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#125230 - 09/26/04 08:09 AM NEC and soldering connections
revconguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 6
Loc: Huntsville, Al, USA
Quick question -- Is there anything in the NEC that prohibits soldering wire connections prior to placement of wire nuts?

thanks....BB

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#125231 - 09/26/04 08:44 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
gfretwell Offline
Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9045
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
Nope, just be sure you twist them up to make a solid mechanical connection before you solder.

110.14(B) Splices. Conductors shall be spliced or joined with splicing devices identified for the use or by brazing, welding, or soldering with a fusible metal or alloy. Soldered splices shall first be spliced or joined so as to be mechanically and electrically secure without solder and then be soldered.

At that point the wirenut is just replacing tape and might even be an unapproved use
YMMV.
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Greg Fretwell

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#125232 - 09/26/04 08:50 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
iwire Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
I agree with Greg you can solder twisted connections but at that point you can not use a wire nut.

The wire nut instructions do not say to solder first.

Solder the conductors and tape them up, just like you would with any uninsulated connectors.
_________________________
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts

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#125233 - 09/26/04 09:18 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
capt al Offline
Member

Registered: 06/20/04
Posts: 203
Loc: Norton, Ma USA
I'm just wondering why you would want to solder these connections in today's world? With all the types of connectors out there since this method used to be done.

I can remember going into older homes and finding splices done this way in 3" round boxes. Connections were still in excellent condition. That would be a lot of extra work to do today.

[This message has been edited by capt al (edited 09-26-2004).]

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#125234 - 09/26/04 09:48 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
Fred Offline
Member

Registered: 04/30/01
Posts: 461
Loc: Straughn, IN 47387
Several years ago I worked for another EC on a new school project. We made up all the connections twisted and left them hanging out of the boxes. Then the foreman went around to each box with a solder pot and dipped the twisted connections. He had another guy following him taping the soldered connections so you had 3 guys checking every splice connection, the guy who made the connection, the guy who dipped the solder and the guy who taped it up. That's quality control!

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#125235 - 09/26/04 10:07 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
revconguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 6
Loc: Huntsville, Al, USA
Thanks all for the comments. Capt -- Let me make a confession. No, I'm not a licensed pro and, yes, I know this board is for pros only.

I'm in the process of installing some outlets in my home addition.

For the pros - please be gentle....
1. Yes I have studied electric installation at length.
2. Yes, the local building inspector endorses my work and actually gave me a mini-NEC test about 10 yrs ago when I asked for a permit.
3. Educationally, I'm an engineer with a great appreciation for safety standards and quality workmanship.
4. I never mess with SE or panel connections or anything above 110 or multi-phase. I used the pros for that.

The reason I asked the question is that I'm, frankly, a engineer who is paranoid about safety and who tends to "over engineer" everthing I do. Knowing the heat and arcing that can occur when hot conductors are allowed to "slip" across each other and not trusting wire nuts to secure connections, I always twist, solder, wire-nut, and tape my connections. The solder is to make sure the conductors stay in secure contact with each other and one is unlikely to pull away from another. The wire nut provides protection against physical contact/damage to the solder connection and the taping helps keep the wirenut from vibrating loose.

Yes, I know connections like this are nightmares for electricions to work on after-the-fact. However, with a tight connection, it shouldn't have to be revisited later. While lurking on various boards like this, I have noted vague comments against soldering and wanted to see if there are any clear violations or safety issues with what I'm doing.

In addition to my paranoid connection methods, I'm thinking about having the entire sub-panel done with AFCI breakers. I love those things.....

Again, thanks for the comments.

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#125236 - 09/26/04 10:15 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
iwire Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
Most of us here like to do a great job obviously a safe job.

I think the idea of soldering your connections in a home is major over engineering.

Wire nuts are great connectors if installed correctly.

I would follow the directions on the wire nuts and move on.

It was recently posted on this board that soldered connections have a higher resistance than a wire nut connections
_________________________
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts

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#125237 - 09/26/04 10:23 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
iwire Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
 Quote:
I'm thinking about having the entire sub-panel done with AFCI breakers. I love those things.....


I have to ask....why?

Do you have some info to share with us?

I would suggest saving yourself some money, use GFCIs instead of the AFCIs and get close to the same protection as AFCIs.

An AFCI can not detect the kind of arc that a loose connection will produce.

AFCIs do not detect series arcs only parallel arcs.




[This message has been edited by iwire (edited 09-26-2004).]
_________________________
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts

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#125238 - 09/26/04 10:37 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
winnie Offline
Member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 652
Loc: boston, ma
There are 3 safety issues that I can think of. 'Overengineer' properly, and you improve safety with a cost penalty. 'Overengineer' improperly, and you decrease over-all safety because you mitigate one risk, but increase other risks.

The issues that I see are
1) Solder mechanically supporting the splice.
2) Increased splice size making box fill more problematic.
3) Different characteristics of the solder rendering the wire-nuts essentially ineffective.

The key statement is 110.14(B) is 'mechanically and electrically secure without solder'. The NEC explicitly does not recognize the use of solder for the mechanical support of splices. The reason is that solder will easily deform under pressure, and permit splices to come apart.

If you have held the wires together with the solder, and then 'capped' the splice with the wire nut, then I'd bet you've increased the risk of the splice coming loose over time.

If you have twisted the wires together so tightly that the splice is sturdy and functional without either the wire-nut or the solder, then I suspect that the solder won't be an issue. However if this is the case, then you introduce another issue: you can only strip a certain length of wire into the wire-nut. How hard do you have to twist the wire to get a good self supporting mechanical splice in that length? How much damage do you do to the wires in this case?

Finally, with the combination of tape, wire-nuts, etc., just how stiff are your splices and how much room do they take in the box. Are the wires squeezed into your boxes?

Now the above leads to another question: if price and time are no object, just what is the _best_ splice you can use. I properly done solder splice is probably pretty high up there; twisted over sufficient length, soldered, taped, and forget the wire nut entirely.

The various 'set screw' connectors have always struck me as quite nice. I have used the 'set screw' wire nuts; you have a brass barrel that has a set screw in the side. You position all of the wires, tighten the screw, and you can visually confirm that everyting is in the correct place.

Crimp splices seem quite reliable on _stranded_ wire, but nearly impossible to make secure with solid wire and standard tools.

Just to be clear, I am also a theory guy.

-Jon

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#125239 - 09/26/04 10:51 AM Re: NEC and soldering connections
gfretwell Offline
Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9045
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
I don't really see a problem with soldering a twisted splice before you put a wirenut on it as long as the soldered splice is secure and the "tails" are trimmed off like you would on a normal twist. I also understand the listing problem that *some* inspectors might bring up.
It would ultimately depend on the exact language in the listing and installation instructions of the particular wirenut.
There is a big difference between "do not" and "it is not necessary" when you are enforcing article 110.3
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Greg Fretwell

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