GFCI Outlet Sidewire vs Backwire

bltgltAugust 3, 2010

I've always been told that it is dangerous to backwire an outlet. The best way of wiring an outlet was to bend the wire in a hook and screw it on instead of using the backwire connections. I've wired up four GFCI outlets, and I've noticed how hard it is to wrap the wire around the screw. The screws have a tendency to slide back in and not stay out like they do with a normal $.50 outlet. Because of this issue, it has often taken me an hour just to wire up one GFCI. Recently, I've read that GFCIs are actually designed for backwiring instead of hooking the wire around the screw. The directions to the ones I have used show the GFCI backwired instead of sidewired. I have always assumed that sidewiring was still much better. Is it wrong to sidewire a GFCI?

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There's a difference between back-wired devices and back-stab devices.
Back-stab devices allow the wire to be inserted in a hole in the back where it is then held in place by a spring-loaded clip (which you can't see). The back-stab retention system is no longer permitted to be used in many applications, including on circuits over 15 amps due to high failure rates of that electrical connection.
Back wired devices, on the other hand, are preferred to looping the wire around the screw (sidewiring), as when the associated screw is tightened after a wired is inserted, a backing plate clamps the wire into place for a secure, reliable and low impedance connection (it's faster and, electrically, at least as good). Your GFCIs are undoubtedly back wired devices.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 3:38PM
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Do they still sell the backstab junk?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 3:01PM
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They're still out there, supposedly only with the back-stab holes too small to accept anything larger than a #14 wire.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 12:44PM
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