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I've been an electrician for over 30 years. For the most part, my electrical field of play has been in the commercial and industrial arena. I've worked with conductors both great and small. One thing I've learned is that a properly secured connection matters. Big time.

Cable and Conductor Fittings and Connectors

Steve Maurer, IME
I've been an electrician for over 30 years. For the most part, my electrical field of play has been in the commercial and industrial arena. I've worked with conductors both great and small. One thing I've learned is that a properly secured connection matters.

Big time.

The consequences of a poor connection range anywhere from signal loss to loss of property from overheating. A loose terminal screw or incorrect wire nut, even a bad solder joint are common culprits.

But whatever the situation, good connections matter.

For three decades I've wired in motors ranging from small cabinet cooling fans to fractional horsepower motors to the big boys, 250 horsepower and up. And I know, as you probably do as well, that a tight connection isn't the only ingredient in the conductor fitting mix.

I was taught by an old school master when it came to larger horsepower motors. Connections to the line conductors to motor leads were normally made with crimped lugs bolted to the motor leads. The winding connections were made in a similar fashion.

He was a stickler on connection insulation. Cambric or fiberglass tape went on first to dissipate heat and smooth any rough edges. It was followed by putty tape, overwrapped with linerless rubber tape, topped off with 600 volt electrical tape.

The result was a big ball of insulation at the end of each connection. And even with the conductor movement caused by the alternate heating and cooling of the wiring, the conductors were safe from shorting out.

Some might call it overkill … but I never had a motor connection failure in three decades.

Yes, the process took time. But it was worth it not to have fireworks shooting out of the motor's peckerhead … I mean … junction box.

But recent advances in conductor connection technology make wiring conductors and cables—both big and small—easier, faster and, in many ways, safer.

Not only that, but when you do have to change out a motor, it's faster, and easier on the hands. Believe me, I've had to cut many a behemoth ball off the motor leads, huffing and puffing, and sometimes cussing the most excellently insulated connection I'd made.

Set screw connections make wiring conductors and cable much easier, almost fun. Okay, maybe not fun. But sometimes I envision myself as a calf roper at the local rodeo, raising my hands at a record setting run.

The first such connectors I used were a black nylon-covered block made of steel or aluminum. With four ports—two for accepting the conductors and two for accessing the setscrew, a hex wrench made securing them tightly a fast operation. You capped the setscrew, and no taping was necessary (although I often put a wrap or two over the screw port cap for good measure).

The configurations available now are designed with easy connections in mind. For example, both single- and dual-entry are offered with two to fourteen ports, with conductor ranges handling #14 AWG up to 750 kcmil.

This makes them extremely useful for motors or any other type of splice you may have. For example, if you need to make a splice in a junction box, the dual-entry models mean you don't have to bend large cables to make the splice … they sit on opposite sides of the tap.

Straight inline connectors are also available to make strong, secure, yet smooth connections.

But the most interesting feature, at least to me, is that new brands are made with a transparent covering. This allows you to ensure the integrity of the splice through visual inspection. That way you know the cable is completely seated and no strands are extending beyond the metal in the connector.

And when doing routine inspections, you can make a visual check of the wiring.

Many come with a deoxidizing gel inside to prevent oxidation, and it can be replenished when the connector is reused. Did I mention they could be reused?

They can.

So by adding flexibility to field installations, corrosion and chemical resistance, and easy visual inspection capability, these conductor and cable insulated splicer-reducer connectors increase safety and reliability, decrease long term costs and are a boon to both inhouse crews and contractors.
Photo courtesy of ILSCO
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