The screw terminals, definitely. The "holes on the back" are notorious for
loosening up over time and causing all manner of problems.
Do a Google Groups search on this newsgroup for back-stab outlets and you'll
see what I mean.
Some devices have holes in the back and the screw tightens a wire clamp
inside the hole, those types are fine. There is a lot of mistrust of the
"back-stab" wiring devices that have a spring loaded clip that holds the
stripped conductor when it is pushed into the hole. There have been a
lot of problems with them and the back-stab wiring devices that will
accommodate #12 solid wire are no longer produced. I still see those
that will take #14 solid wire in the supply houses.
What he said. There are "back stab" receptacles (bad), and there are
"back-wired" receptacles (good). The back-wired ones involve tightening a
screw down on the straight bare wire to secure the connection. But the
regular receptacles where you wrap the wire around the screw and tighten it
are also good. Some people think these are the best overall.
I use the commercial or hospital grade back wired devices whenever I
do a wiring job with stranded wire. I did a beauty shop like that many
years ago and there has never been a receptacle failure at the place.
I'll install a hospital grade receptacle wherever items are going to
be plugged/unplugged a lot.
Fact is that screw terminal give greater surface contact with the wires
where the back stabs only grab with the edge of a thin piece of metal.
You don't see stab connectors on heave electric machinery for that
reason. The contact points would get hot. Screw terminals are a better
connection in my opinion; (if you remember to tighten them)
Agree with: "Fact is that screw terminal give greater surface contact
with the wires..............."
Including the ones where each screw tightens down a small metal plate
onto the wire inserted below it.
Recently replaced several 30+ year old duplex outlets adjacent to work
bench; making sure that replacements were good quality ones;
definitely not 'Back Stabbers' or the 'Poke wire in a hole and hope
for the best ............ ' style!
In last 40 years, touch wood, never had any duplex outlets problems
due to care and prompt replacement with good quality items.
But every Christmas, New Year period there are home fires often
attributed to an electrical problem, sometimes deaths or people burnt
out of their homes.
PS. Remember to replace batteries in non AC operated smoke detectors
etc. New Year good time to do it!
On Wed, 30 Dec 2009 21:36:44 -0800 (PST), thebigguy
It is often stated that it is better to use the screw terminals,
wrapping the wire 3/4 clockwise around the screw. I use electrical
pliers to form a "J" and a regular screw driver to tighten it down.
The backstabs are often used by electricians to reduce installation
I also use my long needle-nose pliers to close up the J into a tight
loop before I snug up the screw. I don't install many outlets, so the
extra few seconds per outlet is cheap insurance. I HATE having the old
stiff wires walk off the screw as I am Z-folding everything back into
the box. Be careful on how much insulation you strip off- it sucks when
a hot lead shorts to the box. You should barely be able to see the bare
copper under the screw, if you did it right.
I get the sockets that are made to take a straight wire and the screw
tightens down on it. I this this type because the outlet is good
quality and the wires make good connections and are still easy to put
on. The only ones I could find like this are commercial grade. I think
these are best for replacing existing back-stab outlets Also several
years ago my wife took up the hobby of jewelery making. Mostly what
she did was stringing beads and bending and twisting wire. I tried her
wire bending pliers and discovered they are excellent for bending the
wire into a loop to place on the screw. Her's were a little on the
light weight side but I was able to find some more suitable.
Most wire strippers meant for the electrical trades have holes in outer
part of the blades meant for making a loop in solid wires. I use this
model made by Kline. Look at the holes in the outer of the blade. You
insert the wire and bend it into a J hook.
Yeah, I have Kleins, and use that hole. But once the J-hook is around
the screw, I still use the needle-nose to close the J to where the wild
end touches or almost touches the stem, before I snug up the screw.
Maximizes wire-screw contact area, and makes it close to impossible to
accidently pull the wire off the screw. Some of the outlets I was
replacing on this place, the wire was barely under the screw. Just
working on my own stuff, I can take the time to be fussy and
Most people have no idea what those holes are for. I like that
particular Klien tool because it has the plier nose that can
be use to pinch the J bend closed around the screw. It's a good
tool for repairing plastic and rubber insulated extensions cords
because of the sharp cable cutter.
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