Stranded wire connections

Old 12-22-03, 09:56 AM
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Stranded wire connections

When using stranded wire, in my case 12/3, what is best way to connect to screw terminal on a duplex outlet? I eventually used a duplex similar to a “backstab’, but uses a screw to tighten a plate onto the wire. This is a garage workbench with 6 outlets about every 2 feet and alternating phases. Original wiring was 14/2; I had to pull stranded wire through the existing PVC conduit to make the bends. Original wire was removed with great difficulty. I had trouble wiring to screw terminals on GFCI’s because of box depth. When I tried using crimp connectors, it put too much mechanical stress on the GFCI when I screwed it down. That relates to next question.

To avoid the price of a GFCI panel breaker, can you install a GFCI duplex outlet within the main breaker panel, protected by a standard breaker? The breaker would open the circuit on over current, while the GFCI duplex would open the circuit on a ground fault. I could drill a hole to access the test and reset buttons, and cover the hole with a swiveling plate. No laughter allowed!

Concerning the small tab on a duplex outlet that is broken off to separate the phases if you want to: Is that rated for the downstream load current? In other words If the outlet is rated at 20amps, the break-off tab is also rated at 20amps? The tabs look much thinner than the 12gauge wire.

Lastly, I did not yet replace the 14/2 wiring that services the garage door opener, powered by a duplex in the ceiling wired to one of the workbench boxes. It would be a difficult pull. I know its wrong but???
Old 12-22-03, 10:27 AM
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You cannot use a GFCI outlet to protect a multiwired circuit in the manner you have described. Everything after the GFCI outlet would have to be separately wired circuits, in other words, you would 2 hots and 2 returns (plus a ground), not to mention two GFCI outlets.

If you are going to run a multiwire circuit, then use a proper GFCI breaker.

However, I also question the use of stranded wire. What size breaker is this?

As for leaving the garage door openers as 14-2, that is asking for trouble. I do not recommend mixing types of wire or wire size because later on someone may not know there is different wiore further downstream.

Regarding the outlets and the break off tabs. I'm not exactly sure what you are asking. If you intend to use the multiwire circuit you described, your neutral connections must be pigtailed.

I suggest you start over and explain everything you want to do, and how you think you want to do it. You will find that you cannot do some of the things you want to do.
Old 12-22-03, 11:22 AM
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If you're running a shared neutral circuit (only 3 wires) you'll need to use a GCFI double pole breaker (i.e. expensive). Trying to put two GCFI outlets will not work as the neutral current won't match the hot wire current.

I'm not a big fan of stranded wires. A properly installed conduit should not pose any great difficulty in pulling/pushing solid wire. If you have the stranded, I would install a short (4-6") of solid wire to make the final connection to the outlet. Use a wirenut to connect the stranded to the outlet.

Unfortunately it's fairly common to have different gauge wire on the same circuit. It's more or less ok if the breaker is not changed, but it's always a temptation to "upgrade" the breaker if the wire is larger.

In my present house I've found both 14 and 12 gauge wires in the same circuit "protected" by a 20A breaker. The last 10' of the wire was 12 gauge, so the previous owner changed the breaker to 20A "just because". Had that circuit trully be used to capacity it would have probably just melted away.

Also, you can't install anything inside the panel. You can put a box and outlet outside if you want.

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