AlumiConn torque tests by D Friedman (C) Daniel Friedman How to repair aluminum wiring using the AlumiConn™ pigtail & splicing connector
How to Reduce the Risk of Aluminum Wiring Fires
     


InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

AlumiConn™ splice connector installation: this article describes the acceptable methods to repair aluminum wiring when using the AlumiConn™ splicing connector to connect copper to aluminum wires and aluminum-to-aluminum wires.

We describe how to make aluminum to copper pigtail connections using the COPALUM connector or the AlumiConn™ connector as well as how to make aluminum-to-aluminum wire connections and aluminum ground wire connections. For safe aluminum wiring repairs, readers must follow the manufacturer's instructions provided by King Innovations, the AlumiConn manufacturer as well as recommendations from the US CPSC for aluminum wiring repair.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

How to Make Aluminum Wiring Repairs Using the AlumiConn™ Splice Connector

AlumiConn torque tests by D Friedman (C) Daniel Friedman AlumiConn TM Purple #95135 aluminum to copper lug connectors [1], new in 2006, U.L. Listed, 2007, have completed independent testing,and are now US CPSC recommended as of 2011. These connectors are available from King Innovation and at building & electrical suppliers.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Results of independent testing indicate that this product "... is predicted to have a high probability of failure-free long-term safe performance, PROVIDED THAT THE SETSCREWS ARE CAREFULLY TIGHTENED TO THE MANUFACTURER'S RECOMMENDATION".

The AlumiConn™ connector shown here is used to splice a copper "pigtail" wire together with one or two aluminum wires as a step in reducing the fire hazard associated with aluminum electrical wiring. This connector performs well provided that the wires are properly secured in the connector, and it has been included in the US CPSC recommendations for aluminum wiring repair.

Installation Instructions for the AlumiConn Aluminum to Copper Lug (AL-CU)

Installation Instructions for the AlumiConn are simple and involve just four steps:

  1. Strip conductors 5/16"
  2. Insert conductor into wire port, fully seating conductor into port
  3. Tighten set screws to the torque indicated below, based on conductor size and material as indicated. [See AlumiConn TORQUE SETTINGS]
  4. Once all conductors are installed,close lid taking care to verify latch is securely fastened.

Caution: not following recommended torque instructions can result in failiure.

These easy instructions do not however address real-world trouble that comes up in any electrical wiring retrofit or repair job such as avoiding damage to the existing finished wall surfaces, connector torquing challenges, finding space to fit the original device (receptacle, light switch etc) into the electrical box along with original wires, pigtail copper wires, and splicing connectors, and how to handle ground wires.

We address these practical concerns in this article and in in-depth articles linked to from the text below.

Watch out: this article (below) provides additional in-depth details about using the AlumiConn connector for splice repairs to aluminum electrical wiring. For a safe proper installation follow the complete AlumiConn installation instructions provided by the manufacturer and also found at

Reference: details of the study and recommendations are on page #6 (the 9th page in the .pdf file) in Dr. J.A. Aronstein's .pdf document version of "Reducing the Fire Hazards in Aluminum Wired Homes" May 21, 2007. The test results are completed and will be published in September 2007. (100 connectors cost $285. Lower prices for larger quantities.)

Where to Buy the AlumiConn connector

  • The AlumiConn website - http://www.kinginnovation.com/products/alumiconn/ has installation videos, Wire combinations, specification sheets,  and other information and assistance in purchasing or using this product.
  • The AlCopStore [link given above] is an independent website where you can also purchase the AlumiConn™ aluminum wiring connector.
  • Home Depot and other building supply stores
  • Electrical wiring & equipment suppliers

Technical notes on Installing or Wiring the AlumiConn™ for aluminum wiring repair

Installation instructions for AlumiConn™ for aluminum wiring repair

Installation details & notes are found in this article just below where we will provide important details about installing and torquing the AlumiConn™connector for successful aluminum wiring repair.

Photo of the AlumiConn aluminum wire lug connector sold by King Innovations

  • Aluminum Wire Repair Connector Space Problems in junction boxes and receptacle boxes:
    at ALUMINUM WIRE REPAIR SPLICE SPACE we discuss options for fitting the AlumiConn™ connector and/or COPALUM and the necessary copper pigtail wires into electrical boxes where space is tight. The NEC makes an exception to connector count and wire count and space limitations to permit the use of these connectors for aluminum wiring repairs.
  • Field installation experience, installation time, pigtail lengths are discussed
    at ALUMINUM WIRING REPAIR FIELD NOTES - practical advice & field experience using the AlumiConn™ connector
  • Aluminum ground wires: don't forget that not only original solid aluminum the hot and neutral conductors but also the aluminum ground conductor need to be treated.

    See ALUMINUM GROUND WIRES for additional wiring details and an example using the AlumiConn™.

Torque settings for the AlumiConn™ Splice Connector

AlumiConn torque tests by D Friedman (C) Daniel FriedmanTorque specifications (discussed here) for the AlumiConn are particularly important for this particular connector as it involves tightening a screw in a terminal block to secure the aluminum or copper wire being spliced.

This connector can be used to join wire types & sizes as follows

AlumiConn™ Splice Connector Wire Sizes

#18 - #10 Solid & Stranded Copper
#12 - #10 Solid Aluminum



Aronstein emphasized that the connector's acceptable performance relied on using the proper torque settings.[3] King Innovations provides two installation methods, depending on whether or not you own a torque-screwdriver.

Our photo (left) shows the bit of a torque screwdriver inserted into the screw in the AlumiConn™ terminal block.

SK 73004 Torque Screwdriver needed for AlumiConn Repairs (C) Daniel FriedmanWatch out: the manufacturer makes clear that their installation instructions for the AlumiConn without using a torque-setting screwdriver are not included in the CPSC recommendations, but the " manufacturer (King Innovation) stands firmly behind this installation method." [1]

Torque settings for the AlumiConn™: Reading the UL document we found no mention whatsoever of torque specifications - those are particularly important for this particular connector as it involves tightening a screw in a terminal block to secure the aluminum or copper wire being spliced. Aronstein emphasized that the connector's acceptable performance relied on using the proper torque settings.

Aluminum wire repair AlumiConn™ torque settings are described just below in this article and are also found at the AlumiConn site - you'd need the $100. SK SK 73004 torque measuring screwdriver to install these connectors - costly, but much less so than renting the COPALUM crimping tool and becoming certified to use it.

SK 73004 Torque Screwdriver needed for AlumiConn Repairs (C) Daniel FriedmanOur photo at above-left shows the SK 73004 torque setting screwdriver with the hex wrench installed to permit setting the desired torque reading on this tool.

Our photo at left shows the 15 inch-pound setting on the SK 73004 torque measuring screwdriver [provided courtesy of King Innovations - Ed].

The "alternative method" described by the manufacturer for tightening the screws produces torque close to or exceeding the actual torque specified numbers (according to some preliminary tests we have done in our lab) - photo at left.

But we are not confident that that approach would be adequate for general field use where individual human performance may vary considerably.

For example, you may not be exactly sure just when the setscrew "... comes into contact with the solid conductor". King is confident of this approach but is careful to point out that it is not associated with the UL listing for the product.

The AlumiConn™ Torque settings specified by King Innovation

AlumiConn™ Aluminum to Copper Lug (AL-CU) Torque Settings for UL-Listed Application & Installation

#12 Solid Aluminum 10 in-lb
#10 Solid Aluminum 15 in-lb
All solid & stranded copper conductors 15 in-lb

Notes:

Manufacturer approved alternate torque method for us on solid wiring only (not associated with UL listing): using a screwdriver, tighten screw set until it comes into contact with the conductor. Note location of the screwdriver slot and continue tightening the set screw as indicated below:

1 turn - #12 - #10 Solid Aluminum wire
1/2 turn - #16 - #10 Solid Copper wire

Caution: not following recommended torque instructions can result in failiure.

Finally, King always recommends that installers to check the connection security by giving a quick tug on the wires to make sure they are tight.

Adapted from AlumiConn™ Purple #95103 #18AWG - #10 AWG package information.


Also see AlumiConn TORQUE TESTS - where independent test compares measured torque with the manufacturer's alternative torque method of counting screw turns

Technical note on binding and poor wire connections in aluminum terminal blocks & aluminum wire repairs

In larger-sized electrical wire connector applications such as electrical panel buses (not this product), we have saw (prior to 2011) aluminum-block connection failures occur when the steel screw bound in the aluminum block, appearing to be a tight connection before proper contact with the wire has been made.

Mr. King informed us that they have addressed this concern by plating the screws in nickel and plating the lug block in tin, thus eliminating the galling found in other lugs. Also there is a very small gap at the back of the wire terminal block where the installer can see the wire (coated in sealant) coming through. This provides visual confirmation that the wires came all the way through.

Junction box / receptacle box space limitations & aluminum wire repairs

As we introduced in discussing the COPALUM, the AlumiConn™ connectors and the copper pigtail wires also take up more space in a junction box or receptacle box than the original wires and connectors. The manufacturer informs us that the AlumiConn™ and the COPALUM are similar in the space these devices require.

At ALUMINUM WIRE REPAIR SPLICE SPACE we discuss options for fitting the COPALUM connector or the AlumiConn™ connector along with copper pigtail wires into electrical boxes where space is tight.

At ALUMINUM WIRING REPAIR FIELD NOTES we discuss practical field experience using the AlumiConn™ connector along with copper pigtail wires into existing electrical boxes and describe the installer's opinions about optimum pigtail wire working length and installation time requirements.

Safety & Usability of the AlumiConn™: 4 Points of Discussion

1. Independent tests showed that IF the Alumiconn connector is properly installed (including torquing to the proper torque setting) it performs as well as COPALUM. We have absolute confidence in Dr. Aronstein in this matter - he is fully qualified, experienced, and is an unbiased independent party with no financial connection to the company selling Alumiconn (nor to any one else selling other products).

Here is Aronstein's paper on the topic: Reducing the Fire Hazards in Aluminum-Wired Homes - 5/21/07, (AlumiConn™ info is on p. 9)

The Alumiconn™ is UL listed (UL 486C) as a "pressure type screw connector" (USA) and CSA approved (Canada) for aluminum wiring repairs.

For general information about that listing type, see this UL connector information on the UL listing for wire connectors.

2. U.S. CPSC: This connector performs well provided that the wires are properly secured in the connector, and it has been included in the US CPSC recommendations for aluminum wiring repair as of approximately June 2011.[2][3]

3. Torque settings for the AlumiConn™: Reading the UL document we see no mention whatsoever of torque specifications - those are particularly important for this particular connector as it involves tightening a screw in a terminal block to secure the aluminum or copper wire being spliced. Aronstein emphasized that the connector's acceptable performance relied on using the proper torque settings.

AlumiConn torque tests by D Friedman (C) Daniel Friedman

Torque settings are described at AlumiConn TORQUE SETTINGS

The "alternative method" described by the manufacturer for tightening the screws produces torque close to or exceeding the actual torque specified numbers (according to some preliminary tests we have done in our lab) - photo at left.

In a separate article, AlumiConn TORQUE TESTS describes an independent test comparing torque results using a torque-measuring screwdver, the SK 73004 torque measuring screwdriver [provided courtesy of King Innovations - Ed] and the manufacturer's alternative torque setting method that involves counting the number of screw turns past first contact.

4. UL listing vs CPSC Recommended: So if you were working for someone else and wanted to install only the CPSC-recommended connectors, you'd use only the AMP/TYCO COPALUM™ method or the AlumiConn™.

In March 2010, prior to the CPSC recommendation of AlumiConn™ connectors for aluminum wiring repairs, we (DJF) presented this information for a group of 50 licensed electricians at an Aluminum Wiring Repair Methods Update - class [power point presentation[ in Dallas TX. These were trained licensed electricians who are informed and conservative in their practice. The company's position was that they would not use an connector that was not CPSC-recommended, notwithstanding its UL listing.

Indeed, some products carrying a UL listing for aluminum wiring repair have been shown to perform very poorly in the field, such as CU/AL devices and the Ideal65 purple "Twister" connector sold for that purpose.

 

Continue reading at AlumiConn TORQUE TESTS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see ALUMINUM WIRING REPAIR FIELD NOTES for field experience using the AlumiConn™

Suggested citation for this web page

AlumiConn INSTALLATION PROCEDURE at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.

...




Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References