Where Is Aluminum Wiring Used in Construction Today?

February 9, 2024

In construction, it's vital to know the best options for electrical wiring. With the right understanding, education and training, building professionals can create reliable and safe electrical systems for their projects.

In addition to offering cost and weight advantages, aluminum wiring also provides better heat dissipation than copper wire. This feature makes it a common choice for power grids and other load-bearing applications.

However, despite its many positive attributes, there are several issues that must be considered when using aluminum wiring in construction projects. These include oxidation, corrosion, and compatibility with other materials and components. It's important for contractors to consider these challenges and ensure their work is up to code by following proper installation techniques and using materials designed for use with aluminum wiring.

Pre-1972 Homes

Prior to 1972, a dual metal electrical conductor known as copper-clad aluminum (CCA) was used in branch circuit wiring throughout the homes of millions of Americans. This type of wiring was more prone to failure than copper due to mechanical properties, especially in connections at switches, fixtures and receptacle outlets. When these wires corrode or oxidize, they can cause fire hazards that put lives and property at risk.

Insurers may refuse coverage or require a home to be rewired if it has aluminum wiring. But rather than replacing all the receptacles and switches in a home with aluminum wiring, a safer solution is to "pigtail" new copper wire into the existing aluminum. This is done by connecting six-inch sections of copper cable to the old aluminum receptacles and switches, using UL-approved AlumiConn connectors. This option is a much less expensive alternative to rewiring the entire home and still meets insurer requirements.

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