Case Study in Aluminum Wiring: The Pennsylvanian
The following case study is the first in an occasional series intended to illustrate the use of aluminum wire and cable in building applications.
The National Electrical Code has permitted the use of aluminum wire since 1901. Aluminum today competes in the wiring market with copper but boasts an important advantage, in that it takes only one pound of aluminum to equal the current-carrying capacity of two pounds of copper. Lightweight aluminum conductors enable utilities to run transmission lines with half the number of supporting structures than if they were to use copper. As shown in the following case studyprovided courtesy of General Cablealuminum's lightweight advantage can be critical in building applications as well.
The old saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" is usually a reference to how things were constructed by conscientious craftsman who were mindful of quality and longevity. But it is also a statement about design and classic looks that stand the test of time.
The Pennsylvanian is a reflection of that old saying on both counts. Built in 1900 as a railroad station for The Pennsylvanian Union and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a testament to both quality workmanship and timeless classic design.
On a recent visit to the Pennsylvanian, Tom Kostovny, the electrical contractor who rewired the building when it was re-imagined as a hotel 25 years ago, was stricken once again by the timeless sense of quality and care that radiates from the historical treasure.
"The Pennsylvanian is the jewel of Pittsburgh," says Kostovny. "It represents the care and artistry of a bygone era. And while it all looks as fresh as it would have on the day it was built, it also offers all the modern functionality you could want, as well."
Tom had a lot to do with that modern functionality. As the electrical contractor on that mid-80's remodeling job, Tom had the honorand the challengeof upgrading this architectural marvel while ensuring that the result remained faithful to its heritage.
"It was the mid-80's and the economy wasn't great so price was an issue. We were also worried about the weight of the copper spools on the wooden floors. I wanted to use aluminum, but back then people still weren't convinced aluminum was safe. But STABILOY Brand had changed the game. It was the perfect choice."
Twenty-four thousand feet of STABILOY Brand MC Cable, and fifty thousand feet of single conductor STABILOY Brand XHHW-2 later, the switch was thrown and the pride of Pittsburgh, now with its signature exterior lighting, had the facelift it deserved.
"Because of proprietary innovations in STABILOY Brand aluminum cable manufacturing, and because of how tightly this cable connects and terminates, the safety concerns that dogged the aluminum cable of the 1950's no longer applied," says Kostovny. "Also, a 3,000 ft. copper spool would have caved through the wooden floors. Lighter weight aluminum made all the difference. We would drop a spool and pull a floorand then from the same location pull the floor above and below as well. The labor savings were incredible!"
Also incredible is the fact that, despite being re-imagined yet again in recent yearsfrom a hotel into residential and office spacethe 25-year-old wiring is still in use; and there has never been a problem.
"When I met with property manager Kelly Whitmer on my tour, she said there has never been an electrician in the buildingas far as she knowsin the 19 years she has worked there. That says a lot about the quality of the STABILOY Brand products we used."
Tom Kostovny has worked with Alcan Cable (now General Cable) since he opened the doors at Kostovny Electric in West Mifflin 30 years ago; and his son, Daniel, who took over the business from him in January 2012, will use it as well.
"It is easier to transport and lift because it is lighter. It pulls easier. It terminates better. It connects better. When we write our own specs on projects we always specify STABILOY Brand products," says Kostovny.
Daniel adds that another General Cable product, STABILOY Brand MC Cable with a PVC jacket, has come into play in another renovation project because it is approved for direct burial applications.
"We were working on a retirement home that had drywall ceilings throughout. Rather than rip it out we chose STABILOY Brand for sub-feed cable with PVC coating that let us directbury outside. It meant huge savings of both time and money and no disruption of service whatsoever for the residents of the home."
Just as the Pennsylvanian represents the importance of holding true to valued traditions, Daniel Kostovny is starting a tradition at the company founded by his father: offering safe, lasting results for their customers. It's a tradition made possible in part by STABILOY Brand product innovation.
For more information General Cable products, please visit www.generalcable.com.