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Push-in wire connectors vs. wire nuts

AhneedHelp's picture

Hello -

While at the local supplier buying fiberglass rods, I came upon a display of Ideal's push-in wire connectors.

They are designed to be used instead of wirenuts, and is for one-time use only. They seem like a great idea and would make running wires a lot easier.

If you are using these things, I would love some feedback.

I'm about to start a big rewiring project.

Thanks,

Alan

(post #109557, reply #1 of 42)

dont be a companys guinea pig. they are fast but are just like back stabbing a receptacle. they can pop out or lose the connectioin

(post #109557, reply #2 of 42)

I'll stay with the wire nuts.

Tom

(post #109557, reply #3 of 42)

Thanks for the warnings, which is why I am hoping to hear from folks who has used them.

I am not one to even consider using the push-in connectors in recepticles.

But they seem to offer a more secure connection then the push-in holes in cheap recepticles.

I realize I'm trying to go for more convenience but safety would be the first concern.

They are clear and all connections are visible and seem to be a carryover from phone wiring connectors.

Once the wire is inserted, it has to be cut if it needs to be removed.

The connectors are not to be reused.

And (improperly) joined wire nut connections can pop loose as well, I suppose. Heavens that would never happen in any of mine....

Alan

(post #109557, reply #4 of 42)

While we're at it...

Push-In Wire Connector

IN-SURE‚Ñ¢ PUSH-IN WIRE CONNECTOR is a timesaving alternative to traditional twist-on connectors. The connector uses a push-in design that safely terminates any combination of 12 to 18 awg solid or tin-bonded copper conductors without twisting, resulting in reduced fatigue and greater productivity. The connectors feature a clear,

polycarbonate housing that permits the installer to visually verify every connection. They are available in seven multi-port models, ranging from two to eight ports, each featuring a unique color-coding. Ideal Industries, Inc., Sycamore, IL

(post #109557, reply #7 of 42)

I have seen too many of these types connections fail to have much faith in them. The push in type commonly used on receptacles by short sighted electricians are miserable if ever loaded near the circuit capacity but are easily enough, assuming the house doesn't burn, to find the fault and repair it. When these connector are widely used in house wiring I know to expect, given a few years, lots of extra service calls.


These units typically have a small contact surface that is maintained in contact with the conductor by the pressure supplied by a small leaf spring usually made of phosphore bronze. When these assemblies are made to carry a load anywhere near the capacity of the wire they heat up. The heat causes the spring to loose its resiliency and loosen. This eventually leads to more heating and eventual arcing. This stops when the circuit is broken, when the contacts melt back, or the firemen pull the meter.


I will stick to wire nuts where I can strip each wire individually. Twist them together. Install a quality wire nut made by a major manufacturer. After each step I, as a matter of course, I visually and mechanically check for errors. Once this behavior is learned it happens so quickly that many of these steps are missed by an untrained eye. After a few years of practice most electricians no longer even realize that they go through all the steps. The good ones still do.


High quality IDC connectors have a long, two decades, of proven performance in circuits that are limited in the amperage available. The primary usage is in telecommunications but they are useful for florescent fixture wiring where they usually carry currents of less than 1 amp or are taps where the main circuit current is carried by an unbroken conductor. Without the need to carry higher amperages, assuming that they are installed correctly, these connections do not heat up and fail.

(post #109557, reply #8 of 42)

Thanks, 4LORN1 -

As usual, you offer sensible suggestions.

I've come to the conclusion these things should be used selectively.

And the connectors do come with a rating specified on the boxes - 600-volts general wiring and 1000 volts for lights and signs.

"Do not use in kitchen" is very wise.

The box mentions they work with stranded wire, which would come in handy for lighting fixtures, especially flourescent. But those wires are not a big deal with wirenuts, so the advantage of push-in is not a major factor.

I guess I tired of twisting together the occasional 3 or 4 12-gauge wires.

Somebody should come out with a wire connector that's used in heavy duty outlets - insert wire and clamp down with the screw.

Saw a great idea in the tip section in one of FH's older issues.

A very simple wooden block gizmo for better leverage/handhold when twisting wirenuts.

Everybody has mentioned "better quality wire nuts".

Are there brands that should be avoided or recommended ?

I have a large assortment of "GB" nuts leftover from previous projects.

Thanks to everybody who responded thus far.

Alan

(post #109557, reply #9 of 42)

Does anyone use the crimp connectors and covers? Like the Buchannan series? Is this the "cats" meow of electrical work?

Seems like it is more permanent than wire nuts, more secure, but of course not as easy to modify later.

I used them in all my recessed lights...as I don't want to have to go back into them through my ceiling materials. Thinking about using them on all my outlets and switches were possible.

Thanks much,

Bruce

(post #109557, reply #12 of 42)

Ahneedhelp,


Some "commercial grade" receptacles and most GFIs have an effective clamp type connection that is as easy to use as stripping the wire, to the length specified, inserting it into the hole and tightening the screw firmly while holding the wire into the hole. Just be sure to watch amount of insulation removed and be sure the clamping plate starts on the same side of the wire as the screw. These receptacles have improved contacts and more durable construction in addition to the clamp connections and are well worth the extra cost in locations that see high loads and frequent plug movement, kitchens, bathrooms and shops, that would wear out lesser devices quickly.


PIRGERBRUCE,


The common history around here is that crimp caps were good. Better that many early wirenuts and their use was preferred for ground connections long after wirenuts became accepted for other connections. Inspectors around here now prefer wirenuts for all connections.


I have heard, from military electronics technicians, that many systems still use a connector similar to the crimp caps. I have also seen these in some industrial settings. They are brass sleeves that are slipped over the conductors to be connected. A small, slotted, set screw is tightened to lock the conductors together. The sleeve has an external thread that accepts a plastic cap that looks much like a wire nut.


This system has several advantages. While fully insulated by the cap when it is in place the conductors are easily available for electrical circuit testing, inspection and application of anticorrosion agents once the cap is removed. Also, important in an high vibration environment, is that the connection can be easily checked for tightness by torquing the set screw slightly. All this can be done without damaging the conductors.


From what I heard some military systems, missile and radar, with these connectors were completely retested and inspected every few days. These connectors made the job much easier and reduced the need to rewire because of the wire damage that would occur with other methods.

(post #109557, reply #13 of 42)

4LORN1 -

re - Some "commercial grade" receptacles and most GFIs have an effective clamp type connection that is as easy to use as stripping the wire,....

Yes, I am aware of these and those are the types of recepticles I've been using. After reading Rex Cauldwell's book, I've steered clear of the cheaper recepticles.

I did mention my wishful thinking on a earlier post for a wirenut alternative that uses this method, which you mention in your reply to PIRGERBRUCE. (Crimp caps.)

I was hoping for a more convenience without sacrificing the quality of connection. Even if they are not allowed in our area, I may want to try a couple of these crimp caps.

Thanks for the reply,

Alan

(post #109557, reply #21 of 42)

Bruce,


In special applications, I use the Buchannan 2006S or 2011S crimp sleeves or ferrules and the snap-on insulating caps, and the C-24 crimp tool.  Makes for an "irreversible" splice.  I use them for wiring up smoke detectors on high-end jobs, and for splicing the neutrals in multi-wire circuits where the two hots diverge.  Not near as fast as spinning an a wire nut, but talk about a solid connection that's not going to loosen with heat cycles or be disturbed by an unqualified person.


Fifteen years ago the system (C-24 tool, the ferrules, and caps) were available at my local Home Depot.  Now even the supply houses have to special order everything but the ferrules.  And Buchannan also makes a terminal end (ring or fork in various stud sizes) that was crimped on with the C-24.  The terminals are uninsulated, but work great for motor wiring (esp 8 and 10 gage conductors).


Cliff

(post #109557, reply #22 of 42)

Thanks cliff...I have indeed only been able to find one local place that has the `Buchannan copper rings and covers. I like them...they are very sturdy indeed. Can't imagine cutting through all my T&G pine ceilings in 10 years to fix a damned loose wire nut!

(post #109557, reply #16 of 42)

IMHO, twisting solid (not stranded) wires prior to using wire nuts is a wasted effort anyhow. They hold just as well without.

(post #109557, reply #17 of 42)

"twisting solid (not stranded) wires prior to using wire nuts is a wasted effort anyhow. They hold just as well without."

Not in my experience. I've never had to fix a twisted set.

I have, however had to poke around in several boxes to figure out why I wasn't getting power somewhere, only to find that one wire had slipped out of an un-twisted set.

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

(post #109557, reply #18 of 42)

Like 4LORN1, I always always always check my wirenut connections mechanically by pulling on them.

Ken Hill

(post #109557, reply #19 of 42)

You might technically be right. The instructions I've seen on containers of wire nuts also say you don't have to twist the wires.

But after spending an hour or 2 pulling covers off boxes one evening only to eventually find just such a failed connection, I don't think it's a good idea.

Twisting the wires only takes a second.


My karma ran over my dogma.

(post #109557, reply #23 of 42)

I twist the connections in an attempt to assure myself that the connection is as well made as I can, within a reasonable time, make it. With two or even three conductors the same size and careful attention twisting just makes mw feel better. When the number of conductor increases, especially 4 or more, one conductor will fail to make contact with the wirenut and be held unbent between the other conductors. This wire is subject to being pulled out with light pressure and may fall out when the connection is heat cycled.


When the conductors are solid and of mixed size twisting the group first allows you to make sure that the smaller wires don't just wind around the larger. For maximum strength and reliability it is important to make sure that the larger conductor is wound around the smaller enough to keep it from being an unbent core that will pull out.


The other compelling reason to twist is that while trouble shooting or modifying circuits in a medical or commercial setting it is often necessary to work it live. When a wirenut is removed, especially when the connection is one containing 8 or 10 conductors, from an untwisted connection it is common for the wires to scatter while quail. This sort of thing makes for a memorable day. This being much worse when you are working the neutral. A hot connection has 1 hot and the others are dead. The neutral connection has one dead with the remainder being live. A twisted connection tends to stay together and remain much more manageable.

(post #109557, reply #40 of 42)

Hello 4LORN1,

I realize that this partictular thread is old, but it seemed to be the best place for this newbie to jump in with a concern. I like to twist wires and then add the wire nut as you suggest. But I wonder what stress due to the bending and wearing of the ends with my dikes I might be putting on the conductors. I don't want any of my connections comming back to haunt me later on if I can help it.

Thanks for you opinion.

(post #109557, reply #41 of 42)

Conductors can be fatigued by repeated bending. Bending a paperclip back and forth until it stiffens and snaps is the classic example of this. Also conductors that are nicker develop stress concentrations that can cause them to rip and snap particularly if the metal is work hardened.

Re:"stress due to the bending and wearing of the ends with my dikes"

First I would hope that in anything less than an absolute emergency you wouldn't be using dikes, diagonal cutting pliers. Pliers with flat, possibly knurled for traction, gripping surfaces would be preferred. Linesmen's pliers, commonly termed "Kleins" are the near universal electricians favorites. Dikes are designed to cut wire and these cutting edges could easily nick the wire if used to form the wire.

As far as manipulating the wire stressing it you have to remember that metal fatigue usually becomes a problem only when repeated. Copper is shipped very near dead soft and so you can twist and bend it quite a bit before fatigue becomes a problem. A single twisting would seem unlikely to cause problems as long as the tool didn't nick the wire. In normal construction the wire is twisted up once and a wire nut put on. The connection will likely go many decades before anyone messes with it again.

Sometimes I see connections that have been made and unmade many times. These sometimes will fatigue the wire to the point that the wire fails just below the area twisted. Something to look out for.

Even this is easily handled by trimming the wire back a half inch or so to get to a portion that has less of a hard life. All of this is much more of a problem with solid conductors. Stranded conductors have different problems.



In short. Using the proper tool and a reasonable amount of care twisting the connections together and trimming it square does not stress the wire to any great degree.

(post #109557, reply #42 of 42)

...Pliers with flat, possibly knurled for traction, gripping surfaces would be preferred. Linesmen's pliers, commonly termed "Kleins" are the near universal electricians favorites. Dikes are designed to cut wire and these cutting edges could easily nick the wire if used to form the wire.

Open mouth insert foot. I should have said "Kleins", except that mine are made by Diamond(also known for horseshoes), and have a different balance than the Klein brand. I don't think they're available anymore and I sure wish they were. I generally only use diagonal cutters for smaller wires such as low voltage stuff. Thanks for the information.

(post #109557, reply #5 of 42)

ah--


The only time I've used 'em is in instances where the wires are so short back in the box that they're the only alternative short of moving the box.  You insert the extension wire first, and jab the nut w/wire onto the short wire in the box.


I won't do it on a kitchen counter circuit, where loads are usually large.


WAGO has a version that supposedly works with stranded wire too.  I'd like to try those for installing light fixtures, but I'm having a hard time finding a distributor who'll order a small quantity.


My recco--stick with brand name wire nuts and pre-twist or use a wire nut driver and your power screwdriver.


Cliff

(post #109557, reply #6 of 42)

Cliff -

Thanks for the reply.

So far, the general wisdom seems to be against them.

As for wirenut drivers, I may want to try one.

I haven't seen one on display, so if you have a particular brand that you are familiar with, I would appreciate a name.

Otherwise, I guess I'll do it the grunt way and pre-twist and go at it.

Alan

(post #109557, reply #20 of 42)

3M makes a socket make for the wing style wire nut.  Works well with Ideal wing nuts (yellows, reds, and blues).  One version is a socket on a standard 1/4" hex drive shaft; the other is on the end of a dog-leg speed driver (called a WCD driver; see the 3M website at www.3M.com).  Check with your local electrical distributor.  The speed driver version is only $10 or so.  Well worth it.


The cool thing is that with a power screwdriver, like the Milwaukee 2.4V or Panasonic 3.6V (or any power driver like the B&D versa-pack), the WCD driver will twist the wires as it spins the nut on.  It makes for an extremely solid splice without a lot of effort.  The speed driver will do this too, but if you're making up the boxes in a 4000SF house, the power driver is real nice.


Another option, just available, is a wirenut with a phillips screw slot in the top.  You can spin them on with a regular #2 phillips.  See www.scru-it.com.  I got some of them, but haven't had enough experience to form an opinion.  It is real nice to be able to spin on the wirenut and then drive the device screws without changing driver bits.


Cliff

(post #109557, reply #24 of 42)

I like the looks of those "scru-it" things but did you read the text on their front page? It says: "Save up to 150% in wire connection time".

So if I was spending one minute doing a twisted connection, I'd take one minute minus 150%. That's negative 30 seconds. Wonder if my watch would run backwards while I was using those things?


Common sense isn't very common.

(post #109557, reply #26 of 42)

re- "So if I was spending one minute doing a twisted connection, I'd take one minute minus 150%. That's negative 30 seconds. Wonder if my watch would run backwards while I was using those things?"

-----

Boss Hog -

You crack me up.

This wishful thinking should become reality when I spend time in the attic.

NOT !!

Alan

(post #109557, reply #25 of 42)

Cliff -

Great tips on wirenut twister tools.

They are on my shopping list for today !

Thanks a bunch for all the help,

Alan

(post #109557, reply #27 of 42)

Hi, Cliff -

Ordered the 49919 (P) WCD power wire connector driver made by 3M.

The local electrical house also sells the 3M nuts.

The other supplier down the road sells the Ideal nuts.

I was warned to maybe experiement with the clutch setting on the drill when using the drivers.

Many electricians who tried them have gone back to twisting them by hand because the driver was stripping the wires through the nuts.

My wrists are not what they used to be, so I will give the driver a try and make it work for me.

Thanks again for the tool tip.

Alan

(post #109557, reply #28 of 42)

If anyone knows of mail-order sources for such things as the 3M wirenut twister, I would appreciate the info.

Thanks !

Alan

(post #109557, reply #29 of 42)

Ideal makes a crank-handled screwdriver that has a socket opposite the blade that grips some types of wirenuts. I didn't like it too much but a journeyman I work with swears by it. The difference in perceived value might be explained by noting that while my wrists are tender after a long day his wrists cause him great, debilitating, pain after a few dozen wirenuts without the screwdriver assist.

(post #109557, reply #30 of 42)

I'm going with the 3M nut driver....

However, our local supplier has to order them and there is a minimum order of 10 for them to get it.

He's going to see if 3M will let them have a sample which I can buy.

They have no desire to keep them in stock.

(post #109557, reply #31 of 42)

My local electrical supply house told me they don't want to order 10 nut drivers and get stuck with 9 of them on the shelf.....

Can anyone recommend a reputable mail-order (with web site) source for 3M nuts and this driver ?

Thanks for your help,

Alan