I was making the electrical connections for a new propane solenoid this morning, and it hit me that maybe I should share some of the things I’ve learned about wiring projects over the years. This are little tricks and tips that I’ve never seen explicitly mentioned anywhere, but which will make any electrical project just a little easier.
- Before starting any project, get out a little bowl or even an empty can from the trash – to hold the trash you’ll generate. And anytime you have to cut ends off stripped wire, be sure to cut over your trash bowl so that those little bits of wire don’t go everywhere.
- Most times when you’re crimping two wires together, one wire is easier to get to than the other. Crimp that end first. Then you only have to make one crimp in the harder-to-access location!
- If you are using tiny wire that’s too small for your smallest connector (many wires on LED lights fall into this category), strip double the amount that you normally would and fold the wire back on itself to be thick enough to crimp.
- Before crimping one end of a butt connector, test the connector on the other wire as well to be sure you’ve got the right size. Where there is a disparity in wire sizes, you can use a step-down connector.
- Crimpers flatten the connection. If using a butt connector to connect two wires, make both crimps with the same orientation so that the flat spots aren’t at weird angles to one another and they’ll be a little smaller and neater looking.
- Due to a broken wrist that healed poorly years ago, sometimes I need both hands to close the crimper. That, in turn, leaves me with zero hands to hold the wire in place in the connector. A wrap or two of almost any type of tape can hold the wire so it doesn’t slip out.
- After making a crimp, always tug on the wire to make sure you’ve got a solid connection.
- Use connectors with integrated shrink wrap or use separate shrink wrap to make watertight connections, even in places that should never see a drop of water. It’ll protect your wire and the connector from the salt and humidity in the air, as well as make the connection less likely to come apart. The only time NOT to use shrink wrap is when working near gas, diesel, propane or any other flammable material, where you can’t safely heat the material to shrink it.
- Good tools make the work so much easier. I didn’t realize how big of a difference there was until I spent just a tiny bit more and got top-rated ones. See my choices here.
And finally, to avoid equipment malfunction and lower the risk of an electrical fire, always be sure you’re using sufficiently large wire. Grab a copy of our 12V Wiring Selector and keep it with your electrical tools.
Here’s hoping your electrical projects all go smoothly and easily!