Pigtailing versus using terminal screws on receptacles

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-16-05, 07:46 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Pigtailing versus using terminal screws on receptacles

Hi all,

This one should be EASY for you guys.

Currently in my house, instead of the connecting both power in and power out wires to a mid-series receptacle, the installers pigtailed the wires so only one hot and one neutral are connected to the receptacle.

Does this conform to 2002 NEC?

Not sure if this is an alternate method or a bad shortcut. My wiring books say to connect all 4 leads (2 hot 2 neutral) to the corresponding spots on the receptacle (Line 1 and Line 2). The only advantage I can see to using the pigtails is a possible time savings (which makes me think it may not be allowed), but you end up with more wires in the box.....

Thanks!
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-16-05, 08:00 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Pigtails are required in some special cases, but probably not for the situation you describe. Either method complies with code, as long as this is not one of the instances where pigtails are required.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both setups.

Certainly using the screw terminals takes up less space in the box, and for this reason I prefer this method.

Using the screw terminals also lets you see that you have a solid connection, while using a wire nut means the connection is hidden inside the wire nut. This shouldn’t be an issue, but if you are new to wiring it could be.

Pigtails are, of course, needed when your number of wires exceeds the number of screw terminals.

Which method is faster depends on your skill level. Bending the wires to go around the screw takes time. But so does making and stripping a pigtail. However, if the pigtails are made up ahead of time (as most are for electricians anyway) the pigtail is already made.

The bottom line is that it's a personal preference in most cases.
 
  #3  
Old 08-16-05, 08:02 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
The pigtailing is the preferred method IMO and puts the receptacle in parallel. If you connect it with all four wires to the receptacle you place it in series to the wiring design and will cause everything down stream of it to lose power if a wire comes lose (not really a big worry though). Pigtailing allows only that one device to lose power in case of a fault and as a side note it is a heck of alot easier to put the receptacle back in the box with two wires connected to it instead of four.
 
  #4  
Old 08-16-05, 08:04 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Pigtailing is considered by many to be a superior, not a shortcut, method of connecting receptacles. But it doesn't do much for me personally.
 
  #5  
Old 08-16-05, 08:04 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
Personally, I think this is a preferable practice. If the device fails, the pigtails prevent downstream recepticals from being affected. It also makes it easier to install the receptical since there are only three wires connected directly to it rather than five.

I believe that, in a multiwire circuit, it is _required_ to pigtail the neutral wire.

Personally, I use the Ideal "Term-A-Nut" pigtails which integrate a wirenut with a 12 guage stranded pigtail that has a spade connector. Makes installation of a receptical a breeze...no crooked recepticals when done this way!

Only downside is a little additional crowding in the box, but I've not found it to be a problem.
 
  #6  
Old 08-16-05, 08:07 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Originally Posted by Roger
Actually the pigtailing is the preferred method and puts the receptacle in parallel. If you connect it with all for wires to the receptacle you place it in series to the wiring design and will cause everything down stream of it to lose power. Pigtailing allows only that one device to lose power and as a side note it is a heck of alot easier to put the receptacle back in the box with two wires connected to it instead of four.
I'm not sure that I agree with this statement. Certainly if a connection fails you will lose power to everything downstream when using the screw terminals. However, if a wire nut connection fails you may lose power to the receptacle in question, the down stream receptacles, or both. With most do-it-yourselfers, I think wire nut connections have a higher probability of failing than screw terminal connections.
 
  #7  
Old 08-16-05, 08:21 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
thanks for all the replies!

good to know there is one less thing for me to fix, and I appreciate the insight given on the two methods. since most of the wiring is already pigtailed and in the boxes (ready to install receptacles) I'm all to happy to roll with it.
 
  #8  
Old 08-16-05, 08:31 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Sorry Bob... I didnt mean to sound like I disagreed with you I edited that reply to sound less disagreeable. Your point is well taken and I suppose you may very well be correct looking at it from DIY point of view. The odds of a bad connection or wire coming lose is pretty far out there anyway. I would agree you are probably less likely to have that happen, wiring direct to the receptacle. And I have to agree wirenuts do pose problems for the inexperienced. At one time I was recommending those push in connectors to diyer's to eliminate the problem they have with wirenuts.
Hey have you seen this new idea from pass and seymour...http://www.passandseymour.com/ click on the plug tail design
They also are introducing receptacles that have intregal pigtails and you just wirenut to the pigtails. No big deal but interesting product
 
  #9  
Old 08-16-05, 08:50 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: CA
Posts: 2,041
If using receptacle with the infamous "backstab" connections, would it not be better to NOT use the backstabbers, and pigtail up to one side screw, if available?
 
  #10  
Old 08-16-05, 09:27 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You should never use the backstabs, whether or not you pigtail. That seems to be a separate issue.
 
  #11  
Old 08-16-05, 09:38 AM
Member
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 131
I think backwire receptacles are the way to go. Most can accomodate up to four condutcors.
 
  #12  
Old 08-16-05, 10:19 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Brethren, Mi
Posts: 1,648
I like pigtails and dont use thos crappy Scotch brad vinal wire nuts, I like Wing Nut I guess but I have strong hands so it doesnt make much difference. With solid if I really want to be secure I tighten until the wire makes a full turn outside the wire nut, its got a twist there too. I never pre-twist, lay them along side each other and tighten. I have seen loose wire nuts over the years, only a coupler of problems but they were put on by guys without a lot of muscle too. When I take one of mine apart it is a job.
 
  #13  
Old 08-16-05, 10:55 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: port chester n y
Posts: 2,117
With connection-leads, the "continuity" of the ENTIRE Branch-Circuit does not rely upon device-connections, and therefore is a superior connection-method.

As for "wire-nuts", they are the most comment type of connection because such connections at most outlet-boxes- switches, fixtues, etc,- are un-avoidable, and for certain types of receptacle-connections ,required.

So most wire-nut connections are necessary, while most receptacle terminations are not, and can be eliminated.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!!
 
  #14  
Old 08-16-05, 03:25 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 132
The downside of using pigtails is that you can miss a burried receptacle if you don't mark the floor or keep good notes of where your receptacles are. Of course this only applies to new construction and remodel jobs.
 
  #15  
Old 08-16-05, 08:55 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 995
I do a few residential remodels on the side, but by far our experience is in industrial applications.

Pigtailing is just about the only way we do it. We use boxes big enough to have the room and the installation as a whole goes much faster: run conduit, pull wire, make-up receptacles with tails, wait for drywall and paint, install devices...

Only having to pull three tails out of a mud ring, instead of all of them, is a tremendous time saver, more than what would be saved by not making up the boxes before the mud rings go on. Don't work much with those plastic boxes, might not be as significant...

And ALL types of connections can be done right, or done wrong: wirenuts, wagos, screws; we've seen it all used and abused.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes