Pigtailing aluminum wiring requires splicing a short piece of copper wire to aluminum wire and connecting the copper wire to an electrical equipment that is compatible with copper connections. The right connectors (authorized for copper to aluminum connections) and antioxidant chemicals must be used. Read all instructions carefully before starting work.
Copper wiring can be connected to aluminum wiring by using cable assemblies, which are available in different configurations. The most common type consists of two parts: a center conductor made of copper and a surrounding insulation jacket or sheath made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Other types include metal-clad cables, which are used where signal transmission is critical because there is less chance for noise to interfere with signals; and solid core cables, which are used for general purpose applications where aluminized shielding is not required.
Cable assemblies should be used whenever it is necessary to make multiple joint connections between pieces of aluminum wiring. For example, if one end of an extension cord is plugged into a power source while the other end is plugged into a lamp that needs electricity, each time the lamp is turned on current will flow through both the extension cord and the first section of aluminum wiring to the lamp. If this loop is repeated many times, the aluminum wiring inside the house will become hot enough to burn skin. Cable assemblies prevent electricity from flowing through the extension cord into the aluminum wiring.
The aluminum wiring pigtail option is the most commonly used technique of resolving aluminum wiring issues. Copper pigtailing, which is recognized by the Electrical Safety Authority, is still the most often used method for making aluminum wire safe. Is an aluminum wire pigtail code compliant? That is exactly what is necessary. Otherwise, you could be subject to a penalty fee if you need to re-route or replace any of the wiring later on.
Here's how to pigtail aluminum wires: First, strip about 1/4 inch off each end of the conductor. Next, fold the bare copper ends over each other and press them together to create a flat surface. Finally, solder the folded ends together leaving enough space for moisture to escape. When finished, the joint should look like a little piece of tape with nothing sticking out of it. Make sure to use heat-shrink tubing or electrical tape to cover the exposed ends of the aluminum wire when done.
Aluminum wiring can be difficult to work with because it is so flexible. However, by using this technique, you can ensure that your wiring is protected while still allowing it to be moved as needed.
We show how to link aluminum to copper pigtails using the COPALUM connector or the AlumiConn (tm) connector, as well as how to connect aluminum to aluminum wires and aluminum ground wires. The AlumiConn is a registered trademark of Cooper Power Systems, Inc.
Aluminum cable can be connected to other aluminum cable, to copper core cable, or to aluminum core cable. We will discuss what type of connectors are used with each type of connection. But first, some general guidelines:
The most common types of wiring used in buildings are aluminum and copper. Both are popular because they're very flexible and durable, but they have different properties that make them suitable for certain applications.
Aluminum has the advantage of being lighter than copper, so it's better for small diameter cables. It's also easier to work with when making connections, since its thickness makes it easy to strip off your coverings without damaging the metal itself. However, aluminum is a passive material that doesn't conduct electricity very well; it can only be used as a medium for another conductor to pass through. This means that it can't be used by itself to carry current from one place to another.
Copper is more resistant to heat and electrical stress than aluminum, which is why it's usually preferred for long distance wiring.