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Back-wire receptacle

Posted by rtscoach (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 2, 08 at 23:59

Hi,
I plan to replace some inexpensive receptacles with a high grade receptacle. The ones I am considering are Cooper Commercial Grade receptacles with back-wire connections. (See link below for product description.)

I plan to feed through the receptacle as opposed to pigtailing using #12 wire. From what I've read, the back-wire connection is a secure connection much like the typical screw terminal on most standard receptacles, and not known for the same issues at the weak back-stab connection on standard receptacles. Am I correct in this?

I just would like to confirm this before I place the order for two 10-packs! Thanks for any help in advance!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cooper Commercial Grade Receptacle


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Back-wire receptacle

I haven't used any back-wire "standard" receptacles yet, but I have installed a fair number of back-wire GFCIs.

[Please note: I do understand the difference between "back-wire" and "back-stab" and so does this OP. I hope everyone else does too, before this thread becomes innundated with a flood of indiscriminate horror stories about the old-style back-stabs.]

My first experience was comical, actually. I was determined not to back-stab the darned thing and persisted in trying to attach the wires to the screws. Well, they weren't very cooperative, when pulled out far enough to accommodate a #12 wrapped around them.

Heh, when all else fails, I read the directions. Silly me.

Based on experience-to-date, once I got with the program, my doubts subsided. Because you can torque them down with screws on top of the plate, I'm no longer especially wary of this connection method. Perhaps I should be, but it seems to me that it's a good way of connecting a receptacle without having to do any looping. It's almost as fast as the old backstabs, but with more assurance, IMO.

FWIW, and with only limited experience, that's my take. I'll be interested in reading the reports of others here.

- Tom


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

I agree Tom. Back wire connections are a secure, positive, method of retention.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

As electricians in Dallas, we use these receptacles all the time in residential and some commercial applications. We always loop around the side screws, never back wire which is a nice way of saying back stab. All GFCIs are back wired but that is a seperate issue as there are usually load and line wires. One of the more common posts on this board deals with back wired wires on regular and GFCI receptacles coming lose because they were no properly tightened down. Again, we never back wire regular receptacles.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

We...never back wire which is a nice way of saying back stab.

OK, so if I'm hearing you right, 'Red, you make no distinction between the old spring-friction "backstabs" and the newer high-end screw-actuated "back wire" receptacles?

One of the more common posts on this board deals with back wired wires on regular and GFCI receptacles coming lose because they were no properly tightened down.

Could you point us to one of those threads? If there's info out there, based on some solid sparky experience, that the screw-actuated back-wired receptacles have a problem history, I'm all ears.

- Tom


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

The receptacles referred to above are both "clamp-type back" & "side" wired. The "clamp-type back" wired is NOT the same thing as "back stab" wired.

If installed properly the "clamp-type back" is a very secure connection & much more robust than the "back stab" implementations.

However, I have seen in some cases the installer did not place the wire directly in the clamp-type back slot but was across the slot. That does not make for a good permanent connection.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Your method of connection is fine it is different than back stabbing which is not good. However i'm more concerned with you stating you don't want to pigtail instead feed thru. That is not a good idea, You want to pigtail then terminate under pressure plate.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

"You want to pigtail then terminate under pressure plate." Very presumptuous.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Buried deep in the recesses of the archives of device manufacturers are a torque spec for most (if not all) back wired devices. Absent having the screws tight enough these devices can cause problems as bad as the backwired type, especially with #12 wire. I've seen several where the wire stayed in the box when the device was removed.

I guess another fight to start is to say that if you don't torque the device screws to the manufacturer's specs you don't have a compliant installation.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Bus Driver what are you trying to say


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

"I guess another fight to start is to say that if you don't torque the device screws to the manufacturer's specs you don't have a compliant installation."

The regular side screws also have a torque spec.

The pressure plate back wired are just as good as lopping the wire around a screw, and for stranded wire they are prob ably more likely to result in a long term solid connection.

I cannot count the number of times I have seen stranded wires forced out from under a side screw termination.

The Cooper devices are very good.
Many even have covers to placate the 'tape around the receptacle' crowd.

The case of them at work is running a little low.
Probably time to order another.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

I didn't realize they also had traditional screw terminals. In that case I'd prefer to just loop around the screw.

dave007700:
I'm not sure why you're so concerned with regards to pigtail vs feed-through. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but when properly installed I know of no safety issues with either method. I have rather small boxes in my 1959 home, so I find it preferable to feed-through rather than cramming in two splices... especially considering it's wired with #12.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Back wired receptacles are not designed to have the wire looped around the screw. They are designed to have the wire clamped. When properly installed, they are as secure, if not better secured, than looping around the screw.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

When you feed thru as you described it's called daisy chaining and i believe a code violation. The problem is, when one receptacle goes bad the rest on the circuit goes bad. when pigtailing you won't have that problem.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

When you feed thru as you described it's called daisy chaining and i believe a code violation.

Rather than merely chanting tribal belief and lore, could we have a code cite please?

This is nonsense.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Tom i don't know if you have ever worked in the field or not, but daisy chaining is old school and for the last 15 years i have not seen anybody do that type of install. Like i said i'm not sure if it's a code violation or not it's just not the way me or the other 800 electricians i know install them. You hook them up how you like if you can figure out how to. Your right i think it's comical you giving advise and you can't figure out how to terminate a recptacle without reading the directions. I guess that's where the terrible part comes in.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Daisy chaining is not old school. Maybe it isn't common practice where ever you are, but it is common practice in many areas.

when one receptacle goes bad the rest on the circuit goes bad

Have you actually seen this happen? A receptacle 'goes bad' and the feed through no longer worked?
I've heard this claim before, but when I asked if they have seen it happen, they never have. And when prompted to explain what could possibly happen that would cause the feed-through to no longer work, they have never come up with a answer. That is, other than a loose connection (which can happen with pigtails too).
I'd love an explanation.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

The only time we pig tail is when three sets of romex come into a receptacle or if we are installing a duplex receptacle. The remainder of the time we pass both sets of romex wires through each receptacle. We ALWAYS use the side screws. That's us. The rest of you can back mount or daisy chain or whatever. BTW, it's always a lot of fun to wire receptacles with 12/2.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

My local jurisdiction does not allow daisy chaining. I think that's nuts, there are situations where it is much better.

I think someone got confused by the requirement to pigtail the neutral in a multiwire circuit and turned that into a requirement to always pigtail.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Dave,

I'm not a licensed electrician but I can say that I've worked in the field, at least peripherally. I've acted as my own GC in building and renovating six houses as personal investments & residences, I've partnered with an architect/GC to build spec houses and I've also partnered with my sister, who is a GC.

I've wired three new houses from scratch but, more important with respect to your question, I've been the one working the final punchlist a bunch of times with new residential building, additions and renovations.

While that's not be the same as working day-in/day-out as an electrician (and I don't pretend that it is), it's not a bad vantage point for viewing the work of electricians, including the errors they're apt to make. It also means that my final fixes and repairs have often attracted direct scrutiny by inspectors, because they are, by definition, targeted items in final (re-)inspections. And since it's been my money on the line, I've also been the one who's left arguing with inspectors over something seemingly trivial that's going to cost me more than a few bucks to fix.

As a result, I know a good bit about plumbing, HVAC, concrete, carpentry, structural engineering, roofing, architecture and commercial law, although I don't represent myself as a qualified professional in any of those fields.

I've wired several hundred receptacles and you've probably wired many thousands. But there's a such thing as a learning curve, too. You learn the most from the first box, a little more from the second and essentially nothing between your 500th and 501st.

What is it they say about the difference between having 10 years experience and having one year's experience 10 times?

I have the utmost respect for the really competent professional electricians out there--the ones who keep up with their continuing education, the ones who have the actual code down cold (as opposed to what someone told them 10 years ago), and especially those who know why certain practices are unacceptable or superior to others.

There are a handful of sparkies here on this forum who pass those tests with flying colors and that's why I like reading the posts here. It's also why I don't mind in the least being corrected by the seasoned pros when I'm wrong. I'm here to learn and, with respect to advice, to do no harm.

It's not mere speculation on my part that some competent electricians prefer to through-wire receptacles (call it "daisy-chaining" if you like) rather than pigtailing each one. I've seen it with my own eyeballs, and recently, too. If anything, I think it may be getting more common rather than less common, but I have too small a sample to draw that conclusion with any confidence.

I am duly impressed, though, that you can speak for 800 electricians. You've certainly got me there. I've only worked with maybe a couple of dozen over the course of forty years.

A decade or two ago, it seemed the general thinking was that, when installing cheap 15amp receptacles on a 20amp circuit, it was all but mandatory to pigtail to ensure full 20amp through-flow, but that's no longer the common wisdom because 15amp receptacles are now explicitly rated for 20amp wiring compatibility.

And, sometimes, the sparky doing the rough-in doesn't know for sure the exact fixture that will be used later on, so pigtailing leaves the box ready for quick connection to more possibilities--it's arguably a more complete preparation. A DIYer just adding a receptacle or two, on the other hand, is more likely to do the entire job in a single work session. That, too, may influence slight variations in wiring.

If I'm too stupid to figure anything out for myself without directions, and if I don't drive around with a copy of the code in my truck, that's all the more reason it isn't helpful to come to a forum like this and have so-called qualified electricians tell me that something is code when it isn't.

You will note, I hope, that in my initial post in this thread, I went out of my way to note my limited experience with respect to this issue and said--in all sincerity--that I was interested in reading about other members experience.

Jes sayin...


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

" I guess that's where the terrible part comes in."

You know, Dave, you've come onto this board recently, told me to "go f myself", insulted people who have been respectfully posting here a lot longer than you have, and you expect us to take you seriously. I think you'd better park your attitude and either contribute positively or else just sit back and read other's posts. Like it or not, licensed electrician or not, you haven't been too constructive or enlightening.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

I'm not always sure what people mean by licensed this or that. To begin, at least in the electrical trade, there are various levels of tests, most commonly journyman and master. The master test, at least in Texas, really involves knowledge and proficency in commercial and some industrial work. There's actually not that much on the test that pertains to most residential work. In our jurisdiction, it requires a masters license to pull a permit. The other license we have is that of an electrical contractor. Now, the really stupid thing about that is you need an electrical contractor's license for every city/jurisdiction in which you do work and those licenses have to be renewed every year. We are also bonded and insured which is not cheap. What we refer to as the Dallas/Ft.Worth Metroplex is comprised of 25 incorporated cities. As a result, we do 95% of our work in Dallas. Now, this really has nothing to do with the original OP post but rather I am responding to the post of terribletom who really had to pass nothing to do electrical work.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

ditto what bigbird says


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

I appreciate everyones input and opinions! What I thought was a simple question has turned into quite the debate! I guess things are never as simple as they seem-- especially when you have many contradicting opinions!

Dave wrote:
The problem is, when one receptacle goes bad the rest on the circuit goes bad.

I don't see this as an issue at all. If a receptacle fails, the first thing to do from a logical and safety standpoint is shut off that circuit-- and it's not going to be switched back on till the problem is located and corrected. I'm not about to plug in anything upstream from a failed device, this seems to go against all common sense.

Second, I think its very rare that a properly installed, quality receptacle does fail. The Hubble receptacles in my kitchen date to 1959... 49 years without failure.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Well it looks like big bird and the big clues bunch to the rescue. I don't see you pulling qoutes from your buddy terrible tom. it seems like the same group trying to run this site. I have tried to contribute and if you read the thread you will see. I take offense when terrible tom with no real experience in the electrical industry tells me my post is nonsense. I have never been taught to daisy chain and although some folks do, i have never been trained that way. Also, this is an electrical wiring forum not a electrical engineering forum. i gave my input like everyone else and did not say anything bad untill i received these sarcastic remarks. There is more than one way to skin a cat and you may not agree, but because you don't agree doesn't make that a bad install. If you want to preach code look up the part about qualified personnel. As a matter of fact Big bird you didn't know anything about harmonics and acted like i was wrong, did you learn anything. maybe it's your group that needs to listen a little and stop stroking your ego. As for terrible tom what a resume it still doesn't qualify you as an electrician. I paid my dues with a 10,000 hour apprentice ship and also hold my masters license. I don't preach that i'm this code guru. but do take pride in my work and try to give the customer the best possible job i can. Also i have been on jobs with over 800 electricians on one job, so that should tell you something about the scale of the job. As for the original question about daisy chaining i have seen them go bad especially when wired with aluminun due to the expanding and contracting. most of the time you won't have a problem. But if you do, you don't want all the other recptacles down the line to be dead. install how you want but pigtailing is my preferred method.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Rtscoach by all means it's your house, hookem up with the method you prefer i was just giving my opinion. Nobody forsees a problem but receptacles sometimes fail either to being installed incorrectly or a device plugged into them causes the failure. Sometimes you know theres a problem right away sometimes you don't. With the age of your home who knows how many receptacles are wired on one circuit, , but say your freezer with all your precious meats are downstream and your on vacation, say goodbye to the goods.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Hey, guys. It isn't about who is right. It is about WHAT is right.

Usually the discussion gets to the point where the right answer is known if everybody stays cool and contributes their knowledge and experience without insults.

The right answer often is a combination of finding the exact code references, electrical engineering knowledge of the reasons that got into the code, and experience of how the AHJ usually interprets it in vairous localities.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Dave, I am also pretty new to this site, and am in NO WAY an electrician. I am a DIY'er. I can speak from experience that people who don't know what they are doing will 9 times out of 10 take the word of someone who does. When you tell someone that "daisey chaining is a code violation... i think" tells me 2 things: that you are unsure of codes and should really take a look at the training you recieved as an apprentice; and that the person you are giving the advice to is going to believe pig tailing is the only way allowed and therefore will limit their options on what they can do.

All the recepticles in my house are wired through, and I have never had one fail. And like it was stated above by another poster, if one does fail, then the circuit has to be turned off anyways to replace the receptacle.

I have made my mistakes here where I stated something as fact and it wasn't true. When pointed out by the professionals here, I did not get sarcastic or start name calling.

Just go with the flow, dude. This is a great place. Let's not ruin it.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

When the discussion of licenses comes up I am always curious if any or how many older licensed people got their license through a "grandfather clause". I know that at least one of the states (and I would bet there are more) didn't require licenses until the 1960's. When the requirement came in, a person just had to sign an affadavit saying that they had been doing elect. work for so many years...no testing. But, they were reqired to attend update classes each year to keep the license, but were not tested on the material covered in the classes.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Davie boy must live with a halo as folks coming onto the forum with his attitude and use of language usually find all their posts gone and no ability to make new ones.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

"As a matter of fact Big bird you didn't know anything about harmonics and acted like i was wrong, did you learn anything. maybe it's your group that needs to listen a little and stop stroking your ego."

Yes Dave you're right about fluorescent harmonics. Being a licensed amateur radio operator I'm very familiar with RF harmonics. Yes, I learned something about harmonics being produced from fluorescents.

For you to go make a statement that daisy chaining is old school, you haven't seen it done in 15 years, and it possibly being a code violation is just plain iuninformed. Did you bother looking in your code book and clarifying your own speculation? No. Then you absolutely insult terribletom because he called you on your daisy chaining code violation. Why did you have to insult him? Why didn't you say "I'll check the code as I think it might be a violation".

I don't think I'm stroking my ego. I'm sorry if you do. I have been emailed many times by readers of this forum asking for specific electrical help. If I can help, I do. If I'm unsure, I either look it up or respectfully tell the person that it's beyond my scope. Stroking my ego? No. Helping others? Yes.

All you've been doing is making some absurd statements and then going on the verbal offensive when someone calls you on it. Can't you contribute positively?


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

To the extent I've helped fan a flame war, I apologize to everyone here. That surely wasn't my purpose.

The way I see it is that this is a DIY-oriented forum. There are other forums--Mike Holt's restructured site, for example--that are more suitable for the pros to hash out code interpretations and argue the nuances of harmonicity. (Not that I wouldn't want to learn more about harmonicity, btw.)

This forum could have been framed in a way that limited replies to professionals only, and discouraged participation by other DIYers. But it wasn't. And therein lies one of the strengths of this place, IMO.

So why should someone who's not a licensed electrician participate in the discussions at all? Well--and I might be way off base here--I think there are some potential advantages to a mix of replies, so long as the result is good advice.

FWIW, I'll try to explain my position.

In more than a few of the threads here, I've seen non-pros come along with comments or observations that improve the overall discourse for its intended purpose. Sometimes they offer straight-up practical advice that the sparkies don't have time to flesh out. Sometimes they expose, if inadvertantly, a practice that may have pitfalls for DIYers and needs to be corrected or qualified. Sometimes the DIYers "hear" the OP's question in a different light. And sometimes, damnit, the DIYers correct something a sparky has said.

A collegial mix of pros and amateurs, IMHO, is conducive to maintaining the type of forum in which a DIYer feels comfortable asking questions and getting sound information. Comments like this one have exactly the opposite effect:

Rtscoach by all means it's your house, hookem up with the method you prefer...

[The good news is that I'm certain that it is obvious to everyone who's been kicking around here that Rtscoach is far from a reckless idiot and I'm pretty sure it isn't going to destroy his ego (meant in the kindest of ways).]

In trying to fit in here, I've been trying to place emphasis on communicating with the OP. Sometimes that means asking more questions about the problem. Sometimes that means taking the time to write very simplified instructions. A sparky comes by and says "inspect box #2 for miswiring". I follow up and say, "OK, that means that you should check to see if the white wires are on the silver screws and the black wires are on the brass screws." Sometimes, when I have reasonably high confidence in what I'm saying, I'll answer the question, subject always to subsequent scrutiny.

Am I trying to compete with the sparkies? No way. At least that's not the way I look at it.

Sometimes I watch a sparky drop in, give a quick answer that is exactly right from a technical perspective, but I sense that it is unlikely that the OP will understand it fully.

Still other times, it's pretty clear to me that the pro hasn't read the OP thoroughly, because part of the answer is contradicted by a fact given in the post that might have been missed.

Then there are times that I'm throwing out a strawman--strictly from a DIY perspective--to be refined or refuted.

The point is, I believe that a mixed dialogue and discourse is healthy for the forum, and we can all learn from it. I just don't see it as a who-has-the-biggest d**k kind of thing.

I'd feel quite differently if I thought a lot of bad advice was coming out of this forum because of incompetant DIY advice--and there are some forums where I believe that is exactly the case.

But does that happen often here? I don't think so. On the contrary, I'm impressed by the extent to which problems tend to be worked through until an authoritative answer is found or a correct consensus is reached. Sometimes the consensus is not a single doctrinaire answer (take "pretwisting", for example or, as here, "daisy chaining"), but rather a pretty good summary of where the options and the merits lie.

Look, guys, I'm still fairly new here compared to the folks who have been around for years, and I'm still trying to find my legs too.

But, FWIW, I like the dynamics here and I think that a mix of pros and amateurs is good for everyone concerned. YMMV.

And, oh yeah, back to basics:

From billhart: Hey, guys. It isn't about who is right. It is about WHAT is right.

And, perhaps easily missed in the shuffle, is this nugget from one of big bird's comment: Helping others? Yes.

Sigh.

- Tom


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

Tom - - I see 2 unnecessary posts here. All you (we) need to do is just ignore the posts from one individual and things are back to working like the well oiled machine we've had here for years. I see nothing for you to explain or apologize for.

If enough folks complain on the forum abuse report area the problem will disappear.


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RE: Back-wire receptacle

I have to tell you Dave, I'm tired of your attitude. I enjoy this site. I learn a lot from it. I'm about to go spend my time on another site and leave this one to you to spout your dribble. If you can contribute positively, please do. If not, please go away and leave this forum to those who have taken it upon themselves to contribute their valuable time to those of us that need it and appreciate it.


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