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I Installed a new ceiling fan, but I'm still freaking out, because the fan itself used aluminum wiring! I thought aluminum wiring was banned or something, or at least fell out of use. I know different rates of heat expansion and galvanic corrosion can cause fires, so it's really freaking me out as I did actually install the fan. Fortunately it's on a switch so there isn't constant electricity going to it.

I saw the aluminum wiring before I installed it, and freaked out, but then I noticed it was Intertek ETL Listed certified, and that seemed to allay my fears in that moment, so after that I did in fact install it, which I now regret.

Was it really aluminum instead of tinned copper? Well, I didn't take any pictures, so I can't show you easily, but the wire was extremely soft and provided zero resistance as I bent it or moved it about. Also, the gauge of the wire strands was very fine. I looked at the old copper wired ceiling fan, and its copper wires were of a much thicker strand.

New Ceiling Fan: Honeywell Glen Alden Ceiling Fan, Oil Rubbed Bronze Finish, 52 Inch Model Number: 50183 Purchased From overstock.com Manufacturer URL Ceiling Fan Instruction Manual PDF Amazon URL Lowes URL

I looked up the ceiling fan on Intertek's lookup site, but found nothing, which was disconcerting to say the least. Intertek's Lookup Site

Below are a series of questions I have regarding my current installation of an aluminum wired ceiling fan.

The details of none of these sites, amazon or lowes, mention that it has aluminum wiring! Is copper assumed?

If the instructions on their web site are compared to the ones I received there are some differences:

  • The revision number on the web site is "r030514", but the one I received is a higher number "r052617".
  • Page 12 in my version has a step 20 added for turning the power back on.
  • The covers are bizarrely backwards. The front cover is in spanish, and what should be the spanish cover is actually the english cover, which is bizarre.

On the warranty page of the instructions (page 16 in pdf) it says, "This product is manufactured for: Hong Kong China Electric Appliance Manufacture Co., Ltd. . So, this company doesn't make this product themselves, and also the Honeywell trademark is just licensed from Honeywell; therefore, I guess it's possible the outsourced factory perhaps snuck some aluminum wiring in instead of copper? This is obviously only a guess though.

The instructions mention electrical tape. Is wrapping the wire nuts in electrical tape a standard thing to do when using wire nuts? The instructions mention electrical tape in the section on tools needed, but in the section on wiring it only wire nuts are mentioned.

Do ceiling fans typically come with the wire nuts needed to wire them up to your house, or do you provide your own? This fan didn't seem to come with any. Also, even if it came with the special purple wire nuts needed for copper to aluminum connections, I would still consider the use of aluminum wire a fire risk.

My house has copper wiring, and the fan it's replacing had copper wiring, so why does this new one have aluminum wiring?

Is internal aluminum electrical wiring allowed in the electrical safety standards?

Is there commonly both aluminum or copper version of both appliances?

This ceiling fan, urls above, is listed on amazon, lowes, it's manufacturer's own web site, and probably other places, but absolutely no mention of it having aluminum wiring is mentioned anywhere. Is internal aluminum electrical wiring common on current model electric appliances? Or did I get a bad one that fails to meet safety standards?

Thanks.

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    copper is very expensive, so most wiring is now made mostly of aluminum, CCA. It's a decent conductor, and for the short lengths used in a fan, I wouldn't worry about "copper losses" overheating. That said, I would bet that the leads you saw were actually steel. Swap that breaker slot with an AFCI if you're worried about fire, so you can sleep well.
    – dandavis
    Jul 3, 2021 at 7:42
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    I don't get it, why shop on overstock.com if not to pinch pennies? Why suddenly care about quality now? Jul 3, 2021 at 12:05
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    To the comment above, "... wiring is now made mostly of aluminum..." You see that in cheap booster cables all the time, but I'd like to see evidence that it's in thin gauge household wiring. I'd bet a benjamin that the wire in question is just tinned copper. (And aside to the OP -- I don't mean to be insulting, but maybe getting a pro to install stuff would put your mind at ease about some of these questions.) Jul 3, 2021 at 13:56

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First of all, Aluminum wiring is not unsafe in and of itself. When properly installed it's just as safe as any other kind of wiring. Its poor reputation comes from improperly connecting it to switches, outlets, and panels and from making incorrect Cu/Al junctions.

As far as your new ceiling fan, if it had Al wiring it would be clearly noted on the product's labelling so that the installer would know to use the correct products (i.e. not the usual wire nuts) to connect it to your house wiring.

So while it's possible that the wiring was Al, if it was stranded wire that appeared to be silver, it was likely tinned Copper not Aluminum.

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  • Thanks for the answer. This is still freaking me out. I'm thinking I'll take it apart, and check if the wires are aluminum or not. If I simply cut and restrip them, and newly exposed wire is silver in color instead of copper in color, then would that mean it's aluminum? Thanks.
    – deeelwy
    Jul 4, 2021 at 7:39
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    No, tinned copper wire is usually tinned all the way through. If, however, you are actually "freaked out" you can always treat the connections as Al/Cu and use appropriate connection procedures and products. There are Al/Cu rated wire nuts that are available just about anywhere electrical supplies are sold. If you use them on Cu/Cu connections there is no harm.
    – jwh20
    Jul 4, 2021 at 12:07
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    Taking this fan apart to (try to) determine whether the wiring is actually aluminum would be wasting your time and risking damage to the fan. Based on my experience the wiring is certainly tinned copper. I have not come across any aluminum wiring smaller than solid 12 AWG. The stranded wires in fans is always copper. The purple wire nuts that are rated for connecting aluminum to copper are huge so take up a lot of room. They would not work well connecting #14 house wiring to the smaller stranded wiring in a fan. Jul 5, 2021 at 5:40
  • Wiring expert Jesse Aronstein (PhD) has reported that these purple wire nuts fail over time to maintain a low resistance connection. He maintains that the poor field performance of these purple wire nuts over time as installed argues against their contiued use and in favor of alternative connectors. Jul 5, 2021 at 12:25
  • Where is anyone recommending "purple" wire nuts?
    – jwh20
    Jul 5, 2021 at 12:26
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They probably used tinned copper to improve the solderability of the factory motor connections. I won't even consider that it may be aluminum.

If you want to know the strand count, insulation type, and conductor composition you could take the fan down, look for the Appliance Wire Material Number "AWM####" printed on the wire. The tinned wire is likely 1015 or 1230. You can search the AWM number and should be able to find the wire style.

For irrelevant reference the issue with Aluminum wire in the 1960's and 70's was they used an alloy well suited for high voltage transmission (AA-1350 I think), but it was subject to serious oxidation problems when connected to terminal screws made of steel. Much the same or similar alloy is still used in transmission. Modern branch circuit and feeder wires are made from a different alloy (AA-8000?), that is less sensitive to expansion and contraction, is more tolerant to mixed alloys, and most significant devices Listed for aluminum wire are made from material not sensitive to oxidation.

Edit: Whether fixtures come with connectors is kinda random, and many electricians think the included connectors are poor quality and the electrician is used to the feel of a specific brand so they toss the factory nuts. No tape is not standard, it actually can be kind of a flag warning that the installer may not be experienced using twist on connectors.

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Aluminium wiring in appliances is not a problem, as long as it is correct gauge (and manufacturer will assure it is).

The main issues with aluminium wiring in houses are:

  • less current per cross section compared to copper
  • gets brittle after couple decades
  • interacts badly with copper due to electronegativity difference

The first point is taken care of by manufacturer by sizing the wires correctly.
The second point is irrelevant, as you are guaranteed the fan itself will get junked before wire ages that much (it is only issue in wall wires which do not get replaced over house lifetime)
Third point can be amended by using brass screw nuts for connecting wires (and the fan probably contained one already)

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