I know copper wire has many advantages over AL wire but I have a question or
First off why is almost all the 'big' wire AL? When I started service here
I was required to buy AL wire to connect the meter to the breaker box on the
pole and to connect that box to the breaker box in the trailer.
Also can you even buy 'small' AL wire, e.g. 10 ga? If so is it that much
cheaper than Cu?
Would anyone here use AL wire for anything?
Cost -- compare the price for large diameter Cu vis a vis Al and you'll
see they "why"...
It would be unusual to require Al, most will accept either as most
terminations these days are Cu/Al compatible. If the service gear was
rated for Al only, then it would make sense.
Another reason for Al is that it bends more easily so for larger sizes
it is easier to handle.
Al for service entrance, feeders, etc., sure...
I would expect a very high fraction or more of those "here" have Al in
their own residences in at least those applications.
I assume somebody must still make it, but out of curiousity I did a
little looking -- lots of feeder and various other larger cable, but I
couldn't find a single reference to 10/x or smaller Al. Smallest I
found was #8.
I'm thinking w/ the Al-wiring scare there simply has been so little
demand for ordinary circuit Al wiring it has become almost, if not, a
thing of the past.
I'm not sure for the smaller gauges the cost differential would be that
great, but maybe, but couldn't find any to try to do a comparison on...
Hmm. Thought I'd seen #10 not too long ago. But then, "not too long ago" is a
longer time period than it used to be, too. :-(
I imagine the biggest factor is this:
"Conductors normally used to carry current shall be of copper unless otherwise
provided in this Code." [2005 NEC, Article 110.5]
Exceptions include services and feeders, but not (as far as I can tell) branch
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
I started to say I thought the Code _might_ have removed AL from branch
circuit use, but wasn't sure enough to say so (and didn't feel like
digging through to find out for sure).
That pp would certainly put a crimp in the market, wouldn't it? :)
So, at least for all practical purposes, the answer to the question of
is AL in smaller sizes (for electrical wiring purposes) available is "No"...
|> Speaking of useless answers. I went to some trade show years ago. I|> got a tote bag that might have said Copper is Proper. I cannot find|> the tote bag to see if that was the logo. Two points were made in the|> handout and it was geared towards commercial electricians. Well maybe|> one point. Copper flows electricity better than aluminum. 12 guage can|> be less expensive over the life of a building versus 14 guage due to|> lower power losses with the bigger wire. Equipment can run better with|> lower voltage drops.
|I know copper wire has many advantages over AL wire but I have a question or
|First off why is almost all the 'big' wire AL? When I started service here
|I was required to buy AL wire to connect the meter to the breaker box on the
|pole and to connect that box to the breaker box in the trailer.
|Also can you even buy 'small' AL wire, e.g. 10 ga? If so is it that much
|cheaper than Cu?
|Would anyone here use AL wire for anything?
Cost and weight.
As I stated earlier, the resistivity of Al v. Cu is about 1.5 to 1.7
depending on the alloy. Expressed another way, increasing the Al wire
by approximately two gauge equalizes the losses. (Cu 12 AWG ~ Al 10
For residential wiring, the downsides of Al are corrosion, creep and
dissimilar metals issues when connected to copper. The lower wire
cost is eaten up by the specialized connections required to use it.
For overhead long distance transmission lines the cost and weight
advantages of Al are a big deal.
I'll take that one step further. If a guy has to ask the difference
between 10/2, 10/3. 12/2 etc... WTF is he doing wiring his shop?
For chrissakes, call somebody who knows and who has the certification
And GET A FARKING PERMIT!!
(Yes, yes, I know, I know... there are many here who have the
knowledge and confidence to do that kind of work themselves, but when
questions indicate a complete and total ignorance of the topic at
You have always heard there are no stupid questions. Maybe the
questions were asked for reference. To see what others had done when
there shop was wired. I think it was a legitimate question asking the
difference between the wires. If he is to have someone wire the shop
are all electricians going to wire with 12/2 on 220 and 10/2 on 110?
Knowledge is a good thing and being able to tell the electrician what
you want can only make the shop that much better.
One who lacks knowledge on a topic is far better served by telling the
electrician what functionality he wants and leaving the how-to's to the
person most knowledgeable - the electrician. BTW, no - all electricians are
not going to wire with 12/2 on 220 and 10/2 on 110. Just the opposite. And
yes - for the most part, all electricians are going to wire the same way -
based on the requirements of the circuit.
I won't argue against the point of specifying the desired
functionality to the electrician - that's just good sense. But I do
take a mild exception to the "better served" part. It's been said that
a "little knowledge is dangerous", but I firmly believe that ignorance
is even more dangerous.
Before anybody gets incensed, "ignorance" is the opposite of
"knowledge", not the opposite of "intelligence" and is not an insult.
None of us know all there is to know, so we are all ignorant of more
things than we have knowledge of.
I applaud the OP's question. Any attempt by a person to convert a
little ignorance into a little knowledge is a laudable pursuit.
Oh, I applaud anyone's interest in gaining new knowledge. That however, is
not the point of Robert's and other comments about seeking qualified help on
some things when one's level of knowledge is so low. And my follow on
comment in response to you was simply that one would be foolish to expect
that a couple of posts in a woodworking usenet newsgroup is make one capable
of directing an electrician in how to perform a task. That would be a
dangerous amount of knowledge.
Then I would say you've advanced to the 2nd level of knowledge on that
1. Don't know that you don't know.
2. Know that you don't know.
3. Know that you know.
4. Don't know that you know.
Tom Veatch wrote:
| Then I would say you've advanced to the 2nd level of knowledge on
| that particular topic.
| 1. Don't know that you don't know.
| 2. Know that you don't know.
| 3. Know that you know.
| 4. Don't know that you know.
This sounds remarkably like a former Secretary of Defense's
semi-coherent ramblings on Middle East intelligence...
DeSoto, Iowa USA
A couple of more points. 1) The more you now about things the easier it is
to calculate your building cost.
2) If you have people bid on a project it helps to know just what they are
planning on using. If Joe's Power bid is lower than Bill's Power its nice
to know that one reason is Joe's is planning on using smaller wire.
Personally, when it comes to wiring bigger IS better. Even more so when it
comes to a workshop. I'm looking at building a new home in a few years and
if I can afford it I will 'over wire' the entire house for a couple of
reasons. First, look around your house now and think about how it looked 10
years ago. How many more electrical items do you have now? How many more
might we have in 10 more years?
Second, its much more difficult to have an electrical fire if you wire a 20
amp breaker with wire that will carry 40 amps or so.
Third, if you need to 'upsize' later its a lot easier to just put in a
larger breaker than putting in new or more wire.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.