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DannyM

@208.87.137.x

Aluminum Wiring Into a Service Panel

I've built a small barn, and currently I'm running Aluminum 2awg/2awg/2awg in conduit about 200'. Is there anything I need to know about bringing the cable into the service panel for the installation of the cable? I'm going to use a 2 pole 60A circuit breaker which is a Home Depot model, but the service panel is Cutler-Hammer. Does the panel and breaker need to be the same manufacturer? The breaker indicates it can accomodate a maximum 2awg size, but I'm concerned. Should I use an adapter or some other means to make the hookup?


KoolMoe
Aw Man
Premium
join:2001-02-14
Annapolis, MD
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
Not an electrician, but having had aluminum in a house, lookup 'pigtailing': »www.google.com/search?q=aluminum···+pigtail
I've only read on that for connections to outlets, but would imagine it applies to the breaker box too. Why Aluminum in the first place? But regardless, pigtailing seems to render it pretty safe (?!).
KM
--
Don't Lie - Be Kind - Realize your Potential

Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19

1 recommendation

said by KoolMoe:

Not an electrician, but having had aluminum in a house, lookup 'pigtailing': »www.google.com/search?q=aluminum···+pigtail
I've only read on that for connections to outlets, but would imagine it applies to the breaker box too. Why Aluminum in the first place? But regardless, pigtailing seems to render it pretty safe (?!).
KM

None of this applies to a service panel, or a feeder of the size discussed.
AL for a feeder this size is completely typical and common.

Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to DannyM
said by DannyM :

I've built a small barn, and currently I'm running Aluminum 2awg/2awg/2awg in conduit about 200'. Is there anything I need to know about bringing the cable into the service panel for the installation of the cable?

Are you using cable or conductors?
Cable would just be brought into the panel and terminated like normal.
With conduit and conductors you would need to bring the conduit right into the panel, or change over to cable using an appropriately sized junction box.
It is just recommended to use NoAlOx (anti-oxidant paste) on the terminations.

said by DannyM :

I'm going to use a 2 pole 60A circuit breaker which is a Home Depot model, but the service panel is Cutler-Hammer. Does the panel and breaker need to be the same manufacturer?

Typically yes, and even the same series. There are "classified" breakers though that fit many "1 inch breaker" panels.

said by DannyM :

The breaker indicates it can accomodate a maximum 2awg size, but I'm concerned. Should I use an adapter or some other means to make the hookup?

Nope, no adapter necessary.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to DannyM
Aluminum service cable is fine if terminated properly. Oxide inhibitor, wire brush, wipe, oxide inhibitor.

The circuit breaker must match the panel. Just because it fits, it doesn't mean it's proper.
So the breaker in the feeding panel should match the brand of the feeding panel. I'm pretty sure there is no such animal as a "home depot" panel or breaker.

If the fed panel has a main breaker (not necessary) then the breaker(s) should match the panel it resides in. If the panel is set up with a main breaker, then you need to be sure to convert it for a 4-wire.

2-2-2, nor any other three conductor cable, is sufficient for feeding a sub panel. A sub panel must be fed by 4 conductors - 2-2-2-4 in your case (a common quad arrangement). There should be 2 hots, 1 neutral, and 1 ground. The ground and neutral must be isolated in the sub panel. There must be a grounding electrode (ground rod) at the outbuilding.

If you are unsure about what any of this means, you should probably at least pay someone who knows what they are doing to come consult with you. Otherwise you could be doing something dangerous that may put your life or someone else' on the line. Loss of property would be a secondary consideration.
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to DannyM
Aluminum for service cables isn't uncommon and isn't a problem. For the thicker gauges and higher copper prices, aluminum can be the most economical choice. The problem with Al wire is that it corrodes with oxygen producing Aluminum Oxide which is no conductive, increasing resistance and can overheat. Aluminum's thermal expansion also can lead to the connection loosening over time, eventually leading to more corrosion, more resistance, and so on. This is why it's not recommended any more for general branch circuits but feeders or dedicated high current circuits (ovens, furnace, AC) it's not as much of a problem as you can minimize the effects with fewer connections.

You'll need to clean the cable and apply no-ox to the exposed metal. Breakers and connectors need to be rated for Al wire (not sure if Cu-only breakers are common or even exist...). Your breaker needs to be listed for use with your particular panel. Check the label to see what types of breakers to look for and use. You'll also need to run a separate ground from your main panel to a ground rod at the building as well as it's sub panel. The neutral and grounds must be separate at the sub panel. Depending on the type of wire you are using, I believe you could actually go with a larger breaker, or a smaller wire gauge if you wanted.

I'd really strongly suggest hiring an electrician. There are quite a few codes that you are going to need to be in compliance with, as well as get inspected (both the building and the feeder).


iknow

@optonline.net
reply to DannyM
the present recommendation is to not allow air to contact the aluminum at all. it's recommended to coat the wire with anti-oxidant paste, then clean the oxide off the wire with sandpaper while still coated with anti-oxidant paste, then put more anti-oxidant paste on. this way the wire is never exposed to the air, which causes the oxide.


DannyM

@208.87.137.x
reply to DannyM
Thank you all so much. To explain further the cable is going to a breaker box where two 30A breakers are installed. One breaker will go on to the barn about 75' with 12-2 wire. The other breaker the opposite direction with another 12-2 wire about 65' to an outdoor outlet for a heater this winter in the water trough. At the service panel, I planned to attach two of the leads to the neutral bar and the third leg to the 60A circuit breaker. Now, I'll take the unlabeled Home Depot breaker back, and contact the Cutler-Hammer distributor for the 60A breaker. You all have been most generous with your thoughts and assistance. Yes, the aluminum was chosen because of a substantial cost savings over copper. I've helped several farmers tie outbuildings for electricity, but not made the final tie-in to the source. Thanks, again for your help.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
You need minimum of #10 for a 30A circuit. If you use #12 you'll have to install 20A breakers instead.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
reply to DannyM
From what you've described, it sounds like you are out of your element. It also sounds like livestock my be involved. You need to call a professional.
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.


Spork35

join:2011-07-13
Methuen, MA
reply to DannyM
Click for full size
Just as TheMG and nunya said, your out of your element if your choosing 12AWG for a 30A circuit.


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

the cable is going to a breaker box where two 30A breakers are installed. One breaker will go on to the barn about 75' with 12-2 wire. The other breaker the opposite direction with another 12-2 wire about 65' to an outdoor outlet for a heater this winter in the water trough.

Considering you are installing what is likely 15A or 20A receptacles, you should be using 20A breakers. And then, due to the distance, your wire gauge is too small. You should perform some voltage drop calculations. Or, if you are indeed installing 30A receptacles, then your wire gauge is too small. Either way, what you are planning now is not proper and not code-compliant. (Made no mention of GFCI either.)

said by DannyM :

At the service panel...

You still haven't mentioned whether this is indeed a service panel or a sub-panel. We seriously doubt its a 'service' panel, as you have a 60A main which is prohibited for this application. If its a sub-panel, then it needs a four wire feeder and separate ground and isolated neutral bar. Either way, it appears you don't know the terminology, nor how to properly wire it for it to be code compliant.

said by DannyM :

...I planned to attach two of the leads to the neutral bar and the third leg to the 60A circuit breaker.

This again is improper, unsafe and not code-compliant.

said by DannyM :

I've helped several farmers tie outbuildings for electricity, but not made the final tie-in to the source. Thanks, again for your help

Its nice that you are helping people. Unfortunately, you are guessing (incorrectly) on how to do things and not following the advice in this forum that you asked for. You are not an electrician. There is quite a few more important code requirements (grounding) for livestock areas. Honestly, you should stop before you get someone killed or burn down someone's barn. It may come to that, and I'm sure you don't want that on your conscience (nor facing legal liability for your free help). While you are studying proper wiring and the electric code, I suggest hiring an electrician to properly and safely install these electrical systems.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

1 recommendation

reply to DannyM
When we went out to farms on service calls we'd find things 'all farmered up'...


Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to DannyM
Farms have some of the scariest electrical work in the free world.

billybob2

join:2003-07-23
Moline, IL

1 recommendation

said by Speedy Petey:

Farms have some of the scariest electrical work in the free world.

Perhaps the following news article will provide some confirmation of the last post, and might be an eye-opener for the original poster.

»qctimes.com/news/local/article_b···2e0.html