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Old 05-22-2008, 12:25 PM   #1
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Wago terminals for residential line-voltage connections


Ok, JRClen talked in another post about the difference between back-wired and back-stabbed receptacle connections. I wanted to comment but didn't want to hi-jack or send that thread OT. Basically, John mentioned the following:

...you are confusing the back stab with the back wired like Jimmy said. Most of us who do this for a living really like the back wired devices where the wire is not looped but is clamped tight with the screw. Those give a good connection and are fast. You learn to tip them to open the clamp.

The slip in back stab type where the wire is pushed in to a spring type clamp are best wired by looping the screw. Someday I think back stabs will be prohibited by code. They already are in some local and state codes. Missouri I believe prohibits back stabbing.

Well, I think that most would agree that terminating receptacle/switch connections using the back-stab/clamp is NOT a good method and many of us have wondered why it isn't illegal or when it will be made so. Well I wanted to get some input from the forum regarding something I've noticed lately with the Halo recessed fixtures I've been buying from the BORG.

Now, in my line, I have used cage-clamp type terminals (Wago, Phoenix, etc.) for years however this has always been for low voltage DC control circuitry (16V DC or less). In fact, when the terminations are properly made, it takes an act of god to release the wire. Now I've noticed that Halo has been manufacturing their recessed cans with 2 (or 3?) terminal wago connectors already connected to both conductors. I was perplexed the first time I saw them and I've simply gotten into the habit of cutting them off and connecting the wires with wirenuts. But, I did start to think of this a little more.

The problem with the back stab clamps is poor contact which can lead to a broken or even worse, high resistance, connection. Obviously, when the latter is exposed to a heavy load, heat is generated at the connection and of course things can get messy.

Now take a typical can light with a 60W bulb. We're talking 0.5A or so and even if the Wago connection was marginal, would the amount of heat produced be of a magnitude to cause damage or create a fire (obviously that depends on the degree of resistance that the connection could present). Also, with a mostly resistive load like a garden-variety incandescent, the overall current would decrease as the load resistance increased (unlike say a constant HP motor that is subjected to low voltage).

Now as I said, all of the cage clamp terminals we use grip the wires very agressively. I've tried wrapping a piece of 18 ga. wire around my hand and attempting to pull it out only to wind up with a red fist that looks like a balloon animal. That being said, I don't know if the clamp terminals that they manufacture as an integral part of a receptacle are different in design and/or of poorer quality.

So, what thinks you? Regardless, I'll probably continue to chop those Wago suckers off and stick with what I know is not a potential for trouble. But I always like to hear what the pro's think

TTFN,
Jimmy
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Old 05-22-2008, 12:33 PM   #2
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Wago terminals for residential line-voltage connections


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Well, I think that most would agree that terminating receptacle/switch connections using the back-stab/clamp is NOT a good method and many of us have wondered why it isn't illegal or when it will be made so.
You are confusing two different methods/terms. BACKSTAB connection are bad. Back CLAMP are good.
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Old 05-22-2008, 12:51 PM   #3
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Wago terminals for residential line-voltage connections


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Originally Posted by joed View Post
You are confusing two different methods/terms. BACKSTAB connection are bad. Back CLAMP are good.
Sorry, Joe. I was referring to the "clamp" that is internal to the recept which grabs the backstabbed wire, not the compression screw clamp. Sorry for the confusion.
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Old 05-22-2008, 01:27 PM   #4
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Wago terminals for residential line-voltage connections


The Wago (and Ideal) push-in connectors are using a different spring metal than the old receptacle push-in connectors. Subsequently, the tension on the wire is better and more consistent across a broader temperature range. I find the new connectors to be more than satisfactory as supplied in the recessed lighting and they definitely speed up the installation process.
These connectors are also an excellent choice for joining multiple ground wires in a multigang box, taking up less room than a large wire nut, and allowing for neater folding of wires in the box. I have also found them to be an excellent option when reworking old switches and receptacles where the wires have been cut too short to properly attach a wire nut.
I'll continue to use them for certain applications, but will keep a ready supply of wire nuts as well.
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