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I have been advise to convert old aluminum branch wiring with AlumiConn connectors and maybe also in the breaker box, unless the circuit breaker is AL & CO compatible. How do I determine this? Can I tell just by looking at the connectors?

Image of connections behind the breaker box

  • The photo shows what seems to be the neutral bus bar, not any breakers. A separate problem is that it also has ground wires attached which is possibly incorrect. The bare ground wires should go to another bus on most panels. That said, the bare wires look to be copper in the photo - not aluminum. Maybe there is a mix of wires - or maybe you have COPPER-CLAD aluminum, which is not a problem at all like plain aluminum wires would be, AFAIK. – UuDdLrLrSs Mar 14 '17 at 10:41
  • As a main the neutral and grounds can be on the same buss – Ed Beal Apr 17 '17 at 19:03
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The breakers should be specifically marked as to what wire types and sizes the terminals are compatible with; they also should be aluminum wiring compatible if the house is wired with aluminum wire. But it's always good to check.

You may need to remove the breakers to read the markings on them.

You should be aware (before you buy) that Tyco "COPALUM" is the other approved repair/remediation method. The CPSC website seems to be out of order today - when it comes back up, look for "Publication 516" from them.

http://www.te.com/catalog/cinf/en/c/10914/968

http://www.alcopstore.com/cpsc-approves-alumiconn/

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At the risk of stating the obvious, your neutral bus and your lugs are made of aluminum. Aluminum wires into them is going to work like chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake. If anything, putting copper wires on those should make you pause to think.

Seriously though, they're aluminum for a reason. When they change dimension due to thermal expansion differences, the aluminum is more resilient and will flex without distorting the copper. This depends on your screw-down torques being set correctly, which is why NEC 2017 now requires you to use a proper torque wrench when setting torques.

And that's why Alumiconns are also made of aluminum.

The reverse (Al wire on Cu termination) doesn't work so well, which was the source of all the trouble in the 80s.

Actually, aluminum is the best (practical) conductor on earth in almost every unit of measure. The problem is, SI units chose to focus on volume occupied as the standard unit for conductivity, and aluminum's very light weight gives it a disadvantage in that particular scale of measurement.

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  • I partily agree however aluminum wire breaks off much more easily than copper and because of other problems with corrosion I will only use aluminum for feeders that can be inspected easily and not run close to there rated capacity as I have seen more problems with aluminum than copper. – Ed Beal Apr 17 '17 at 19:13
  • @EdBeal yes, the problem with Al in branch circuit wiring is everything would need to be changed to accommodate it. That's not gonna happen due to the incidents in the 80s. I agree it makes sense in places likely to be reasonably well inspected. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 18 '17 at 17:20

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