wiring question

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Invariably when I swap out a wall plug or light switch, there is not enough extra wiring in the box. It makes it very difficult to do the work. Also, I've done alot of dry-walling over the decaying plaster which really makes it difficult with the extra thickness of the wall. Any suggestions?
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Pigtails.
Actually works pretty nice, especially if you can use stranded wire and then tuck all of the solid wire neatly into the box first, before you finally screw the switch or outlet into place.
--
SVL



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Better yet, just use stranded wire in the first place. I hate Romex.
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Stranded wire! For the pigtail itself but I have never seen a stranded equivelent of Romex in the store. Am I missing something, was I not looking closely enough? Stranded wire in an extension cord sure, but can I run that through a wall?
The obvious problem is the tendancy of strands to poke out of junctions and cause shorts and for trimmed wire to scatter into places you don't want it either.

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Individual THN/THHN stranded conductors in conduit, sure, you can run that inside a wall. Individual conductors inside the wall, not in a sheath or conduit? No. Not allowed.
Extension cord is not allowed for premises wiring of any type, temporary or permanent, exposed or concealed.

Twist 'em up a little tighter with your fingers before you make a splice, and that's not so much of a problem...
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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I can't see where there are all that many opportunities to use stranded wire. When I am putting in someting new, switched load or recepticle, the existing wiring is solid Romex type, any new wiring is solid Romex type, so where do I use stranded? My experience as a DIYer is the only place I see stranded is hooking up a lighting fixture or a switch device that has stranded wire hookups rather than screw or push-in terminals. And then they are a nuisance because they have to hook up to solids.
Take for example a switch box I'm working on right now. The box is going to have a Leviton 6230M timer switch and a conventional switch. The leaving cable from the timer is 14-2 copper going to a bathroom exhaust fan. The one leaving the conventional switch is also 14-2 copper, going to a heat lamp. I am putting thes cables in, so I could choose something else, if there was anything else to choose. I have never seen a stranded cable intended for running through walls and attics, but maybe I just don't know where to get the good stuff. Poewr comes in on 14-2 copper Romex, and the box also has to feed to a downstream load on existing 12-2 Aluminum Romex. No option for stranded wire there.
When I work out a plan for connections in this box I wind up with twist nuts on all the timer leads. If they had been solid leads or terminals of some kind I could have avoided several twist nuts, which consume space in the box.
So, as far as I can see all this talk about stranded wire leads nowhere for me. But, I'm no expert and maybe someone can clarify for me.
BTW, one thing that is a BIG help to me is the Carlon deep Old Work boxes --- the blue plastic you see in the bins at HD. Only trouble is they have everything except 2-gangs, so I have to order these online, e.g., www.acehardware.com. They are head and shoulders above anything I've tried. I should say that my walls are plaster on gypboard lathe, with thickness of 1", so I really need the wide wall gripping of these boxes.
Another thing I like are the Ideal In-sure push-in connectors. I will always go for one of these if I don't have to connect aluminum or a stranded wire.
---- just my 2 cents worth,
Novice DIT electrician Ed
The stranded wires on this particular device are huge making a
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Please specifically define a pigtail - I am not sure if I know what it is - just a wire nut with a piece of stranded wire?
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Yes. And just to state the obvious, do not try to use the push-in terminals on the back of the device with stranded wire.
Bobby
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Even better, never use push-in terminals on a device. Clamped back wire connections (where tightening the screw tightens two clamp plates together) are superior and work fine with stranded.
Cheers, Wayne
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Harry Everhart wrote:

Could just as well be solid, but otherwise, yes...
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Just to make sure I understand, is the advantage of "stranded" that it is more pliable so that it is easier to fit everything back into the box? Are there any disadvantages to using stranded? (my electrician seems to use solid and then just apply a bit of brute force to push everything back in the box)
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"Just to make sure I understand, is the advantage of "stranded" that it
is more pliable so that it is easier to fit everything back into the box?"
Yes, and it isn't prone to breakage when you bend it like solid wire. I've pushed solid wire back and and had it break on me or scrape and short out on the box (luckily it was on a circuit with a ground fault breaker). Also, when you use stranded wires it's much easier to get the switch/receptacle properly centered in the box too. I hate it when th solid wire pushes back so hard that my switches or receptacles are at an angle and I can't fix it.
"Are there any disadvantages to using stranded?"
It costs a little more.
"(my electrician seems to use solid and then just apply a bit of brute force to push everything back in the box)"
Most electricians do just that. It's because they are using the standard procedure used by penny pinching home builder and probably don't know any better.
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I find it hard to make a good hook connection to a screw terminal using stranded. Tightening the screw tends to push out the individual strands. Are there any secrets to this? Any other disadvantages to stranded?
Cheers, Wayne
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Wayne Whitney wrote:

The "secret" is "don't do that"... :)
I don't know (should, granted, but don't) whether NEC says anything specifically or not, but all utilities I worked with would not allow stranded for connections other than captured terminals for precisely that reason. If must use stranded, they required either a (ring, not spade) terminal or solder to bind the strands.
For the same reason, for ordinary house wiring w/ screw terminals I would not select stranded wire. Large ampacity conductors are stranded for the flexibility, but with it the terminals supplied are suitable.
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There are receptacles and switches available with back wire clamping plates (tightened by a screw), are these suitable for use with stranded wire?
Cheers, Wayne
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Wayne Whitney wrote:

Damn few, if any, for as I say, "ordinary" house wiring--by that I'm meaning 10 - 14 gauge...for heavy service like a range, the receptacles do have appropriate terminals. But for an ordinary 15A switch or receptacle, I'm unaware of any. I just woudn't use stranded for that, it's not suitable.
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"I find it hard to make a good hook connection to a screw terminal using stranded. Tightening the screw tends to push out the individual strands. Are there any secrets to this?"
You either need to use ring or spade terminals crimped on the end of the wire or the spec grade receptacles that have a place where you can push it in and screw down and it clamps in. I can't find a picture of one right now.
There is more than one type of spec grade at Lowes, so make sure you select the right one (and yes, it's more expensive spec grade ones).
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I recall an argument between a DIY'er, a physicist by profession, and a building inspector. The physicist contended that in addition to being easier to manipulate, stranded wire carries AC current with less resistance than solid wire does. The inspector's position was that some strands could be broken with careless wire stripping, and not all strands would be sufficiently grabbed by conventional screw terminals. The inspector won.
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"Individual THN/THHN stranded conductors in conduit, sure, you can run that inside a wall. Individual conductors inside the wall, not in a sheath or conduit? No. Not allowed."
Where do you see this? I don't see why it would have to be in a conduit. If anything, it would be easier to accidentally cut through stiff romex than stranded wire strung from stud to stud given the back resistance romex would give.
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I believe the idea is that the outer jacket of romex (NM-B) protects the conductors while the wire is being pulled through the wall cavity. The insulation on the indiviudal conductors isn't designed to protect the wire in that way.
Cheers, Wayne
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