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Let’s Talk Wire Nuts

  • This topic has 62 replies, 37 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by Anonymous.
Viewing 20 posts - 41 through 60 (of 63 total)
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  • #65386
    MKE_Voltage
    Moderator
    Saint Francis, WI

    It comes down to personal preference but if done correctly you are shielding the wire completely on the back side and your posts on each side of the outlet remain flush and thus less likely to arc and cause issues down the road. Don’t get me wrong there is still a time and place for screw on connectors but when it comes to me and time I stab away.

    #65412
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    It comes down to personal preference but if done correctly you are shielding the wire completely on the back side and your posts on each side of the outlet remain flush and thus less likely to arc and cause issues down the road. Don’t get me wrong there is still a time and place for screw on connectors but when it comes to me and time I stab away.

    Sounds good i need to try these out.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #65414
    mattryyc
    Pro
    Calgary, Alberta

    Thanks for the info Jason. I want to replace the 20A receptacles I put in the garage. They seem to be cheap and I’ve had the plastic front break away from the rest of the outlet twice now. I’m going to try to find some commercial or medical grade and I think I will try the stab this time around.

    #65464
    MKE_Voltage
    Moderator
    Saint Francis, WI

    Thanks for the info Jason. I want to replace the 20A receptacles I put in the garage. They seem to be cheap and I’ve had the plastic front break away from the rest of the outlet twice now. I’m going to try to find some commercial or medical grade and I think I will try the stab this time around.

    That sounds like a great call. I love using metal boxes anywhere I can. The metal built in face is so much more durable than plastic. When I moved into my house I added tons of 4 outlet metal boxes all around the back room of my basement and garage.

    #221957

    Guess it’s time to revive an old thread. I hadn’t come back to this one after my last post, but somehow it came up in a search just now.

    I’ve traditionally avoided stab-ins, based on the advice of senior electricians. When stab-ins were first introduced (not sure how they’re produced now or if any improvements have been made), the only contact of the outlet with the wire came from a fairly thin metal tang, bent backwards, which allowed the wire to be stabbed-in, but which had to be displaced in order to let the wire be removed (the mechanical aspect of that hasn’t changed). Think of the barb on a fish hook, but make it flat and groove it so the wire can pass across it.

    Trouble with the old switches/outlets though is that the “contact patch” between the grooved metal tang and the wire was quite small. This didn’t much matter if you were powering a reading lamp (60w), but it very much mattered if you were plugging in grammy’s Hoover or mom’s Hair Dryer with the 1500w start-up current draw… that was nearly the full capacity of the circuit, but it all had to go through this tiny contact patch where the conductor and the metal tang touched. Pulling that much current through such a small area means that the resistance was quite high and that heat would be generated… you can see where this could lead if a given outlet was called upon for a heavy load for any length of time.

    Because of this, the old-timers were/are insistent that you properly dress and terminate a conductor under the screw terminal, because as the screw was tightened, pressure was applied to the copper that was curved around the screw, deforming it slightly and making for a much larger contact patch between the conductor and the metal back-plate, the screw shaft, and the flat underside of the screw head. Why force electricity down to the surface area of a few square millimeters of contact, when you could instead spread that contact over multiple faces along 1/2″ of conductor and have significantly lower resistance?

    Having seen what overheated wiring connections can do, I’m loathe to tempt fate, as it were, by using the stab-in option. I realize that it was approved by UL, codified in the NEC, etc… but I also know what the electrical ramifications are if that contact that you can’t see should somehow fail to perform it’s job correctly. I can see when the side screws bite down on the stripped and curled conductor, I can feel when I’ve got enough torque on the screw, etc… I can trust those things. I’m just leery about trusting the stab-in where I can’t see how/how much contact has been made.

    Now, it’s very possible that modern outlets have better contact patches in their stab-in mechanisms than what the early ones did. I’d hope so. And many millions of people have them installed throughout their homes and are doing just fine. So, my concern probably isn’t firmly grounded in rationality. That said, I’m particular about such things. Using the traditional connection method with an outlet gives me peace of mind and I’m willing to put my name on it when I’m done, so that’s what I do.

    Maybe at some point I should take apart a modern outlet or switch and inspect the stab-in mechanism. That would be interesting.

    My other issue with stab-ins is a practical one… having had to replace a great many outlets that had been connected in that fashion, I can’t begin to describe the frustration that comes from having to flex the outlet & wires in such a way that I can get enough access to the tiny little release mechanism that lets me free the conductors from the outlet. Trying to get a tiny straight-bladed screwdriver lined up so I can jam it into the release hole far enough to free the conductors is just a royal PITA. I do all my outlets with the screw terminals just out of pity for folks in the future who might want to change out the outlet… All that flexing on the wires isn’t healthy for the copper anyway, and why put someone else through all that hassle.

    This started out as my $0.02, but it looks like it’s turned into my $0.20 or so. Refunds will be available.

    #221964
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Fantastic explanation SierraBob, Thank you for your input.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #221978
    hgonzalez7
    Pro
    San Antonio, Texas

    Fantastic explanation SierraBob, Thank you for your input.

    Yes, great explanation. It’s always good to know why certain methods are preferred over others. It’s definitely appreciated.

    Bert

    #222032
    staker
    Pro

    The brand of wire nuts don’t matter to me , and I like to tape them as well. Thanks for the wire connector tip

    #222202

    Thank you for taking the time for such a detailed answer. Very much appreciated.

    #222241
    TonyG
    Pro
    Colorado Springs, CO

    Really great explanation!

    #222244

    Fanastic overview @SierraBob! I feel the same way! My old man was a sparky for awhile and he was taught the same as you (and so he taught me).

    Andrew

    A Working Pro since 1995!

    Member since March 26, 2014.

    #222518
    TonyG
    Pro
    Colorado Springs, CO

    I used to carry one of those stab type wire nuts with me that burned up due to the connection being loose to show apprentices and HO’s why I don’t like them.

    #288128
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Ideal Tan Twisters. They cover a huge range – from a minimum of three 22AWG all the way to a max of 3 #10’s, and the end of them is formed so that they can be twisted with a 5/16″ nut driver. Alternately, the red Ideal Wing Nuts offer an equally impressive though slightly different range, and the wings really do help if twisting them by hand.

    I also carry an assortment of the Ideal In-Sure push in connectors, using them primarily when I need to save a little room in a device box that’s tight on space.

    #288132

    Ideal Tan Twisters. They cover a huge range – from a minimum of three 22AWG all the way to a max of 3 #10’s, and the end of them is formed so that they can be twisted with a 5/16″ nut driver. Alternately, the red Ideal Wing Nuts offer an equally impressive though slightly different range, and the wings really do help if twisting them by hand.

    I also carry an assortment of the Ideal In-Sure push in connectors, using them primarily when I need to save a little room in a device box that’s tight on space.

    Excellent tip on the 5/16 nut driver!! Those two are my stocked wire nuts as well.

    Andrew

    A Working Pro since 1995!

    Member since March 26, 2014.

    #288139
    TonyG
    Pro
    Colorado Springs, CO

    I prefer the 3m tan/reds. I don’t really know why I just like them.

    #288159
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I suppose it’s about what you’re used to. Back in my hometown, the local supply carried the full Ideal line. Never once used a Klein product for the first 5 years or so of my career.

    #288195
    TonyG
    Pro
    Colorado Springs, CO

    That is interesting to hear. I was the opposite. I never used any other product besides Klein for the first 5 years of my career. The only reason I have ideal now is because I get them for free from my supply house. When I buy I still buy Klein.

    #288202
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    My bag’s mostly Klein nowadays, thanks in big part to big box clearancing.

    #288277
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Ideal Tan Twisters. They cover a huge range – from a minimum of three 22AWG all the way to a max of 3 #10’s, and the end of them is formed so that they can be twisted with a 5/16″ nut driver. Alternately, the red Ideal Wing Nuts offer an equally impressive though slightly different range, and the wings really do help if twisting them by hand.

    I also carry an assortment of the Ideal In-Sure push in connectors, using them primarily when I need to save a little room in a device box that’s tight on space.

    Excellent tip on the 5/16 nut driver!! Those two are my stocked wire nuts as well.

    That is a great tip and I have saved it. One question?? Do you just shove the wires in or do you twist them first?

    #288292

    Ideal Tan Twisters. They cover a huge range – from a minimum of three 22AWG all the way to a max of 3 #10’s, and the end of them is formed so that they can be twisted with a 5/16″ nut driver. Alternately, the red Ideal Wing Nuts offer an equally impressive though slightly different range, and the wings really do help if twisting them by hand.

    I also carry an assortment of the Ideal In-Sure push in connectors, using them primarily when I need to save a little room in a device box that’s tight on space.

    Excellent tip on the 5/16 nut driver!! Those two are my stocked wire nuts as well.

    That is a great tip and I have saved it. One question?? Do you just shove the wires in or do you twist them first?

    I twist them first then twist the wire nut on. Not sure if that’s the correct way though.

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