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Let us twist again: IDEAL highlights benefits of modern twist-on wire connectors

Article published in Professional Electrician (UK Publication) July/August 2011

Twist-on wire connectors are unique in that they can safely and securely connect wide-ranging combinations of solid and stranded wires, while being reusable. However, their use is almost completely confined to the North American market, and in the UK the product suffers from an association with the notoriously unreliable ceramic ‘screw-it’ wire nuts of the 1970s. Here Phil Roberts from IDEAL INDUSTRIES’ electrical division tells us more about twist-on wire connectors.

Although very much the connector of choice in North America, the twist-on wire connector remains a largely untapped resource in the UK electrical market. Unfortunately many electricians still associate them with the poor-quality ‘screw-it’ wire nuts from the 1970s; manufactured from ceramic, these had a tendency to crack very easily and expose the wires, leading to safety hazards.

However, modern twist-on connectors have come a long way. Today, twist-on products are extremely safe, and can save electricians a significant amount of time, and therefore money. And, having some unique features, we believe they offer distinct benefits over both terminal strips and push-in connectors.

For example, twist-on connectors offer a more secure connection than terminal strips. With a terminal strip it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a connection is completely secure, and if it isn’t this can potentially lead to a fire hazard. Securing the screws can be quite a fiddly task, and the screw can loosen over time. In addition, the quality of terminal strips has deteriorated over recent years, with the market suffering from an influx of poor-quality, low-cost foreign imports.

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In comparison, a major benefit of the twist-on connector is that it’s incredibly easy to create a secure, safe connection that will not relax over time. We’d say it’s about 50 per cent quicker to use a twist-on connector than a terminal strip, as an electrician only needs to push and twist the wires into the connector for them to be securely fastened, without the need for screws or tools. A unique ‘live-action’ square wire spring locks onto the wire on the first 360° turn, forming threads on the conductors as they are drawn completely into the connector body.

Of course, push-in connectors also have the ability to connect wires quickly and securely. The wire is easily pushed in, with just a low level of force, and a spring holds the wire in place. And, thanks to a transparent casing, an electrician can visually check that the wire is in the correct position.

Push-in products have therefore become very popular – however, twist-on connectors can be used in a wider range of applications. Push-in connectors were originally developed for lighting applications, and are only rated up to 24 Amps, so their use can be limited. In comparison, some twist-on connectors can accommodate multiple 6mm2 or 10mm2 wire and are rated up to 57 Amps, yet are still small enough to fit easily within standard junction boxes or connector enclosures.

And, as well as having an exceptional wire range capacity, twist-on connectors also have a unique capability to accept solid and stranded wire combinations.

In addition, push-in products are designed to only be used once – as the wire can’t be pulled out easily – but in comparison, twist-on connectors are reusable. An electrician just needs to twist the wires in the opposite direction to release them, which can be very useful if a wire needs to be added, or taken away.

Weather-proof twist-on connectors are also available, which feature a silicone-based gel to protect against moisture and corrosion and are rated to IP55 according to IEC/EN 60529. This ensures superior performance for connections exposed to rain or damp conditions.

IDEAL is heavily investing in the connector market and recently launched the Twister PRO twist-on connector, which features advanced SureGrip technology and a swept-wing design, for improved leverage and more torque. This reduces user fatigue and means it takes less effort to connect even large wire combinations, saving time and, in turn, money.

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