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Old 29-06-2012, 03:26   #1
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Butt Connector vs Solder

An electrician friend said that he finds it's better to twist and solder 12v wires rather than use butt connectors.

Is this true?

Really appreciate your opinion
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Old 29-06-2012, 03:42   #2
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From an old-school connectivity perspective solder is better as there is a cleaner path. That said electric utilities have used crimped connections for secondary (household) voltage for many years. Not sure if there is a mechanical advantage.

One of they tricks to getting a good crimp is the right tool. I prefer to use parallel pliers. Like these http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7...m11k%26fr=ipad

Sorry Oman iPad I cannot post a picture, just the link

Bill
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Old 29-06-2012, 04:46   #3
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

Quote:
Originally Posted by cutlass View Post
An electrician friend said that he finds it's better to twist and solder 12v wires rather than use butt connectors.

Is this true?

Really appreciate your opinion
standards say to also have a mechanical connection to keep things together if the wires get hot enough to melt the solder...

its up to you...some people solder and crimp....

others will argue the solder creates a hard spot and wires break more easily from vibration (this has been my experience but is pretty rare).

a GOOD connection any way you do it is better than a poor connection...so if doing it will take some better tools or supplies...and you don't have them I would do the best connection with what I have on hand.

think long and hard about critical systems before slapping it together...
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Old 29-06-2012, 07:31   #4
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

if the wires get hot enough to melt the solder then the connection better break off or you'll have a fire cause you didn't fuse the branch properly.
Experience is the best factor. mechanical connection is a must. I always pull on my crimps pretty hard to make sure they hold.
Some places I flow some solder into a crimp, some places I leave it just crimped. Solder helps lower any resistance that builds up over time.
With time, you will learn from your own experience, and do what you feel works for you.
Hopefully you have critical areas properly fused, critical runs properly gauged, and you understand wire distance and resistance concepts.
Don't forget that current has to flow back, so black/negative/return wire is just as important as the positive.
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Old 29-06-2012, 07:46   #5
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

I prefer to use connectors and then use a shrink wrap cover to keep moisture and corrosion out. Solder is great for conductivity, but you can lose that advantage if there is a possibility that the wire can be moved and the solder cracks.
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Old 29-06-2012, 07:46   #6
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

Never solder connections on a boat. The solder joints can crack from vibrations.
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Old 29-06-2012, 07:49   #7
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

if i recall correctly the aybc or other legislative organization requires a soldered connection to be physically connected to the substrate to prevent movement... ie a strap located within close proximity of the soldered connection... it can be a plastic strap, and I would think that would be preferable...

mechanical butt connectors that the utility companies use for line voltage are fastened with bolts, not crimped... they have torque specs to assure positive and proper contact with the conductors... crimp connectors cannot be controlled to assure proper force/crimp... tugging hard is way too arbitrary.. but with that said, that is all I have on my boat...

I use all tinned wires, and I use heat shrink tubing and heat shrink butt connectors...ie I slide tubing onto the conductor, then I connect the wires, shrink the butt connector insulation first, then slide the tubing over the butt connector so that the tubing extends past the butt connector at least 1" and typically about 2" then heat shrink the tubing..

I also use a heat gun.. I never would use a torch or match or lighter... way too hot...

I also make sure I use the proper sized heat shrink tubing to avoid too much shrinkage and possible tears...

I just got a new computer and will try to find some sample pics of a connection...


(I also use weatherproof insulating type of tape for connections in wet areas, such as the bilge)... it is a real pita to take / redo these connections but that is the point...
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Old 29-06-2012, 07:52   #8
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
Never solder connections on a boat. The solder joints can crack from vibrations.
i agree that vibrations are an issue, but I dont think they preclude the use of solder... if vibrations are a factor, then a crimped connector will vibrate loose or at the least vibrate enough to allow moisture in and corrosion to get inbetween the conductors and or the connector...

securing and strapping would be the solution to both possibility/potentials..
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Old 29-06-2012, 08:01   #9
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Adhesive lined heatshrink is great stuff. The adhesive is like hot glue. When done right a little bit will squeeze out each end so you know you have a good hermetic seal. Using heatshrink on soldered joints can also reduce the risk of metal fatigue induced breakage at the wire's solder/no solder interface by increasing any bending radius with wire movement. That said I still use crimp connections for almost all. Much faster.
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Old 29-06-2012, 08:03   #10
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

The link below is an excellent primer on crimping. Maine Sail, who frequents this forum, has done a great job of posting how-to articles with pictures.

Marine Wire Termination Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com

As for "soldering vs crimping" just google the phrase and by the time you sort through several of the posts, you should have a good idea of pros and cons.

Personally, I was a big fan of solder connections, but I've become a convert to using mechanical crimps on connectors without solder. I also coat the exposed wire ends with a conductive paste to reduce/prevent oxidation and to ensure a good contact with the wire and connector. Penetrox is a brand I use, but a variety of other similar products are on the market. Some advocate the use of dielectric silicone grease, but this is intended as a sealant to protect and lubricate surfaces, not as a conductor of electrical energy. That said, in some applications sufficient pressure between connectors may break through the nonconductive grease and provide an adequate electrical connection.

Roger
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Old 29-06-2012, 08:07   #11
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

why would anyone twist and solder 12v joints .. unless they were out of butt connectors?
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Old 29-06-2012, 08:21   #12
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

If you have enough heat in a wire to melt a solder joint you have bigger issues elsewhere than a discussion on whether to solder or crimp. Personally, if the only thing that disconnects the flow of electricity on a high resistance hot wire is the solder joint, I'd be quite thankful that it did.
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Old 29-06-2012, 08:40   #13
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

yes, i use adhesive lined heat shrink tubing / connectors... anything else is just not quite sufficient... if air can get in then so can salt... not a good thing...

wire by itself would not break, unless flexed a bunch and bunch... what / where the wire will break will be where the insulation was stripped off and the wire was nicked... but most wire used is stranded so only a few wires maybe lost... not much but then again, any wires size reduction will increase resistance... but with that said, most folks I have met and discussed with are over sizing the wires by ten fold at least... which by itself isnt a good thing... as they then start over sizing the fuses... which will put the equipment at risk...fuses dont protect the wires they protect the equipment...

the increased wire size will not reduce the power consumption either... a big misconception... (unless you have exceeded the maximum length of the reccomended conductor run) most equipment have voltage regulators built into them, and they are designed to run at a specific range of voltage, i.e. a 12 gps unit may run at 10 volts if that is what the engineers built/designed for...

anyways, that is a bit off topic here...

but you can find adhesive lined heat shrink tubing online for about 1/10th the price of west marine, who sells three or four 3inch pieces for about $10

good luck
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Old 29-06-2012, 09:03   #14
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I've been pleased with product from buyheatshrink.com. Way cheaper than box stores.
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Old 29-06-2012, 09:44   #15
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Re: Butt connector vs solder

Yeahwell. There are many incredibly long threads online about how to connect wires, at least your friend didn't say "twist and tape".

Of course if he really had years of experience, he'd have started as a telegraph lineman and he'd know the only proper way to splice wires is with a Western Union Splice, which doesn't require solder, tape, or crimps.
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