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Thread: pigtail or screws in receptacles

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Default pigtail or screws in receptacles

    I was looking online at something and it said that most electricians prefer to use a pigtail connection when installing more than one "wire" to a receptacle. ie. 2 wires coming in, they join via wirenut, then run only one wire to the screw terminal.

    If this is so, why? I understand when there are more than 2 wires and only 2 screws, but why with 2 wires?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    My take on this, is by using the recepticle as a junction, if you have a loose connection, it would be harder to locate. By making the connection before the recepticle, you'd be more likely to find a loose connection. And, it would be faster.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    My take on this, is by using the recepticle as a junction, if you have a loose connection, it would be harder to locate. By making the connection before the recepticle, you'd be more likely to find a loose connection. And, it would be faster.
    I suppose that makes sense.

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    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    By using all four screws on the receptacle you are wiring the circuit in a series. If one receptacle stops working then your whole circuit goes off.

    By wirenutting and pigtailing you are creating parrellel circuit which is definitely preferred and about the same amount of work.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

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    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GabeS View Post
    By using all four screws on the receptacle you are wiring the circuit in a series. If one receptacle stops working then your whole circuit goes off.
    Yes, use pigtails especially because otherwise all the TVs and stuff downstream with memories will lose power and have to be reset by the HO.

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    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GabeS View Post
    By using all four screws on the receptacle you are wiring the circuit in a series. If one receptacle stops working then your whole circuit goes off.

    By wirenutting and pigtailing you are creating parrellel circuit which is definitely preferred and about the same amount of work.
    Looking at it, actually makes me think, it might be easier to get everything in the box a bit easier, as you could tuck the connection in, then insert the receptacle.

    I do question the series thing though. Why would the rest go dead, wouldn't the jumper tabs keep the circuit alive?

  7. #7

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    These would be wired in "parallel"... with pig tails, or connected to the screws on the outlet, or pushed in the holes in the back of the outlet (I don't like this method unless the screw clamps down on these wires).

    Yes the tabs would complete the connection to the downstream outlets. The exception is with a switch activated light where you break the hot tab and one outlet always has power and the other is switched.

    So far as I am concerned, half a dozen of one and 6 of the other so far as using pig tails or not for the hot neutral when two romex there. If using large boxes, plaster rings, and 12 ga. wire, it would be much easier to "cram" the outlet into the box if using the pigtail method.

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