Pigtail Wiring Basics

a person connecting wires coming out from a wall
  • Beginner

When it comes to pigtail wiring, many people are often confused about even the basics. Here are a few things that you will want to keep in mind as well as a few guidelines to help you while working.

What is Pigtail Wiring?

Pigtail wiring is basically used when you have more than just one wire that needs to be connected to a component or device. Basically, a wire is used to connect several wires together in order to keep the number of wires down, a clean area, and allow everything to be hooked up efficiently. Another reason that pigtail wiring is used is to extend the length of wire. If one is too short for a device, you can use pigtail wiring to make it longer. Many times there are regulations on the size of wire that is being used. Typically you will need to have a minimum of 6 inches of wire when you are hooking up pigtail wiring.

Tools Used

wire nuts holding together a group of wire

There are a few tools that are necessary when you are working on a project that entails pigtail wiring. Some of these tools include wire strippers, linesman pliers, and scrap pieces of wire. The main thing to point out is that you will need to use that type of pliers specifically for this type of project. The wire strippers are extremely important because before you begin, you will need to make sure that you strip off almost an inch of the insulation. Once you are finished with the process, you will also need a wire nut and cutters so that you can make sure they are all the same length on the bottom and that they are secured together. Making sure that none of the bare copper wire is sticking out is important when it comes to the wire nut.

Things to Keep in Mind

The first thing that you want to keep in mind, whether you are a professional or a beginner, is to shut off the power to the area completely. Then, once you have shut the power off, double-check it with a tester to make sure. This is a serious step that should not be ignored as it will cause harm to you as well as the wiring and components if you skip it. Also, check with local building codes when doing any type of wiring. You want to make sure that it is allowed and that you will not end up damaging your home's wiring system or any device. Finally, you may want to try and choose one color wire to stick with each device and wire that you are hooking up together. This will allow you to work with ease and reference them later if there is a problem.

These steps should get you started when working with pigtail wiring. Be sure to contact a professional if you feel as though the project is larger than you have time or expertise to handle.