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#59311 - 12/01/05 06:47 PM Parallel vs. Series
socalclem Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/23/05
Posts: 5
Im looking for information regarding wiring single-family dwellinging units using "Romex"I was taught to "pigtail" ALL receptacles and switches out: 1- to make the finish side easier and 2 - if a receptacle or switch were to be removed from the circuit, by way of loose connection or the stab-in did not grab a hold and the wire came out, the remaining circuit down stream would remain energized. From my understanding this would be in Parallel.

On the flip side, the new company i work for does not pigtail anything out. We just stab all wires in the back of the devices, for speed.(its all about the money right?) So, using this method, if a problem occurred in a switch or receptacle as noted above, you would lose power downstream. Series?

Are there any Code articles that support wiring in Parallel vs. Series?

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#59312 - 12/01/05 06:57 PM Re: Parallel vs. Series
distributor x Offline

Registered: 07/28/05
Posts: 57
Loc: Canada
If you "stab" all the wires in the back, it is not in series. It is a parallel connection in the device.

#59313 - 12/01/05 06:59 PM Re: Parallel vs. Series
Electric Eagle Offline

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
Whether you pigtail or back stab, both methods are technically parallel. I'm not going to go into which is better, there are plenty of threads debating this issue if you look around. In a series circuit, you would only have one wire in and one out and if the device is not in use the circuit is broken.

#59314 - 12/01/05 07:01 PM Re: Parallel vs. Series
ShockMe77 Offline

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 823
Loc: Rahway, New Jersey
Series circuits have only 1 path for current to flow.

Parallel circuits have more than one path for current to flow.

For instance, a grounded conductor (commonly known as a neutral conductor) is the return path in a parallel circuit and is a current carrying conductor.

[This message has been edited by ShockMe77 (edited 12-01-2005).]

#59315 - 12/02/05 04:18 AM Re: Parallel vs. Series
WFO Offline

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 206
Loc: Cat Spring, TX
I think what he is referring to is the tab of the receptacle itself becomes the series element (which technically it does).

So let me expand on that. Is the tab on a receptacle rated the same as the receptacle? (ie-a 15 amp receptacle would only be capable of passing 15 amps through the tab downstream)

If so, is it legal to wire a 15 amp receptacle into a #12 awg 20 amp circuit in the "backstabbing" manner noted above?

#59316 - 12/02/05 05:28 AM Re: Parallel vs. Series
watthead Offline

Registered: 10/13/01
Posts: 182
Loc: South Carolina
It used to be, but not anymore. Now you can only backstab #14 wire on 15 amp circuits.

#59317 - 12/02/05 11:03 AM Re: Parallel vs. Series
HondaGuy18 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/27/05
Posts: 5
Loc: Fargo ND U.S
I wouldn't stab the terminals at all i mean after a while yur gonna have problems...when troubleshooting circuits in a dwelling half the time it all goes back to those stab terminals. because when u push the device back in the box it sometimes loosens up the stab and makes a loose connecton that may cause arcing..then when trying to find the problem you pull the device back out...and the stab terminal tightens making a good connection thinking you don't have a problem... so i would not suggest the stab in terminals.

#59318 - 12/02/05 03:02 PM Re: Parallel vs. Series
HotLine1 Offline


Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6823
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Basically, series connected devices that a resi elec will encounter are fuses, circuit breakers and switches. Lighting, receptacles, etc., are all wired in parallel.

That's the basic way I explain it to my entry level students at Vo-Tech.

Connect a fuse, breaker, switch in 'parallel' on 120 volt and it will go "BOOM".


#59319 - 12/03/05 08:50 AM Re: Parallel vs. Series
HondaGuy18 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/27/05
Posts: 5
Loc: Fargo ND U.S
Thats true and also the code does not allow a circuit to depend on the device...this meaning don't hook devices up in series..the circuit cannot rely on the device beause if the device fails the whole circuit fails

#59320 - 12/03/05 08:59 AM Re: Parallel vs. Series
iwire Offline

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
code does not allow a circuit to depend on the device

You have been misinformed.

There are two code sections that I am aware of that address the issue you bring up.

One is 250.148 which requires that device removal will not interrupt the continuity of the equipment grounding conductor.

The second is 300.13(B) which requires that device removal will not interrupt the continuity of a grounded condutor that is part of a multiwire branch circuit.

[This message has been edited by iwire (edited 12-03-2005).]
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician

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