No one really wants to think about their electrical system too much. However, understanding how and why you connect wires is an important part of being able to maintain your wiring system. There are two types of connectors: crimp connectors and solderless connectors.
What types of wire connectors exist?
Wire connectors come in two common types: traditional crimp contacts or solderless connectors. Traditionally, how wires are connected has been by using a crimping tool or a soldering iron to melt the ends of the wires together and attach them permanently. Many of these connector types are now being replaced by less labor-intensive, more reusable and safer alternatives.
Crimp Connector Types
Old-fashioned solder terminals have been around for decades. They are still very popular in the marine industry. Shown here are examples of the more advanced types—the style that’s used most is referred to as “backstab terminals.”
Soldering vs Crimping
The wires are inserted into the crimp connector and then bent around a piece of metal, which is soldered to complete the connection. It’s possible to make a waterproof seal, but it takes skill and practice. Soldering the wire terminals is one of the best ways to make a watertight connection, but it requires some skill and tools. In addition, once you’ve soldered a terminal onto a wire, you can’t remove it again. So when you make a mistake or decide to change your system during an upgrade or repair, you have to start over.
There is also a type of connector called a backstab terminal. The cables are inserted into the crimp connector and then bent around a piece of metal that has been soldered onto the outside of the cable. A waterproof seal can be made just by pushing on the top side of the connection when it is sealed. If you wish to make it best made, you can also press the bottom side of the connector when making a connection. The backstab terminal is more secure than a solder terminal. However, they are not as widely used.
Crimp connectors are by far the most common among all of the types on the market today because they offer a great range of styles, have low tooling costs and are standardized at lower cost than other types. Most connectors come in three sizes: #6, #8 and #10. You should always check the chart before you buy.
Solderless Connector Types
Solderless wire connectors are popular because they are so easy to connect. They come in a variety of types and sizes, but all the types that we’re going to discuss here have one thing in common: They use a small plug that fits inside the hole of the receptacle or plug. The plugs snap together when you press them, and then you solder them on both sides to seal them permanently.
If you’re making a new connection and you don’t have the correct size wire, you can use a special tool to make a custom crimp connector, which is just an extension of your tool that lets you work on lots of different connectors at once.