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Ideal 65 twister for aluminum wiring repair? Independent, expert test results show serious overheating failures.
Independent Field Failure Investigation & Test Lab Results Indicate that Twist-On Connectors for Aluminum Wiring Repairs Do Not Perform Acceptably as a Repair for Residential Aluminum Wiring
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Here are photos of failed Ideal-65™ twist-on connectors currently sold for aluminum wire "repair," submitted by Dr. Jess Aronstein on 1-10-01.
Documents on the Ideal 65 Purple Twister™ Twist-on Connector for Aluminum Wiring Repairs
Documents (listed below) indicate that notwithstanding it's UL Listing, the purple Ideal #65 "does not meet the UL486C heat-cycle test performance requirements when tested with splices representative of the common "pigtailing" combination used in aluminum-wired homes, even though the connector is UL listed for those wire combinations."
The UL response refers-to but does not address Aronstein's findings.
"Analysis of field failures of aluminum-copper pigtail splices madewith twist-on connectors",
Comments: In 1997 a licensed electrician was contracted to replace all aluminum branch wiring in a 1968 residential apartment building used CO/ALR type devices to replace existing devices; the electrician "pigtailed" (aluminum spliced to copper conductor pigtails) heavily loaded branch circuits using a recently-introduced twist-on connector rated for that purpose. Independent testing (see Evaluation of a Twist-on Connector for Aluminum Wire", J. Aronstein, below) had previously demonstrated significant weaknesses of this connector. Other aluminum to copper splices using this connector involved connections to copper wire leads of lighting fixtures, HVAC equipment, and appliances.
Electrical failures were noted within the first year after these repairs had been made, detected by smell or device malfunction. Infra-red temperature measurements showed abnormal heating of other splices. By the end onf 1998 these conditions had led to replacement of all of the newly-made twist-on splices, this time using the COPALUM connector recommended by the US CPSC for this application. During replacement, additional examples of overheating were discovered.
All of the 4,531 removed connectors that had been installed in 102 apartments were retained and provided to Dr. Aronstein for further study. The results were pubished in the 1999 IEEE paper cited above. Aronstein did not find evidence of improper installation of the devices, and study of the aluminum wire itself for abnormalities (such as abnormal levels of oxide film on wire surfaces leading to higher wire-to-wire resistance in the splices) did not find that abnormal wire conditions were a factor in the failures.
These studies left the failures to be attributed to the devices themselves, by components and mechanisms within the device as Aronstein explains in detail in the paper. This article describes the field results and testing of a twist on connector produced by Ideal Industries, Ideal#65 purple "Twister"™ twist-on connector listed and sold as a repair/retrofit for residential aluminum wiring.
"Evaluation of a twist-on connector for aluminum wire",
Poughkeepsie, NY, USA;
Based on the test
results, it is concluded that this connector has not overcome the fundamental deficiency of twist-on connectors for use with aluminum wire, and is not considered to be suitable for permanent splices in residential aluminum wire applications
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