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How To Connect Electrical Wires Safely Using Wire Nuts
Electrical safety is a must; when dealing with exposed wires, you need parts to cover them. Connecting these ends is possible with a wire nut, and knowing the safe way to use this tool is crucial. Use this guide and learn how to connect electrical wires safely using wire nuts.
What Is a Wire Nut?
A wire nut is a small plastic cap used to connect wires. Once connected, the wires remain bonded as the wire nut stays. Because of this strong bonding, each wire nut has a limited amount of times you may reuse it.
The plastic eventually loses its shape after many uses. Many electricians use these small caps as a permanent solution for connecting wires. Future electricians benefit from using wire nuts for electrical projects and carrying a few during training.
Types of Wire Nuts
There are five types of wire nuts, each with a different size and application for wires. Finding the different wire nuts is easy since each type has a different color.
The sizes associated with the colors may vary, with gray or red being the largest and blue or grey being the smallest. Larger sizes of wire nuts hold more wires and thicker cables.
Using the right wire nut is essential to ensuring the connection between wires lasts. The wrong wire nut could result in an electrical fire or loss of connection. Most wire nuts have certain wires that pair with them, such as the largest gray wire nut holding up to two 22AWG stranded wires. You can typically find a size chart and information about what wires work well with the part on the back of the wire nut’s packaging.
How To Use Wire Nuts
Wire nuts are popular in electrical work because of their straightforward application. Use wire nuts by taking two exposed cable ends and placing the wires inside. Make sure you don’t push the wires in too deep to avoid ruining the connection by bunching the wires in the enclosed space. However, you still want to ensure the wire nut covers most of the exposed end.
Once both ends are inside, squeeze the tip of the wire nut and twist at least three times. As the wires push together and twist, their combined mass grows and fills the wire nut, creating an enclosure that forms a connection. Let go of the wire nut’s tip and ensure it remains snug on the connection.
Tips for Electrical Safety
Regardless of your components, it’s important to handle electrical applications carefully. There are helpful tips every person should use when handling wires, electrical cables, or devices. Use these safety tips to avoid accidents that could be fatal or lead to serious injury.
Don’t Touch the Wires
Although electricity isn’t always running through wires, it’s best to avoid touching them altogether. Wires are the conductors of electrical cables, and the plastic jackets contain them.
When handling cables, hold them by the jacket to avoid touching the wires. If you ever need to touch the wires, ensure you have a barrier between your skin and the material. Use insulated rubber gloves when handling any electrical application that could be live. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in electrical work.
Make Sure the Wires Aren’t Live
Before approaching an electrical task, disconnect the power and ensure the wires aren’t live. A live wire has electricity flowing through it, which travels from the wire to your hand when you touch it. If you aren’t sure if the wire is live, test it with a voltage tester.
This affordable device is a non-contact method with a colored plastic end to apply to the wire. The device’s digital multimeter detects if there is a current running through the wire.
Avoid accidental electrocution by determining if a wire is live. Knowing the state of the wire and the devices attached allows you to avoid harming yourself while working.
Splicing Full Cables With Wire Nuts
Wire nuts are an excellent choice for bonding when you need to connect two intact cables. Ensure the cable isn’t connected to electrical power sources to avoid working with live wires. Strip the cable jacket back far enough that at least a couple of centimeters of wire show when you place it in the wire nut.
Once you strip both cables, you’ll need the right wire nut for the application. If the cables have a significant amount of wires or particularly thick wires, you’ll need a larger wire nut for the splice.
Perform the method previously mentioned for using a wire nut and ensure the cap fits snugly. Splicing cables is easy with Polymer Molding Inc.’s RC series electrical connector protector, which provides an effective connection that will remain intact for years.
Why Wire Nuts Are the Best Choice
Wire nuts aren’t the only options for connecting wires, but they are among the best. Other applications, such as tape or soldering, aren’t as effective and lack certain benefits that wire nuts provide. Understanding the differences between these applications makes choosing the best choice for joining wires easier.
Compared to Tape
Electrical tape is another easy method of securing wires together, but it has many risks. The tape may lose its adhesion due to excessive moisture or heat, causing the wires to loosen and disconnect. The connection may not be as strong as wire nuts because the adhesive tape does not keep the wires as tight.
Instead, use electrical tape to cover exposed wires while relying on wire nuts to ensure the connection remains stable. Wrap electrical tape around the exposed wires that aren’t in the wire nut to ensure the connection is safe and secure.
Compared to Soldering
The hot metal bonding of soldering is a delicate process in electrical work. It’s possible to solder wires together, but it’s often a rare method given its downsides. The heat of the solder could damage the cable jacket and ruin the insulation that protects the wires.
The permanent bind between wires also limits the possibility of reusing the wire ends for another purpose. The ends of the cables would need servicing afterward, which would shorten the remaining cable length.
Wire nuts are reusable and maintain a strong connection between the joined wires. Use wire nuts for a simpler application that doesn’t require a tool.
Wire nuts are excellent for electrical safety and boast many benefits. Now that you know more about connecting electrical wires using wire nuts, you’re ready to create more reliable connections.
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