Using aluminum wiring in prefab homes has a real interesting history. Many modular and manufactured homeowners are confused about the aluminum wiring that is used in their manufactured and prefabricated houses. In reality, it is safe to use aluminum wiring, but you need to be aware of some important considerations for that as discussed below.
Myths about Aluminum Wiring
We often hear that aluminum wiring is not permitted in manufactured homes, but it is not true. If you use proper installation materials and methods, you can use aluminum wiring in your prefab home as in a conventional stick-built house. Traditionally, home electrical wiring uses copper since the introduction of electricity in houses in the 19th century. Aluminum wiring was introduced in North American homes in the mid-1960s, because the price of copper wire was very high and aluminum proved to be a cost-effective alternative. This is why aluminum became very popular in the best manufactured homes wiring since the 1960s.
Is Aluminum as Good as Copper
It is true that aluminum is not as good as copper in conductivity, but modular home manufacturers adjust the conductivity by using larger aluminum wires to offer the same performance and conductivity as copper wires. Most of the branch circuiting wires in home wiring uses 14 gauge copper and the equivalent aluminum wire is 12 gauge. The installation methods for both copper and aluminum are the same.
These are some of the myths and misconceptions about using aluminum wires in modular prefab home wiring. While using aluminum to wire manufactured homes, you should use special connectors as usually the issues arise at connections like switches, light fixtures, receptacles, and at the panel. There are also connectors that can work well with both aluminum and copper wires. Some of these are the small receptacles that are marked Al-Cu or Co/ALR, and large receptacles that are marked Cu-Al or Al-Cu.
You can also use electrical breakers and panels that are marked Cu-Al or Al-Cu. In addition, you can have switches that are suitable for use with both aluminum and copper wires. These switches will be marked Co/ALR and can be used in both types of wiring. There were also some other approved connection systems for aluminum wiring but they are substantially gone now as copper became the preferred wiring material in all type of homes.