look at it under some magnification or try to gently scrape the surface of a strand and I'm almost certain you'll see the copper in the middle. – brhans Sep 18 '17 at 20:07
  • 1
    Or hold a lighter under one of them and see what happens, copper will be unaffected while aluminum will shrivel. – ratchet freak Sep 19 '17 at 11:10

I guarantee it's not aluminum wire on the fixtures. I see fixtures with multistrand tinned wire all the time.

Install AFCI breakers in your panel. These detect arcing from bad connections, which is the crux of the problem with aluminum. Killing yourself to replace every Al-Cu splice in the house doesn't make much sense when you can just detect the root problem.

Then you can use any listed method, such as the generally-regarded-as-poor purple wirenuts, or the excellent Alumiconns.

  • I have not been able to verify the tinned wires, just not enough time to pull a fixture down and poke it, however this makes more sense than AL wires in the fixture. This answer also includes information I already knew about AL wiring in general which would be helpful to another victim of 1970s era electrical systems. – Freiheit Sep 21 '17 at 0:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.