Wire Splice and Electrical Wire Connectors Types

Wire Splice and Electrical Wire Connectors Types

Electrical wire connectors are also commonly referred to as wire splices which serve the essential purpose of joining two or more electrical wires to extend the length or repair damaged sections. There are several methods for how to splice wires together. The best choice of wire splice for your application depends on factors such as the type of wires being spliced, the environmental conditions, wire size, insulation type, current rating, and installation constraints. Each type of wire connector offers specific advantages and is suitable for different applications. There are two main wire splice and electrical wire connectors types: inline wire splice connectors and tap wire connectors. An inline wire splice connector joins two or more wires together end-to-end, while a tap wire connector connects a branch wire to a main wire.

Inline Splice Wire Connectors

An inline splice is an electrical connector that joins two or more wires together end to end. The choice of inline wire splice depends on several factors, including the wire gauge, the type of wires (solid or stranded), the application environment, and the desired level of reliability. For critical connections or applications where safety is paramount, twist lock plugin connectors, crimp, solder, heat shrink, cold shrink, resin, or molded rubber splices are generally preferred. For less critical applications or temporary connections, straight blade plugin connectors, tape splices, or twist on wire nuts® may be sufficient.

Twist On Wire Connectors (Wire Nuts®, Wing Wire, Spring, B-CAP®)

Twist On Wire Connector

Twist On Wire Connectors, sometimes called Electrical Wire Nuts®, are commonly used to connect two or more wires of the same gauge. Wire Nuts® typically feature a plastic or metal cap with threaded grooves. To use a Twist On or Wire Nut® Connector, simply strip the insulation from the ends of the wires, twist them together, and screw the cap onto the twisted ends. Electrical Wire Nuts® are easy to install and are suitable for both solid and stranded wires. A Wing Wire connector is a twist on wire connector with wings for easier twisting. A Spring Connector is a twist on connector with an internal spring for strong reliable connections. A B-CAP® Electrical Connector has a low-profile design with a funnel-shaped opening and a textured surface. The B-CAP® Electrical Connector features an expanding interior spring that provides a firm grip on the wires. B-CAP® connectors are generally considered easier to install than Wire Nuts®. They do not require any pretwisting, and their funnel-shaped design helps to guide the wires into the connector.

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Push In Wire Connectors (Wago® Connectors)

Push In Wire Connector

Push In Wire Connectors, sometimes called Wago® Connectors, feature a spring-loaded lever mechanism that securely clamps the stripped ends of the wires together. The cage opens and closes easily for reconnecting or removing wires. No additional tools are required for installation. Push In Wire Connectors or Wago® Connectors are suitable for both solid and stranded wires and are particularly beneficial for connecting multiple wires.

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Push In Wire Connectors (Wago®) vs Twist On Connectors (Wire Nuts®)

What is the difference between Push In Wire Connectors (Wago®) and Twist On Connectors (Wire Nuts®)? Push In Wire Connectors or Wago® Connectors have a plastic housing with slots or holes for inserting the wires. A spring-loaded mechanism inside the Wago® connector grips the wires when they are pushed in. Twisted Wire Nuts® have a threaded body and a metal spring inside. When you twist the nut onto the wires, the spring compresses and creates a secure connection. Wire Nuts® are cheaper than Wago® Push In Wire Connectors. Wire Nuts® create a more secure wire connection that can handle a high-vibration environment, whereas Wago® Push In Wire Connectors are more suitable for low-vibration environments.

Heat Shrink Splice

Heat Shrink Splice Kits and Connectors

A Heat Shrink Splice is a type of electrical connection covered by a heat-sensitive sleeve. When heated, the sleeve shrinks and conforms to the wire connection (typically a metal crimp connector, screw connector, or soldered wire connection) inside the sleeve, creating a water-resistant seal. Heat shrink splices are particularly suitable for outdoor or harsh environments.

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Solder Connectors

Solder Splice

Solder Connectors provide the most secure and reliable connection among wire splicing methods. Solder Splices involve soldering the ends of the wires together, forming a permanent bond. There are many benefits to solder connector splices. Solder Connectors are highly resistant to vibration, water resistant, corrosion resistant, durable, resilient to extreme temperatures, and have a high current-carrying capacity. For additional protection, a solder connector splice may also be insulated with a butt connector or a heat shrink solder sleeve.

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Screw Type Wire Connectors

Terminal Connector

Screw Type Wire Connectors have screws that clamp down on the stripped ends of wires, providing a secure connection. Screw Type Wire Connectors offer many advantages. They are easy to install and provide a secure connection, even in environments with vibration. Screw Wire Connectors can be used for a wide range of wire gauges and types, including solid copper, and stranded wires. Screw Wire Connectors are economical, temporary connections that allow the connection to be rewired without the need to replace the connector. Screw Wire Connectors have several different configurations. Screw In Butt Splices connect two wires by screwing each wire onto opposite ends of the metal connector. A Screw In Terminal Lug secures a stripped wire with a screw on one end and connects to a terminal.

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IDC U Connectors: UY Connector and UR Connector

UY IDC Connector

A UY Connector or a UR Connector is a "U" style, end-to-end butt splice connector commonly used in telecommunications and low-voltage electrical wiring. A UR or UY connector is typically made of metal or plastic with a colored housing and may have a gel-filled interior to provide additional insulation and protection from moisture. UY and UR connectors are typically IDC connectors which make the wire connection by penetrating the unstripped solid wire with sharp teeth. UY connectors can connect solid wires with a wire size of 19-26 AWG. UR Connectors are similar but accommodate larger wires.

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Twist or Tape Splice

Splicing tape, insulating, splicing jacketing

A Twist Splice, also known as a Rat-Tail Splice, a Western Union Splice, or a Pigtail Splice, is an electrical splice used to connect two or more wires together by stripping the insulation from the ends of the wires, then twisting together each ends of the wires, forming a junction. A Rat-Tail Splice simply twists the two stripped wire ends together. A Western Union Splice has a unique wire wrapping pattern that tightens as the wires are pulled apart. A Pigtail Splice uses an additional short piece of wire called a pigtail which is connected inline between the two main wires using twist connections. A Tape Splice insulates the twisted splice in splicing tape which also adds minimal physical strength to the connection. For a more secure connection, a twist splice can also be placed in a twist-on connector, a crimp connector, a solder connector, or put inside a junction box or electrical enclosure to protect the twisted wires from pulling apart.

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Splicing Tape vs Electrical Tape

How is Splicing Tape different from Electrical Tape? Splicing Tape is typically made of Ethylene Propylene Rubber, whereas Electrical Tape is usually made from vinyl. Splicing Tape rubber is a stiffer material that is strong, durable, and able to withstand high temperatures and electrical currents. The primary purpose of Splicing Tape is to splice two wires together, whereas the primary purpose of Electrical Tape is to insulate and protect electrical wires from moisture, corrosion, and physical damage. Electrical Tape is not suitable for splicing wires permanently.

Cold Shrink Splice

Cold Shrink Splice Kits and Connectors

A Cold Shrink Splice is a type of electrical connector that utilizes a pre-stretched sleeve to create a secure and water-resistant seal around spliced wires. Unlike heat shrink splices, cold shrink splices do not require external heat to shrink the sleeve. While a cold shrink splice may require more time to shrink fully compared to a heat shrink splice and may be susceptible to uneven shrinking if not installed carefully, the benefits of convenience and versatility often outweigh the drawbacks for many electrical applications. To make a cold shrink splice, first trim the ends of the wires and slide the ends of the cold shrink sleeve over the exposed ends of the wire. Twist the ends of the wire together, then pull out the inner core of the shrink sleeve ensuring that the cold shrink sleeve covers the entire splice area. The sleeve will automatically shrink and conform to the wires as the core is unwound.

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Resin Splice

Inline Resin Power Cable Splice Kit

Resin Splice Kits can be used to splice wires by connecting the wires inside a mold and filling the mold with resin. A Resin splice provides physical protection of connections. Because the Resin insulation around a splice is moisture-resistant, a resin splice can be used in both above-ground and direct burial applications.

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Molded Rubber Splice

Molded Rubber Splice Kits and Connectors

Molded Rubber Splice Kits and Connectors are insulated with molded EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber to provide a reliable connection. Some Molded Rubber Connectors can be rated for underground use and are submersible.

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Electrical Plug Connector

Wire Crimp Connectors

Wire Crimp Connectors or Compression Splices are solderless methods of connecting two or more wires. Wire crimp connectors are made of a metal barrel that is crimped around the ends of the wires to create a secure connection. Crimp connectors are commonly used in applications where vibration or movement is present. Crimp connectors require a crimping tool to securely attach the connector to the stripped ends of the wires. Many different types of crimp connectors exist, including butt connectors, ring terminals, spade terminals, and wire caps.

Butt Connectors

 Standard Barrel Length Butt Splice: Ideal For Limited Space Application

Butt Connectors, also known as Sleeve Splices or Butt Splices, are used to permanently join two wires of the same gauge size end-to-end. Butt Connectors have a cylindrical barrel, typically copper or brass, that slides over the stripped end of the wires. A Butt Splice Connector can be secured by crimping, soldering, or heat shrink to create a reliable connection.

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Ring Terminal Connector

vinyl insulated wire ring connector

A Ring Terminal Connector, sometimes called a Ring Terminal Lug, is a solderless crimp connector that is used to connect wires to screws or bolts. They have a barrel on one end to crimp around the end of the stripped wire. On the other end of the Ring Terminal Connector is a ring-shaped barrel with a hole in the center that is designed to fit over a screw or bolt. Terminal lugs are semi-permanent connections.

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Terminal Spade Connector

spade or fork terminal connector

A Spade Connector, also called a Fork Terminal Connector, is similar to a Ring Terminal but has a U-shaped hole instead of a circular hole. Spade Connectors are commonly used for making connections to battery terminals.

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Male Quick Disconnect Connector

vinyl insulated male disconnect connector

A Male Quick Disconnect Connector provides a reliable method for connecting wires that may need to be quickly disconnected when paired with a Female Quick Disconnect Connector. The Male Disconnect Connector has a barrel on one end to crimp around the end of the stripped wire. The other end of the Male Disconnect Connector has a metal male connector which must be inserted into the end of a compatible Female Disconnect Connector to make the connection between two wires.

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Female Quick Disconnect Connector

vinyl insulated female disconnect connector

A Female Disconnect Connector is a female solderless crimp connector that is used to connect wires that may need to be quickly disconnected. To use a Female Disconnect Connector, first, insert the end of a stripped wire into the barrel end of the connector and crimp it. Then, lock the female metal connector onto a compatible male connector to connect two wires. Quick Disconnect Connectors offer a reliable solution for splicing or joining wires in various gauges and applications.

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Crimp Wire Caps

Copper Slice Cap Crimp Connection

Crimp Wire Caps are solderless crimp connectors that connect wires through an end cap. Crimp Wire Cap connections are permanent wire connections.

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Types of Insulation for Crimp Connectors

The insulation on crimp splices plays a crucial role in protecting the connection from electrical hazards and environmental factors. Different types of insulation materials offer varying levels of protection and durability, catering to specific application requirements. Crimp connectors may be uninsulated, or insulated with nylon, vinyl, or heat shrink.

Nylon Insulation Butt Connectors

Nylon Insulated Butt Splice

Durable, cost-effective, and easy to install

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Vinyl Insulation Butt Connectors

Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice

Flexible, flame retardant, resistant to chemicals

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Heat Shrink Butt Connectors

Heat Shrink Butt Connector Splice

Water-resistant, ideal for outdoor applications

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Tools for Crimp Wire Connections

Telecomm Wire Crimper

Cutter, Stripper, and Crimper

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Crimping Pliers

Crimping Pliers

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Wire Stripper Cutter

Wire Stripper Wire Cutter

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Cable Cutter

Ratcheting Cable Cutter

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Hydraulic Wire Crimper

Hydraulic Cable Crimper

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Tap Connectors

A Tap Connector, also known as piercing splice, is used to connect a branch wire to a main wire without cutting the main wire. A Tap Connector is commonly used in situations where you need to add a new connection to an existing circuit without disrupting the flow of current in the main wire. There are many different types of tap connectors available, such as IDC (insulation displacement connectors), ScotchLok®, H-Tap Connectors, and multi-tap connectors. The type of tap connector you choose will depend on the specific application and the type of wires you are splicing.

Tap IDC Connector - Insulation Displacement Connector

IDC Insulation Displacement Connector IPC

An IDC (Insulation Displacement Connector) Tap, also known as an insulation-piercing contact (IPC), is an electrical connector where thin, precise teeth on the connector pierce the wire insulation to make electrical contact. Because the ends of the wires do not have to be stripped before inserting them into the connector during installation, IDC connectors can be faster to install. IDC connections are generally considered to be gas-tight. IDC connectors are commonly used with ribbon wire or telephone wire. IDC connectors can be used to "t" a wire into the middle of a long wire, connect parallel wires, or patch around a broken section of a longer wire.

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Multi Tap Connector

Multi Tap Connector

A Multi Tap Connector, also known as a multi-port connector, is an electrical connector that allows multiple wires to be connected to a single point. Multitap connectors are commonly used in electrical distribution systems to connect incoming and outgoing wires, providing an organized and efficient way to distribute power.

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H-Tap Compression Connector

H-Tap Connector

An H-tap connector, also known as an H-splice connector, parallel tap connector, or branch tap, is a type of electrical connector used to connect two or more wires to a single point, creating a parallel connection. It is commonly used in electrical distribution systems to tap into existing wires and add additional circuits or connections. H-tap connectors are typically made of aluminum or copper and feature a sturdy design that can withstand vibration and harsh environments.

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Warning: When using this information to perform electrical work, call a licensed electrician or consult the NEC® for safety. All licensed electricians have passed examinations covering the National Electric Code®, know state and local building codes, and may carry insurance to cover damages.