Circuit Breakers for Aluminum Wiring
Circuit breakers for aluminum wiring, have markings according to what types and sizes the terminals are compatible with. They should be aluminum wiring compatible if the house got built with aluminum wire. But it’s always helpful to examine. You may want to remove the breakers to view the markings on them. At the risk of declaring the obvious, your neutral bar and your lugs are aluminum made. Aluminum wires connected to them are going to work like butter on bread. If anything, placing copper wires on those should make you hesitate to think.
The opposite, aluminum wire on copper termination doesn’t work so well. It was the source of all the trouble in the 80s. Aluminum is the most suitable conductor on earth in nearly every unit of measure. The dilemma is, SI units decided to concentrate on the volume occupied as the conventional unit for conductivity. Aluminum’s very light weight carries a negative in that particular scale of measurement.
Honestly, though, they’re aluminum for a purpose. When they change size due to thermal expansion differences, the aluminum is extra resilient and will flex without deforming the copper. That’s why AL rated connectors get made from aluminum. Your screw-down torques getting set accurately is also a determinant. Since 2017 you are expected to use a fitting torque wrench when setting torques.
Arc Fault Breakers for Aluminum Wiring
Arc fault breakers for aluminum wiring would provide an added element of safety. The most notable problem with aluminum wiring is that the connections can come loose and arc. An arc fault breaker doesn’t care what type of wiring is in the home. Will it trip more often? The answer depends on the state of the aluminum. If the wiring got terminated correctly and in good condition, it shouldn’t have any more issues than any other house. Given the age of homes with aluminum wiring, you are more likely to see them trip than you would in a new house. It would be due to the condition of the wiring, and not an issue of the breaker itself.
Arc fault protection serves a purpose. At the very least, it is a code requirement for new residential wiring installs. There is an additional call for use when dealing with wiring types and systems known to be of higher risk for failure and potential fire hazard. If you install them on existing wiring and they trip, it is an indication something in your wiring is not what it should be. Proper copper pigtailing or approved devices is not always enough. Added arc fault protection for your aluminum wiring would only increase safety in your home.
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