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ArthurS
Watch Those Blinking Lights
Premium
join:2000-10-28
Hamilton, ON

Aluminum wiring and flourescent ballast replacement

I'm in the process of getting my parent's 35 yr old house up for sale, and discovered one of the fluorescent fixture's ballasts has gone bad (black goo leaked out). Furthermore, the line wiring is aluminum. I understand the challenges of working with aluminum wiring (don't mix copper and aluminum), but does anyone here in the know have any recommendations on the type of replacement ballast that will work with aluminum wiring? Are there some special wire nuts that need to be used? Splicing blocks?


jrs8084
Premium
join:2002-03-02
Statesville, NC
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
Where is WhizKid. . .

I don't think this is an issue that it can't be done, but rather it has to be done correctly. I have seen Al and Cu mixed quite often. (maybe none of it was kosher ) How to do it correctly-that is what Whizkid or some other knowledgeable person can tell us.
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RevMortis
I Hear Dead Silicon
Premium
join:2005-05-10
Saint Paul, MN
reply to ArthurS
Do you mean that the wiring inside the fixture is Aluminum, or that the Wiring in the Wall is Aluminium?


ArthurS
Watch Those Blinking Lights
Premium
join:2000-10-28
Hamilton, ON
reply to ArthurS
Absolutely! Nothing wrong with aluminum wiring, but how it's connected to the various devices is absolutely critical!

»www.faqs.org/faqs/electrical-wir···-16.html

Which has me thinking...the original ballast wiring is wire-nutted directly to the aluminum line wiring! I sure hope that the ballast has aluminum wiring itself (I probably should drive over to check)!


ArthurS
Watch Those Blinking Lights
Premium
join:2000-10-28
Hamilton, ON
reply to RevMortis
said by RevMortis:

Do you mean that the wiring inside the fixture is Aluminum, or that the Wiring in the Wall is Aluminium?
The line wiring going into the fluorescent fixture is aluminum. The present ballast is wire-nutted directly to this wire. I bought a new ballast from Home Depot, but its wiring is copper, it's still in the wrapper, uninstalled. Perhaps I need to go to an electrical distributor to find a ballast suitable for aluminum wiring...

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
I found a site with a little info here.


ArthurS
Watch Those Blinking Lights
Premium
join:2000-10-28
Hamilton, ON
reply to ArthurS
Great resource robbin!

Did a bit of further research, I guess there's a special type of "goo" you apply to the aluminum wire to prevent it from oxidizing, before twisting it with a copper wire in a connector. Anyone have any experience with this kind of solution?


whizkid3
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-21
Queens, NY
kudos:9
reply to ArthurS
said by ArthurS:

The line wiring going into the fluorescent fixture is aluminum. The present ballast is wire-nutted directly to this wire. I bought a new ballast from Home Depot, but its wiring is copper, it's still in the wrapper, uninstalled. Perhaps I need to go to an electrical distributor to find a ballast suitable for aluminum wiring...
After a good laugh, (because there is no such thing as ballasts made for aluminum wire), the electrical supply counter-person, would just tell you to use wire nuts made for splicing aluminum to copper wire. Ideal Industries, for example, makes a very commonly used purple-colored Ideal #65, for this situation. It has a anti-oxidation compound inside, and a special alloy spring to connect the aluminum and copper wires. It is UL listed.

However,...

Evidence is recently coming out that even these wire nuts will not stand the test of time, and will fail eventually, because of the disimilar-metal effect, and overheating. They are still code-compliant as of now; although I could not find a listing on Ideal's website.

In your case, the load of the fixture is very small, and the aluminum house wiring is much, much larger than needed to handle the load. Therefore, it is not going to heat up; and you'll have no problem. I don't think I would use them anymore, for pig-tailing to receptacles. I suggest finding some, and using them.

There are other products, such as the Tyco 'COPALUM' connector - however, they require special tools and a Tyco trained & certified licensed electrician to install them: »tooling.tycoelectronics.com/copalum_home.stm

There are also other hard-to-find connectors, some of which are not UL listed.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
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1 recommendation

reply to ArthurS
I work in an area with a lot of aluminum wire. The "wirenuts" that claim they are o.k. for cu-al connections suck. They are UL listed, but they still suck.
I use the copalum on big jobs. For small jobs I use these:
»www.alumiconn.com/

They are available at most electrical supply houses. I think HD and Lowes can order them too.
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jtheod

join:2007-04-07
Houston, TX
reply to ArthurS
I would be careful that the black tar you are speaking of does not have PCB contamination, given how old you say the house is!!!