best way to make a connection

hickoryFebruary 26, 2010

I'm putting in "Outlet #1" very close to the circuit breaker box. I'd like to add other outlets to this same circuit.

Is it better to put in a junction box before Outlet #1, or is it okay to use the other pair of screws in Outlet #1 to add onto the circuit?

iow - is a connection via wire nuts better than a connection via electrical outlet?

Thanks!

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bigbird_1

The first device box can also serve as a junction box. To branch to another device box, you can use the second set of screws on the receptacle, or use wire nuts. The advantage to using wire nuts is that if receptacle #1 fails, it will not take down the rest of the circuit. The disadvantage to wire nuts is that it adds to box fill. There is no "better" connection. It's about what you expect from the circuit and your wiring preference.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:19AM
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greg_2010

How would a receptacle fail such that it would sever the connection between the two screws on the side of the receptable?
Have you actually seen the metal bar between the two screws burn away?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:35PM
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groundrod

If any of the four screws developes a bad (high resistance) connection, the downstream circuit will have stopped working. Yes I have seen the metal burned completely away, and it was usually from a load that was plugged in downstream of the bad connection.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:52PM
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greg_2010

Would that not have burned the wirenut away if it had been wirenutted instead of pass thru on the receptacle?

I guess I just don't see the "advantage" of wirenuts over using the screws. It seems like exactly the same thing to me.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:12PM
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randy427

I've never seen the side screws fail on a 15 or 20 amp circuit except when the receptacle had been damaged or the screws weren't properly tightened.
YMMV

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:21PM
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groundrod

Never mind, you guys are right, I would just backstab it and let it go at that.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 4:01PM
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Billl

I would say it is good practice to use as few junction boxes as possible.

Re: future failure - I'd rather have a circuit fail at someplace really easy to find (like an outlet) than anywhere else.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 4:11PM
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hickory

I went ahead and put in a junction box and wire nuts. This is in a basement with open joists, and the box is going to be even easier to deal with than the outlet for any future maintenance or adding another wire.

Thank you for your insights - much appreciated.

Hickory

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 5:05PM
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brickeyee

"Never mind, you guys are right, I would just backstab it and let it go at that."

THAT is a lousy connection.

Back wire devices that use a screw and pressure plate are very reliable, as are wrapping around a screw and securing.

The actual torque specs for screws are surprisingly high.
You are making a gas tight connection and deforming the copper wire.

The back stab spring connections are a notorious source of failure.
Initially they were allowed on #14 and #12 wire.
The holes are now to small for #12 and only allow #14.

I will not use them even for #14.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 6:42PM
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joed

Use the screws. That is why they are there. Wire nuts are just another point of failure.
Also if you are in Canada wire nuts count towards box fill. You could need a larger box because of using wire nuts.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 7:16PM
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bigbird_1

""Never mind, you guys are right, I would just backstab it and let it go at that."
THAT is a lousy connection."

I believe groundrod was being sarcastic. At least I hope so.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:21PM
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groundrod

Yeah; I knew I was obviously unqualified to argue this one with the experts.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 11:39AM
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bigbird_1

"Yeah; I knew I was obviously unqualified to argue this one with the experts."

Hey groundrod. You're not alone. Even when one is right, every "expert" will contradict you and say you're wrong. I shrug it off and laugh at the guys who inhabit this and many other forums with nothing better to do than criticize anything and everything.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 7:27PM
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greg_2010

I don't claim to be an expert. My question was an honest question. What do you mean by a receptacle failing?

Do you mean that, in your opinion, a wire under a screw on a receptable is more likely to come loose than three wires in a wirenut? Or is there some other type of failure that I am not understanding?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 11:09AM
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hendricus

Either one can come loose if not properly tightened. As for the receptacle failing, I've never had it happen. It was always the wiring coming loose.

It comes down to personal preference and what the local AHJ demands.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 11:50AM
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