How to Connect Copper to an Aluminum Electric Wire

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Things You'll Need

  • Non-contact voltage detector

  • Wire strippers

  • Pliers

  • Aluminum wire anti-oxidant cream

  • Twist-on wire connector

Connecting aluminum to copper wire requires a special process.

Aluminum wire became popular in the 1970s because it conducts electricity well and is less expensive than copper. It quickly lost its popularity went it was deemed responsible for a large volume of home electrical fires. The problem was that the aluminum connections expanded and contracted much greater than copper. This slowly separated the connections creating an electrical short. Solutions to the problem were developed, but aluminum wire never became popular again. Properly joining aluminum and copper wire reduces the chances of a separation of the connection.


Step 1

Turn the power off to the circuit you are working on at the distribution panel. Verify the power is off by touching a non-contact voltage detector to the wire's insulation.

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Step 2

Strip 3/8-inch of insulation from the aluminum and copper wire with wire strippers. Make sure the copper wire has no oxidation on the conductor. Oxidation changes the color of copper to white.


Step 3

Apply a small amount of antioxidant cream to the aluminum wire and wipe off any excess. Twist the two wires together tightly with pliers

Step 4

Squeeze aluminum wire antioxidant cream into the twist-on wire connector. Install the connector on top of the two wires.


Only use a twist-on wire connector that is rated for an aluminum to copper connection and the gauge of wire you are using.



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