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Old 06-10-2013, 19:09   #1
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TINY PIGTAILS

I've done some searching in the forums, but apparently I have not hit on the magic combination of search terms to get a good answer to this.

I am replacing a lot of the lights on my boat with LED-type fixtures. I have some from Bebi, some from West Marine and some from other manufacturers. Every one of them comes with these tiny 22 gage pigtails.

The house wiring is 14 gage or 12 gage, depending on the length of the run from the DC panel to the fixture.

So, here's my question. How do you connect the 22 gage wire to the 12 gage wire?!!?

I have used different size male and female spade connectors, which works and makes it nice if I have to replace the fixture, since I don't have to cut and resplice. However, this makes a huge connection and I can't get heat shrink over it to seal - anything big enough to go over the connectors won't shrink down small enough to seal over the pigtail.

I have tried doubling and tripling the pigtail end that I am inserting into a standard size blue connector, but that's pretty much guarenteed to fail the tug test.

Where I am going to tap into a line which will continue to another fixture, I have stuck the 22 gage wire into one end of the butt connector, along with the 12 gage wire, which works, but makes the heat shrink tubing a little bulky.

If I am connecting to the end of a wire, I have inserted the 14/12 gage wire into one end of the butt connector, along with the 22 gage wire and just left the other end open. Then I put heat shrink tubing over the hole thing and hope that it closes down enough on the other end.

I thought about using terminal strips, but usually can't get a terminal strip into the base of the fixture.

Any other thoughts - other than the obvious of having manufacturers use a thicker wire (are they really saving THAT much by using 22 gage wire?)?

Frank
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Old 06-10-2013, 19:19   #2
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Re: TINY PIGTAILS

Here are a couple of threads that discuss the problem.
How to Crimp Little, Tiny Wires
Connecting Really Small Wires

Edit:
And here;
Connection between mismatched wire sizes

When doing a search of the forum try to use the Google custom search facility if you hadn't done that. The normal search engine is not very good.
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Old 06-10-2013, 19:37   #3
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I am partial to these.

http://www.te.com/catalog/feat/en/c/...ML=10576,17844
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:26   #4
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Re: TINY PIGTAILS

Quote:
Where I am going to tap into a line which will continue to another fixture, I have stuck the 22 gage wire into one end of the butt connector, along with the 12 gage wire, which works, but makes the heat shrink tubing a little bulky.

If I am connecting to the end of a wire, I have inserted the 14/12 gage wire into one end of the butt connector, along with the 22 gage wire and just left the other end open. Then I put heat shrink tubing over the hole thing and hope that it closes down enough on the other end.
Either of these should be OK. If you're not gonna be looking at it, a bulky splice shouldn't be a problem

The main problems with joining thin wire to heavier wire are:
1 - what connection method
2 - prevent movement of the heavy wire from breaking the small wire


To cure problem #2, the heavy wire must always be supported in some fashion, close to where the thinner wire connects to it. There should be enough extra small wire to permit servicing the fixture without having to move the thick wire.

I like terminal strips , such as the those shown by Capt Eric (above), if there's room to mount them and they aren't permanently hidden. They need to be checked periodically for tightness.

Otherwise, some form of crimp. I prefer cap splices to butt splices for this.
(Example from Internet)



If there's a big difference in wire size, I will wrap the thinner wire around the bigger wire before inserting and crimping.

I've seen special butt splice connectors where one end is smaller than the other (eg one end blue, one end yellow) but they're relatively pricy.

Another option is insulated blade or bullet crimp-on disconnects, because, as long as the blades or bullets mate, you can use the right size crimp: eg a red male for the #22 wire and a yellow insulated female for the #12 feeder.
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:20   #5
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I have done all of these at one point or another. I was looking to see if there was another method that I was missing, but it doesn't look like it.

What I am trying to avoid is having someone do an insurance survey sometime in the future and being told that "the only acceptable way to connect large gage to small gage wire is by method X, according to governing body XYZ.".

In this last refit, I have spent an extra $750 and days worth of time, adding gear that was "noted" by the surveyor I paid to do a "pre-overhaul" inspection. In each case, these were "suggested upgrades."
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Old 09-10-2013, 15:38   #6
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Re: TINY PIGTAILS

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptFrankM View Post
What I am trying to avoid is having someone do an insurance survey sometime in the future and being told that "the only acceptable way to connect large gage to small gage wire is by method X, according to governing body XYZ.".
To the best of my current knowledge, everything mentioned so far in this thread would meet ABYC standards.

But it would be interesting to hear from a surveyor whether there's another standard they'd apply. Another idea, you could pose the question to Ed Sherman, who's an expert on marine electrical and electronics, and ABYC's Director of Educational Programming.
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Old 16-10-2013, 01:26   #7
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Re: TINY PIGTAILS

buy heat shrink spade connectors instead of trying to heat shrink the whole thing after
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