Terminate and Splice Connectors

How to Terminate and Splice Connectors

Terminating and splicing connectors properly not only ensures that a proper connection is maintained, it is vital to safety. In certain applications, various electrical codes may apply that dictate how connectors have to be spliced and connected to one another.


What are Connectors?

A connector is any device that joins to electrical circuits or more than two electrical circuits together. They may be used to transmit electricity itself or they may be used to transmit signals, such as audio or video signals. There is a huge number of different types of connectors available. These connectors have been developed over the years to allow for the connection of specific types of signals – AV connectors –  to allow a specific manufacturer's equipment to be more readily attached to other equipment – RCA connectors – and for many other purposes. Connectors can be provided with devices that allow them to be locked, which can prevent unauthorized people from being able to break the connection. They are also sometimes provided with crimp on features that make it possible to permanently affix them to a group of wires, making it very easy to connect and disconnect various pieces of equipment without having to do any wiring. Connectors also include terminal blocks, plugs, blades, rings, D-sub connectors and many other variations. These connectors are sometimes purpose specific – such as RF connectors used for transmitting radio signals – or are sometimes more generalized, such as spade connectors, which may be utilized to transmit data and even electrical power. Electrical connectors come in two varieties: male and female. The male and female designation refers to whether or not the connector is plugged into a jack or if it receives a connector.


How to Terminate Connectors?

Terminating connectors generally requires specialized equipment. For example, adding an RJ-45 connector to a Cat 5 cable requires a specialized crimper. Most modern connectors, in fact, do require a specific tool in order to crimp them properly and ensure a solid connection. Some connectors have a boot or another feature added to them after they are attached to provide extra protection. In the case of connections such as coaxial connectors, this protector may contain threads that are utilized to screw a male connector into a female receptacle. On heavy-duty, industrial connectors, having a threaded screw on the connector to provide additional stability is a very common feature. In cases where electricity is being transmitted over the lines, the connectors have to be terminated with great consideration given to safety. Some types of connectors make it possible for electricians to create connections between circuits very easily. For example, some of them only require that the electrician put the wire in a groove in a piece of metal and, upon fastening the connector shut, that metal automatically strips a portion of the insulation off of the wire, allowing for a solid connection. When connecting different types of circuits together, it's important to keep in mind whether or not the circuit carries power. Some connectors are designed to do this – such as USB connectors – and others quite simply are not designed to carry power.


How to Splice Connectors

Connectors that are made specifically to splice circuits together are typically a bit different than connectors with specific ends on them. Many of them simply receive two separate stripped wires and, upon closing, complete the circuit. These are usually referred to as tap connectors. There are also pigtail connectors, quick splice connectors and others, all of which require different splicing techniques. Quick splice connectors are sometimes referred to as ''vampire'' connectors, according to Bare. Most of the time, an electrician will strip some insulation off of the end of a wire and insert that stripped wire into the connector. The connector provides insulation, protecting users against shock and protecting the wire against the environment. Wiretaps are very common for the most primitive splices, consisting only of a hollow plastic shell with threads on the inside. The shell is placed over the top of the spliced wires and screwed down, which holds it in place and ensures an excellent connection. In cases where oxidization is a hazard, antioxidant compounds are typically added to the splice to ensure the safety of the wires and to ensure that the connection is not ruined by corrosion.


Overview of Available Terminals and Splices

There are so many different types of electrical connectors that it would be impossible to list them all. Below are listed some of the most common types in use today, along with a description of each of them.


Crimp Barrel-Foil Connectors

Crimp barrel-foil connectors securely cradle a wire inside them, preventing it from becoming detached. There is also a variation of this type of connector that can be utilized in the manufacture of transformers and that allows aluminum strips to be used instead of coiled copper wires.


Crimp Blade Terminals?

Crimp Blade terminals have a metal cradle into which stripped wire is inserted that is protected by a plastic or rubber insulator. On the other end of the connector, there is a Y-shaped terminal that can be affixed to a power source with a screw. These are commonly seen on electric lights and other household fixtures and are very common types of connectors. They are typically separated from one another by the gauge wire that they are designed to accept.


Crimp Bootlace Ferrules

Crimp bootlace ferrules have a single pin extending from the splice with a cradle on the other end designed to enclose the stripped wire. These are commonly used in applications

where power sources need to be plugged into an appropriately sized receptacle.


Crimp Bullet Connectors

Crimp bullet connectors are named because of the shape of the male connector version. Like bootlace and blade terminals, they have two pieces of metal into which stripped wire is inserted and which are bent together to enclose that metal, the entire apparatus being protected by an insulating material. On the other end, either a bullet shaped terminal or a receptacle designed to receive it is provided.


Crimp Butt Splice Terminals

Crimp butt splice terminals are used to join two pieces of wire together. These are typically pre-insulated devices that are designed to be used with wire in a way that prevents risk of electric shock. The ends of the wires that need to be spliced together are stripped and inserted into the opposite ends of the terminal. The terminal is then crimped down onto the wire, fastening the wires inside and providing a solid electrical connection.


Crimp Flag Terminals

Crimp flag terminals have a flat, rectangular shape on the end, from which they get their name. As is the case with most other types of terminals, a piece of spliced wire is inserted into one end and the other end consists of either a male or female terminal, which is used to join the lines together.


Crimp Piggyback Terminals

Piggyback terminals consist of a receptacle and a male connector in the same device. One wire is spliced into the device and, by using the attached terminals, one splice can be made to the male end of another splice and a second splice can be made to the female end of a third splice. These are separated by wire gauge, as are most connectors.


Crimp Pin Connectors

Crimp pin connectors are very durable connectors that are often used in industrial and military settings. The crimped end consists of a single pin, which can be hooked together with other pins or which can be inserted into an appropriate receptacle separately. These are inexpensive but very durable and flexible devices.


Crimp Quick Disconnect Terminals

Crimp quick disconnect terminals are utilized in applications when a splice may have to be taken apart quickly but where the actual splice needs to be kept intact. These typically have a flat shape to them, with two holes and can be connected to an appropriate receptacle. These can be used to create very sturdy, but temporary, connections.


Crimp Receptacles

Crimp receptacles come in a wide variety of different designs. They are generally mated with the appropriate connector to provide a secure connection. These can be designed to work with quick disconnect terminals or more permanent connections, depending upon the need. Some of these devices can accept multiple different types of mail connections


Crimp Ring Terminals

Crimp Ring terminals provide a solid ring connector that allows them to be connected to a multitude of different types of devices. In many applications, these are affixed to an electrical connection with a screw, which goes through the hole, with the wide end of the screw fastening the entire crimp down to whatever connector needs to be affixed to it. These are very sturdy and reliable types of connectors.


Crimp Spade Connectors

Crimp spade connectors come in different types, including quick disconnect types. These connectors are designed to make it easy to hook up electrical connections and, quite often, they are designed so that the wrong type of connection cannot be hooked up to a receptacle.


Crimp Tab Terminals

Crimp tab terminals are flat, rectangular terminals that can slide into either a permanent receptacle or a quick connect receptacle. These are very common types of terminals, owing to their versatile design and they're very low price.


Crimp Terminal Adapters

Crimp terminal adapters allow different types of terminals to be connected to one another. The term is also used as a catchall for crimp terminals by some manufacturers and some retailers. In most cases, it takes a specific type of receptacle to receive a specific type of connector, but adapters may be employed in cases where one or both cannot be changed.


Crimp Terminal Boots

Crimp terminal boots are used to provide insulation that protects the operator and the equipment from electrical current. They typically slide off of the terminal while the wire is being fastened into place and then are slid back into place over the top of the wire. Some, however, are permanently fixed in place. Most of the time, they are color-coded, which makes them easy to separate in complicated wiring systems. Plastic and various rubbers are used to make these insulating boots.


Crimp Terminal Covers

The term crimp terminal cover can be used interchangeably with the term crimp terminal boot, described above.


Crimp Terminal Kits

It's rare for electricians to only need to hook up one crimp terminal, so the crimp terminals typically come in kits. Crimp terminal kits include receptacles, the male end of the connection and the other tools needed. In the case of specialized types of terminals, crimping tools are also often included so that the electrician has everything they need to get the job done.


Push Wire Terminals

Push wire terminals are designed to make it easier for electricians to hook up splices. These only require that the wire be pushed into place, rather than being screwed into place, as is the case with most terminals. While this may seem like a small thing, for an electrician possibly doing hundreds of these a day, this small improvement can mean a lot less fatigue.


Screw Terminals

Screw terminals are very simple electrical connectors that utilize a screw to keep a wire in place. They come in designs that are intended to be used with all different types of terminals.


Solder Blade Terminals

Solder blade terminals are designed to be used with a soldered connection, rather than a crimped connection.


Solder Butt Splice Terminals

Solder butt splice terminals are identical to crimp Butt splice terminals, but require the electrician to solder the wire in place.


Solder Pin Connectors

Solder pin connectors are pin connectors that require the user to solder the connection in place.


Solder Ring Terminals

Solder ring terminals have a metal ring at the end, usually intended to be used with screw terminals. They are differentiated from crimp terminals in that they require the operator to solder the wire in place.


Solder Spade Connectors

Solder spade connectors provide a spade connection but require the user to solder that connection into place, rather than simply crimping it.


Solder Tab Terminals

Solder tab terminals require that the user solders the splice into place, rather than clamping it down with a crimping tool.