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QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Aluminum Vs. Copper Wiring

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Facility Management, Question Of The Week, Safety, Technology

Tagged: , , ,

Published on April 11, 2011 with 1 Comment

Q. I have a question about aluminum vs. copper electrical wiring—particularly when connected to large, main electrical switch gears. I have been told that “in the old days,” large aluminum main feeders (connected to switch gears) would expand and contract over time, and their lug connections would become loose. This would create a huge problem (and fire risk) for any building. According to an electrical contractor involved in one our projects, the new aluminum conductors are designed much better and don’t have this problem anymore.

My company’s standard practice for 20 years has been to use copper conductors, but with the price of copper going through the roof, we’d save a huge amount of money by using aluminum.

My chief engineer had some problems with aluminum in an older building and wants to stick with copper. But since code allows either, I wanted to investigate all of my options. What’s your opinion?

Name withheld upon request

This question was originally published in the January 2008 issue of Today’s Facility Manager. Read Elledge’s response here. Share your feedback and suggestions in the LEAVE A REPLY section below.

About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at

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  1. Aluminum wire can be used if the ends are luged with a compression fitting. This cuts down the expansion contraction problems some. As long as Regular maintance is preformed as recomended by your electic co. or at least every three years to retork the lugs. other wise copper is the only an the best answer.

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