ALUMINUM VERSUS COPPER WIRE TERMINATIONS

From www.cable.alcan.com

Reliable performance from connections of conductors and connectors is essential to the operation of any electrical system. In the competitive environment of today, however, a new criterion has emerged as the search continues for more economical ways of achieving, and surpassing, the high expectations of installers, legislators, and end users. Aluminum alloy conductors offer an option to copper conductors, and Alcan Cable believes that they match the performance of copper in electrical circuits governed by code requirements.

In order to put substance to this claim, a program was designed and carried out for Alcan Cable, by Southern Development Investment Group (SDIG) / Georgia Power Research Center, with the following objectives.

• To verify that connections of AA-8030 aluminum alloy conductors with mechanical screw type connectors perform as well as the similar connections of electrically equivalent copper conductors in a heat cycling test that is more severe than industry accepted standards (UL 486B or CSA C22.2 No. 651 & ANSI C119.4).

• To verify that connections of AA-8030 aluminum alloy conductors with mechanical screw type connectors perform as well as the similar connections of copper conductors in a torque retention test.

• To compare physical properties of AA-8030 and copper conductor materials before and after heat cycling test. Testing can provide an important means of assessing connection performance relative to different connector designs and conductor types. Chosen with care, tests can also provide a convenient indicator of expected life under normal conditions of use. There are a number of different tests which simulate the aging of connectors, the most important of which require cyclical current loading in order to duplicate the repetitive expansion and contraction phases of metal-to-metal contacts encountered in pressure type connectors. Electrical utility standards are generally more demanding due to higher circuit loadings, size for size, than would usually be permitted under National Electrical Code rules.

For the results of this test, visit http://www.mikeholt.com/htmlnews/equipment/aluminumtermination.pdf

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