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Old 01-11-2008, 08:31 PM   #1
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Well, I have been reading about wiring for sometime and all of the books I have read show the wires connected them pigtailed to the receptacal. (ex. black to black then pigtail to the recept. same for ground and neutral) I spoke with an electrician today and he told me that wasn't the correct way to wire homes. He said that was good for commercial but homes you should wire in series (recept to recept via the recept connections from top to bottom). He said this way if one receptacal goes out they all go out and it would be easy to find out which one is bad.

Is this correct? It doesn't seem to flow with everything I read so far. Any info would be appreciated.

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Old 01-11-2008, 08:39 PM   #2
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


I see a lot of guys do it the way the electrician suggested. It takes less time and material so it is less expensive than pigtails but I still prefer pigtails.

Actually, if your circuit is part of a multi-wire branch circuit (2 hots- one neutral 120 volt circuits) you must pigtail the devices.

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Old 01-11-2008, 10:29 PM   #3
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


That "electrician" was in error.
The pigtail method is considered the best way to go in any situation. The receptacle does NOT become part of the current path.
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:06 PM   #4
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Agree with JGarth- pigtails are the way to go. The connections from one outlet box to the next down the line should not be based on a questionable receptacle connection. "He said this way if one receptacle goes out they all go out and it would be easy to find out which one is bad." Does this remind you of Christmas lights? How crazy does it make a person when they can't find that break in the connections?
I find it easier to manage the wires in the box if all are pigtailed then laid in the bottom(back) of the box and only the single black, white and ground conductors of that outlet are left to maneuver.
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:43 PM   #5
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Wire it right the first time and you won't have to chase down nonsense problems like your buddy is. Pigtail it. It is the way of the pro. Not to mention the fact that wiring it in true series presents a whole other host of issues that would screw an installation beyond reason.
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Old 01-12-2008, 06:21 AM   #6
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


I'll take the opposing view. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the device screws for the connections in a typical residential setting, provided everything is done properly as it should anyway.
Using the device screws is JUST as much the "right way" as pigtailing. And yes, I am most definitely a professional electrician.

Also, receptacles do not regularly "go out". In fact I have NEVER seen one "go out". This goober makes it seem like they are like light bulbs that fail all the time. Hogwash!
I have seen receptacles burn up. This is from as poor connection or backstab.
Do the job correctly and it will never go out or burn up.

Another thing. If this guy actually used the terms series and parallel, he had no clue what he was talking about. Series and parallel wiring are two VERY different things!
Whether you pigtail or use the device screws, you are still wiring in PARALLEL.
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Old 01-12-2008, 07:59 AM   #7
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
I'll take the opposing view. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the device screws for the connections in a typical residential setting, provided everything is done properly as it should anyway.
Using the device screws is JUST as much the "right way" as pigtailing. And yes, I am most definitely a professional electrician.

Also, receptacles do not regularly "go out". In fact I have NEVER seen one "go out". This goober makes it seem like they are like light bulbs that fail all the time. Hogwash!
I have seen receptacles burn up. This is from as poor connection or backstab.
Do the job correctly and it will never go out or burn up.
I've never seen one "go out" either. In fact, the receptacles have two connectors on each side specifically for this reason, as well as allowing a split-duplex installation.

Unless the receptacle has a manufacturing defect or has been physically damaged somehow, the only reason it could fail is if it were severely overloaded, in which case, you've got other things to worry about.

Besides, there isn't much room in those boxes for a bunch of pigtails. A box too crowded can cause other problems.

Last edited by Bob Masters; 01-12-2008 at 10:46 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-12-2008, 08:49 AM   #8
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


>>> He said this way if one receptacal goes out they all go out and it would be easy to find out which one is bad.
Not true even for Christmas lights. Much harder to find out which one is bad!

Receptacles truly connected in series is an improper situation everywhere except inside certain specialized electrical test equipment. By series I mean light (silver) terminal of one receptacle connected to dark (gold) terminal of next, and neutral coming back connected to nothing else.

The box fill rule (to compute number of conductors permitted in a box) counts zero points for each pigtail but nevertheless it may be difficult to stuff everything in the box if you use pigtails as opposed to connecting the wires directly to the screws on the receptacle or switch.

Direct connect to a receptacle really shows off problems if the backstab holes are used. Four such backstab joints have to be traversed at each outlet box by power continuing past; in and out for the feed and in and out for the neutral return. With screwed on or clamped in wires, the contact is just as good for ongoing power using direct connected as pigtailed connections.

If a hot feed is wire nutted to the next hot wire to daisy chain onward, the neutral must also be wire nutted to its continuation, with pigtails as needed in the outlet box.

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-12-2008 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:50 AM   #9
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Thanks guys. Yes he used the term series. He may have used the term in correctly. He meant wiring receptacal to receptacal. I will be honest and thought he was correct when he called it series. I guess I was incorrect also but he is the lic. electrician so he should know what he is talking about. I appreciate everyones input. So you can basically go either way. All of the books I have read have provided examples using pigtails but this may not be the easiest way in real world situations. That is how I planned my wiring but I am always open to better options.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:27 AM   #10
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Another thing. If this guy actually used the terms series and parallel, he had no clue what he was talking about. Series and parallel wiring are two VERY different things!
Whether you pigtail or use the device screws, you are still wiring in PARALLEL.
Amen. It was the "series or parallel" in the thread title that got me to tune in.

Although I'm not an electrician, there have been times where I've had to deal with existing installations where the circuit is paralleled at the recept via the screws. The only thing that I don't personally care for with this approach depends on the wiring size/type that is being used. For instance, if the conductors are 12 AWG. solid copper, getting all of the wiring as well as the device into the box can be a minor battle. Just my opinion.

Either way, I too take exception with the term "series" in this instance.

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Old 01-12-2008, 10:46 AM   #11
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


I'm with Petey and the gang on this also. Excepting for those times when you have to pigtail (MWBC, >2 cables), the side screws are more than adequate for connecting the wires. If you leave the proper amount of wire in the box and neatly fold everything back in, it all fits very nicely.

As far as receptacle failure, I've seen receptacles wired with the screws, with all the plastic broken off that still provided power to the downstream devices.
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:12 PM   #12
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Still have to pig tail the ground. I have not seen any recepts with two ground screws. And you can't get two wires under most recept grnd screw/terminals.
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:56 PM   #13
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


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Still have to pig tail the ground. I have not seen any recepts with two ground screws. And you can't get two wires under most recept grnd screw/terminals.

It would be a code violation to install two wires under one screw.
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Old 01-12-2008, 01:26 PM   #14
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by chris75 View Post
It would be a code violation to install two wires under one screw.
Not neccessarily so.

Some receps are designed to accept 2 wires under a screw (actually they are clamps as opposed to just a screw)
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Old 01-12-2008, 01:57 PM   #15
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Wire Recepts. in Series or Parallel?


Post # 3 is wrong...Post # 6 is correct.

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