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How to Splice a Wire

on February 19, 2016

Presented with an electrical project, whether it’s a home repair or just a simple bit of DIY electronics work, you’ll eventually need to join two wires together.  While you could simply remove both wires and run a brand new wire to both points, you’d be wasting extra wire and may find yourself needing to re-run those cables through walls.  Often it’s better to simply join the two wires together.  But you need to be sure you do this safely.  Knowing how to properly splice a wire is a useful skill, and today we’d like to show you how it’s done.

End-Splice

Several blue wire splice connectors for automotive and other small electrical projects.

Several blue wire splice connectors for automotive and other small electrical projects.

An end splice is a simple tube (typically with an amperage or insulation rating listed on the surface) that serves to hold two wires together.  They’re disposable, single-use splices that are extremely common for electrical work.  These inexpensive splices can be purchased in bulk and are fine for DIY personal-electronics projects and some home repair.

To use an end- or butt-splice:

  • Strip the insulation from the ends of both wires roughly ¼-inch from the end.
  • Insert both wires into the ends of the splice, making sure the wires are connecting inside.
  • Use a pair of pliers to crimp the ends of the splice to hold the wires in place.

Keep in mind that these splices are meant for more permanent splices.  Once you’ve crimped the ends of an end-splice it is no longer usable.  But for quick splices, the end-splice is cheap, fast, and long-lasting.

Twist-Splice

Multi colored twist-on wire nuts.

Multi-colored twist-on  wire connectors

Twist-on connectors (also known as wire nuts or wire connectors) are the most common connector you’ll see in home wiring.  In fact, most of the fixtures, junction boxes, and even some receptacles in your home probably have twist-on wire connectors in them already.  This is especially true for older homes that have needed parts replaced or upgraded over time.

Twist-on connectors are excellent for this task because they can handle standard home voltages and currents without problems and are reusable.  They find extensive use in wiring new fixtures because no wire-cutting or rewiring is required.  Removing the old fixture simply means removing the wire nut and splicing in the lead wires from the new fixture.

To install a twist-on wire connector:

  • Strip the insulation from both wires up to a ¼-inch from the end.
  • Lay both wires side-by-side with the bare wires touching.
  • Twist the ends together until they are firmly held in place.
  • Slide the twist-on connector over the twisted wires.
  • Twist the connector until it’s secure over the two wires and cannot be pulled free easily.

Emergency Splice

This last splice is one we do not recommend for use on any home projects, ever. If you’re working with low-voltage electronics for a bench-project, then it’s fine as a stop gap measure.  Otherwise, if you lack the tools to complete the splice properly, please call a licensed electrician.

  • Strip insulation from the ends of both wires.
  • Twist wires together.
  • Cover splice in electrical tape.

This splice is a temporary splice only and should be replaced as soon as possible.  It should also never be used on any circuit that isn’t low-voltage, as electrical tape is not designed to insulate against high currents or to deal with high temperatures.


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