Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>Is using aluminum for the service okay?
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capedog
Is using aluminum for the service okay?

A builder who I'm considering for building a new house asked if it was okay to use aluminum for the electrical service (for cost reasons)... i'm not an electrician and wanted to get some feedback from others who are more knowledgeable.... is alum okay? what are my other choices (i'm assuming copper is the other option)... is one better than the other? ... that much cheaper?

thanks for your help.

keith3267
Re: Is using aluminum for the service okay?

Not too long ago, copper skyrocketed in cost. It has come down some, but it is still quite expensive. The good aluminum alloy for electrical use has also gone up in price so I would be concerned that your builder might use "dead soft" aluminum.

Aluminum wiring requires special terminals to prevent the tendency of aluminum wiring to start fires. Aluminum also corrodes faster than copper.

I would allow aluminum cable from the transformer to the meter, but from there on, I would recommend copper only. This could add thousands of $$ to the builders costs, but I think that in the long run, its worth it.

Make sure the transformer to meter cable is large enough or will experience dimming of you lights every time a high load appliance kicks on. Your utility company should have a vested interest in making sure this cable is adequate because if its not, it will drive up the transformers load losses, which are on their side of the meter, not yours.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Is using aluminum for the service okay?

Aluminum service cable is permitted in most jurisdictions. It is necessary though that the proper terminals (rated for aluminum) and anti oxidation paste be used. It is also a good idea to have the connection checked and tightened periodically. I have aluminum service cables in my home and they where installed about 15 years ago.
Jack

Ernie_Fergler
Re: Is using aluminum for the service okay?
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

Aluminum service cable is permitted in most jurisdictions. It is necessary though that the proper terminals (rated for aluminum) and anti oxidation paste be used. It is also a good idea to have the connection checked and tightened periodically. I have aluminum service cables in my home and they where installed about 15 years ago.
Jack

I agree. Most if not all residential work is done using SE cable in these parts. {And a generous dabs of Ox-Guard}.:D

djohns
Re: Is using aluminum for the service okay?

Brother , I could tell you about copper theft . We have had an epidemic of copper theft in our high voltage substations . EVERYTHING is grounded with 4/0 bare copper . We had one substation literally stripped of all grounds including the Xo bushing lead of an energized power transformer . Gutsy or stupid ? Down in the New Orleans area , one thief found out the hard way about removing grounds on energized equipt . They found his body with the bolt cutters nearby .

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