Can I plug all my wires into a backwired outlet?


Old 01-07-07, 02:44 PM
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Can I plug all my wires into a backwired outlet?


I'm remodelling my basement and my helpful wife suggested I upgrade the 15amp lighting & outlet circuit so that the outlets are all on a new 20amp branch circuit and the lighting stays behind on the existing 15amp circuit.

No problem, I hard can it be?

Not too hard, it turns out, except I'm stuck at this one last part. Any help is greatly appreciated.

The problem I have is that the 12/2 coming from the circuit breaker to the "ring" of outlets enters the "ring" in the middle. In otherwords, I've got 5 outlets and the outlet in the middle not only connects to its neighbor to the left and its neighbor to its right, but it also needs to connect to the wires coming from the circuit breaker.

From the looks of it, it seems as though all the screws and backwire plates are all connected on the "hot" side of the outlet and all the screws and backwires plates are all connected on the neutral side of the outlet.

This would leave me to believe that I could just backwire all 3 pairs of wires into my outlet. It has 4 pairs of holes in the back, plus the standard 2 screws on each side, so there's room to do what I'm thinking. Having read a lot of the other posts on this board, it sounds like I'm in good shape because I have the kind of outlet that is *not* a "back stab" outlet but is, instead, a backwire outlet that I can screw the plates down into the wires.

Is this legal? Advisable?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-07-07, 02:57 PM
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legal yes
advisable no

why not just use a couple wire nuts and scrap bits of wire and make pig tails to go to the recepticle in the box where the cables all come together..
Old 01-07-07, 03:24 PM
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Dude, pigtail it. Trust me, easier, and you won't worry at night
Old 01-08-07, 11:32 AM
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Quick follow up...

So, sorry to be dense, but you guys are recommending that I pigtail all those wires in the back of the outlet box?

Is it a "rookie move" to run a wire from the circuit breaker to a junction box first, split the line into 2 lines and then run one line down one side of the wall and the other line down the other side of the wall? It'd be easier and less cramped for me, but I don't want to earn the rath of the to-be-scheduled electrical inspector...;-)
Old 01-08-07, 11:39 AM
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It is legal. It will work. It might be hard to stuff back into the box. The gorund will need to be nutted.
Old 01-08-07, 04:45 PM
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Calculate the box fill in this 'middle of the run' box; you have lots of conductors there, and there are some minimum requirements. When in doubt, use a bigger box. It will make your life easier.

With these 'back wire' receptacles, it is generally legal fine to use the holes in the back of the receptacle as a splice. The only time that it violates code is when you have a shared neutral circuit, in which case the shared neutral is not permitted to depend upon the device and _must_ be spliced with a pigtail.

The real problem using the backwire holes to make a big splice is that you now have a large mess of wires to push back into the box all at once. Ugly and difficult unless you carefully arrange and pre-bend the wires.

My personal preference: when using _solid_ wire, I make pigtails. When using _stranded_ wire, I use the 'back wire' holes for the splice if I can. This preference is based on the fact that the pressure plates deal with stranded wire _very_ nicely, and at the same time the stranded wire is very flexible and easy to get into the box.

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