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Old 07-04-2014, 18:52   #1
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Terminal Bblock or Butt-Splice?

I a putting in a new tank monitoring system. Each sensor has 3 wires, and I have 7 tanks.

My intention was to put a 20-gang terminal block behind the control panel wired to the back of the controller. I am going to run outdoor-grade telephone wire (4 conductor - just ignore one) from the controller terminal block to each sensor location.

My question is, do I 5200 a 3- or 4-gang terminal block next to each sensor, crimp ring terminals onto the sensor and the telephone wire, and connect them that way, or do I use waterproof heat-shrink butt splices? Or, do I just solder and heat-shrink them together?

The terminal block seems like a bit of overkill, but there is something about butt splices that just makes me wince. Maybe I've been traumatized by seeing too many Autozone butt splices crimped with vice grips over the years.

Anyway, what is the "right" thing to do?
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Old 07-04-2014, 18:56   #2
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

It seems that fewer splices / connectors the better... less opportunity for corrosion. Of course once it gets in and everything is nice "sealed up" you don't see it either. Maybe better to use a block and smear it with some sort of grease???
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Old 07-04-2014, 18:57   #3
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

Butt splice with heat shrink fittings and crimp with a proper tool would be fine. Terminal block makes service easier. You can put a meter on the contacts. Grease up the connections with electric coating. Hope that helps
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Old 07-04-2014, 18:59   #4
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

Adding the terminal strip aids in replacing a bad sensor. Phone wire is solid and should not be used.
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Old 07-04-2014, 19:00   #5
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

Here is a good how to on dealing with small wires. http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/t...ng_small_wires

I would question your wire choice. With wire that thin I would want to use tinned wire because it could corrode from salt air and get brittle.

Just my thoughts.

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Old 07-04-2014, 19:08   #6
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

I missed the phone wire thing. All phone wire is not solid. Not sure what the "phone wire" is. I have used direct bury cat 5 stranded. This could be called phone wire. Garmin uses something similar for its interconnects. A lot of older exterior hung telephone cable was stranded. Not tinned which would be better. Guess things we don't know. I have used non tinned for budget reasons. If it has a good exterior coat and the termination is done well it may serve well. My experience and I don't encourage you to do things I do.


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Old 07-04-2014, 19:19   #7
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

+1 on not using solid wire on a boat.

Use individually-tinned, stranded wire.


+1 on using the correct high-quality double crimp tool.


Another option for these splices are the 3M Scotchlok connectors.

Here are a couple of replies showing information on these connectors. Reply 1 Reply 2


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Old 08-04-2014, 06:49   #8
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

Terminal block will be easier to use when you have troubleshooting to do.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:12   #9
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by krafthaus View Post
Terminal block will be easier to use when you have troubleshooting to do.
And you will have troubleshooting to do...
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:38   #10
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

"The terminal block seems like a bit of overkill, but there is something about butt splices that just makes me wince."

I hate butt slices as well. They'll work fine for a while but down the road you'll wish you had used terminal strips.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:57   #11
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Re: Terminal block or butt-splice?

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Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
"The terminal block seems like a bit of overkill, but there is something about butt splices that just makes me wince."

I hate butt slices as well. They'll work fine for a while but down the road you'll wish you had used terminal strips.
Yeah, if you use the wrong tools....

Well drillers use heat shrink butt splices every day of the year on fully submerged well pumps. There are millions upon millions of artesian wells in the US using fully submerged heat shrink butt splices.... These butt splices exceed 20-30 years fully submerged, some to depths of 300+ feet.. Our last well was 340 +/- feet and had heat shrink butt splices at the well pump. Most of the year water naturally flowed out the well cap... The heat shrink butt splices we use on boats are really no different than what are used on well pumps..

I probably exceed 7000 terminations per year, yesterday alone was at least 80, and I have never once had a butt splice fail. Do I see failed butts? Yes, but they were ALL done incorrectly or were the wrong type/choice for the application. Done correctly, with the right tools & quality terminals, they will last as long as the wire..

People often incorrectly malign the butt splice because they simply don't know any better. Because it is an extruded copper tube the crimp and terminal itself are actually more robust/rugged than a brazed seam ring terminal. Why? Because a quality butt splice has no BRAZED SEAM to fail.

I have NEVER had a butt splice split but I have seen plenty of ring terminals split the brazed seam. Heck many elcheapo ring terminals are not even brazed, but most butt splices, even cheap ones, are solid copper tube because it is actually less expensive to manufacture....

Ring Terminal = Stamp, roll form, braze seam, strain relief sleeve, tin plate

Butt Splice = cut copper extrusion, wire stop dimple, tin plate

Less Connections:

Butt Splice = 2

Terminal Strip = 4

Both work fine if done correctly with the right tools but there is only ONE I would put in a moist area of a boat and that is not the t-strip and ring terminals...

Does the lowly butt splice deserve a bad rap because of knuckle heads who install open butts in a bilge?


Does the lowly butt splice deserve a bad rap because of knuckle heads who don't even crimp the terminal and crimp only the insulation?


It always seems to be the fault of the gun (butt splice) not the person pulling the trigger (crimp tool).

Someone has to defend the lowly butt splice....
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Old 08-04-2014, 09:31   #12
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Re: Terminal Bblock or Butt-Splice?

My problem is not with the function of butt splices, they work fine for a long time. I use them to install trailer lights because the connection will go underwater.

My problem is that what ever equipment they are used with will fail and you need to cut the wire to change it. If I used butt connectors to install my bilge pumps, after twenty five years, the wires would be several inches shorter.

A terminal block also gives you an easy point to test the circuit if you need to.

Anyway a terminal block just looks neater to my eye.
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