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Thread: Aluminum Wire

  1. #16
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    When the apprentice 'electrician' pushes the outlet into the box with his foot with # 14 aluminum wire, I would say all bets are off on a proper installation, unless you hire an armed guard for your workers.

    I cannot imagine comparing the phyics of 4/0 to 12 or 14 guage aluminum. Bend a small aluminum wire 3 times and you have 3 pieces.

    You need a vice to bend 4/0

    Then you have years of possible maintenance when a a real moron comes along and finishes off your house. Oh well, we have arc fault breakers now....

    And there are as many grades of aluminum as plastic.

    Pulled a roll of 2/0 aluminum like pulling soft rope. Another spool was like pulling rebar.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 09-05-2011 at 01:02 PM.

  2. #17
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; I can go into the supply house in the morning and buy #12 aluminum wire and go install this wire in a home and it pass inspection

    1. You mean your supply house still stocks #12 aluminum wire?
    2. How old is their stock since I did not think small aluminim wire has been made since the 70s, at least I have not seen any ANYWHERE.
    3. Our inspectors would reject an installation IMMEDIATELY if they saw "small" aluminum wires.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #18
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    #14 AWG aluminum??????????

    Where are you finding this stuff???????????????

    The smallest I have ever been able to find is #12 and it is only good for 15 amps and #10 good for 20 amps.

    By the way, all aluminum conductors are grade AA8800 no matter the size and the makeup is the same for 4/0 that is used for #12 so the expansion of the material during use would be the same per area.

    I have been bending 4/0 in the field for years now with my bare hands, why do you need a vise?

  4. #19
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    To answer the question no my supply house does not stock #12 aluminum but I can special order. MC and AC comes with an aluminum equipment grounding conductor in stock now.

    A real quick search ithout spending much time came up with this
    http://www.southwire.com/products/SI...Conductors.htm
    Last edited by jwelectric; 09-05-2011 at 05:05 PM.

  5. #20
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Our inspectors would reject an installation IMMEDIATELY if they saw "small" aluminum wires.
    Why? What code section would they quote?

    Look at the wiring tables of 310 and you will see aluminum as small as #12 still listed there. Do the inspectors make up their own rules in Arizona?

  6. #21
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    When the apprentice 'electrician' pushes the outlet into the box with his foot with # 14 aluminum wire,....
    What kind of hack fools are you hiring??

    You do have some preconceived notions, don't you?

  7. #22
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; Southwire SIMpull THHN® cable with AlumaFlex® conductors are primarily used in conduit and cable trays for services, feeders, and branch circuits in commercial or industrial applications as specified in the 2008 National Electrical Code.

    That specification, "commercial or industrial applications", pretty much precludes a residential application. When I built my first home in this area, 40 years ago, the inspector initially had a problem with the aluminum conductors to the air conditioning. (I had done the rest of the house in conduit and copper wires. I reiterate, DOES your supply house STOCK "small gauge" aluminum wires?
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  8. #23
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    I reiterate, DOES your supply house STOCK "small gauge" aluminum wires?
    No but I can order the conductors to as small as #12

    Type MC and AC cables come with an aluminum equipment grounding conductor as part of the cable assembly in any roll or spool you order today.

    Once again using the NEC can you show me where it would be illegal to install aluminum conductors today?
    Is this something special to your area or is it something the inspector prefers? If it is the latter then the inspector is way off base and could end him up in a courtroom.

  9. #24
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I stand corrected.

    I can buy from stock #8 SE-U or SE-R but it would take at least six weeks to receive any type of NM-B aluminum cable and at a great expense.

    This does not mean that the installation of #12 would be a violation of the NEC.

  10. #25
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Installation of #12 aluminum would be a violation of common sense, and safety, installed carefully or by foot.

    And I find large differences in the flexibility of large aluminum wire, so the mills are not telling the truth about the allloys if you say they all use the same metal.

  11. #26
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    Installation of #12 aluminum would be a violation of common sense, and safety, installed carefully or by foot.
    Please explain this comment and if you don’t mind back it up with something other than speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    And I find large differences in the flexibility of large aluminum wire, so the mills are not telling the truth about the allloys if you say they all use the same metal.
    I have been working with aluminum conductors for many years and have never run into this situation before. I wouldn’t be afraid to say that I have installed more aluminum conductors than you have ever saw.

    What is manufacturer with all this differences in conductors?
    Which supply house are you buying all these conductors from?
    Is it possible that these conductors of the same size are from different time periods where one is the 3300 and the other is the newer 8800?
    This happens from time to time when someone tries to install used equipment.

    Never use a piece of electrical equipment over again unless it has been refurbished.

  12. #27
    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    Aluminum wire was used in the 60's-70's as there was supposedly a shortage of copper. The stuff was junk. Working with it was tedious at best as the wire could not be bent much or it would break. And that is the reason aluminum wire has such a bad reputation and deservedly so......I worked as an electrician back then and had to work with this stuff and can tell you it was terrible.

    The service entrance cables are often aluminum today and I see no problem with it. But I'd have nothing to do with a house wired with aluminum cable for individual circuits and it was from that era.........

  13. #28
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich B View Post
    Aluminum wire was used in the 60's-70's as there was supposedly a shortage of copper. The stuff was junk. Working with it was tedious at best as the wire could not be bent much or it would break. And that is the reason aluminum wire has such a bad reputation and deservedly so......I worked as an electrician back then and had to work with this stuff and can tell you it was terrible.

    The service entrance cables are often aluminum today and I see no problem with it. But I'd have nothing to do with a house wired with aluminum cable for individual circuits and it was from that era.........
    Thank you Rich. That is the answer to my to my original post. Some how this thing turned into a debate on aluminum wire which it was never meant to be. But it has been interesting reading. Maybe a new thread should be opened on the good and bad of aluminum wire.

    Thanks to all that have responded

    John

  14. #29
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ballvalve

    Installation of #12 aluminum would be a violation of common sense, and safety, installed carefully or by foot.

    I think the previous guys did that. But as an example [again , I think] What do you reach for when you want to wrap or tie something up in the shop? Aluminum wire? Good for two wraps and its in pieces.

    Have copper holding electrical cords, and they can last for 20 years of wraps and abuse. Aluminum is for big cables, beer cans and covering turkeys.

    Just my opinion, but I would rather use a harbor freight multi meter than wire my house in aluminum 12 gauge wire. It IS useful if hammered on one end for making great toothpicks, however.

    For such a stickler for safety as you, Its surprising you defend small household al wire. And I dont have a spectograph handy, but I assure you that I find various rigidity in AL wire. Could well be that a [few thousand?] containers from China that never got opened, and the wire was made from old linoleum edging.

    The most interesting wire I have is from 1880's or so - picked it up in the desert along a missing narrow gauge railway. Its copper coated half hard steel, and nothing like it seems to be made anymore. Probably telegraph wire.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 09-07-2011 at 11:26 AM.

  15. #30
    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o1 View Post
    Thank you Rich. That is the answer to my to my original post. Some how this thing turned into a debate on aluminum wire which it was never meant to be. But it has been interesting reading. Maybe a new thread should be opened on the good and bad of aluminum wire.

    Thanks to all that have responded

    John

    Your welcome and almost every post turns into a rediculous string of posts from two sides with differing opinions or experiences or other issues....

    I worked as an electrician for a local guy right out of high school, 1966-1968.......I learned from the owner and the guys I worked with. Sure the codes are way more strict today but we did work as we were directed. I built meter panels for some apartment buildings.....I ran all the individual apartment feeds for those buildings ....and a lot of the wire I had to use was aluminum......It was terrible to work with. All my panel work was inspected and passed. We wired apartments, houses and did alterations and all kinds of work.......Todays aluminum wire may be a lot better, I sure hope so.....

    No I did not stay as an electrician and no I don't have 40 years of experience as one but I do recall working with what I would consider to be poor quality aluminum wire back in those days......and yes I am from the Northeast...New Jersey to be exact.....and I also have heard about aluminum wire causing issues and can easily see why.......

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