Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 54

Thread: Modern electrical outlets - side wiring with 12 gauge

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Las Cruces, NM
    Posts
    1,889

    Modern electrical outlets - side wiring with 12 gauge

    Do electricians "back wire" most modern electrical outlets when using 12 gauge wire?

    Years ago, electrical outlets were designed to be "side wired" by hooking the wire around a screw. Some also had holes where a wire could be connected by pushing it into the hole, but this method of wiring by "back stabbing" was reglarded as unreliable. Nowadays I find electrical outlets are designed so they can be "back wired" by pushing the end of the wire between metal plate and a screw that holds the plate. As I understand it, this method is regarded as reliable.

    I'd prefer to side-wire receptacles, but I find that it's very hard to fit 12 gauge wire around the screws of modern receptacles because the screws won't stay still due to their attachment to the plates needed for back wiring. The modern designs have the screw down in a recess where I can't fit a hooked wire without nearly taking the screw all the way off.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    715
    IF IT IS THE TYPE THAT THE SCREW TIGHTENS A CLAMP THEN it is the best way, better than side wired
    Leviton 5252 or equivalent
    Ron

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    56,612
    Backwired (with the clamping setup) is faster, easier and considered reliable, so that's why it's pretty popular. You can still side wire with the wrap if you prefer, but as you note, it's harder to do with the thicker 12 gage wire used in many circuits today. I always double check the clamping before I jockey the outlet into the box and 12 gage is fun there, too, because it doesn't bend as easily and that can put a good bit of pressure on the connection as you fold things together.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Backwired (with the clamping setup) is faster, easier and considered reliable, so that's why it's pretty popular. You can still side wire with the wrap if you prefer, but as you note, it's harder to do with the thicker 12 gage wire used in many circuits today. I always double check the clamping before I jockey the outlet into the box and 12 gage is fun there, too, because it doesn't bend as easily and that can put a good bit of pressure on the connection as you fold things together.

    Agree with all of that. Most duplex recepts now are rated 15A and 20A pass through. That is the reason that side wiring is hard for 12ga as most get 14ga. The installation gets easier if you pigtail all the wires and only bring two out to the recept. That way you can push the splices and bulky wire nuts to the back of the box and only bring the two pigtails out to the recept

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Posts
    2,923
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Tashiro View Post
    Do electricians "back wire" most modern electrical outlets when using 12 gauge wire?.
    No. Back in 1974, when I was a first year apprentice, I almost used the "stabs" in the back of the receptacle when my journeyman had a bit of a fit. "Don't ever use those things! They are a fire hazard!" Over the years I passed that on to any apprentices working with me.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    No. Back in 1974, when I was a first year apprentice, I almost used the "stabs" in the back of the receptacle when my journeyman had a bit of a fit. "Don't ever use those things! They are a fire hazard!" Over the years I passed that on to any apprentices working with me.
    To be clear, there are 3 types of connections:
    1) backstabbers, where the wire is inserted into a hole in the back of the receptacle, and is held in place by spring action; you can’t even physically use this for 12ga anymore; they are removed by snipping off the wire at the receptacle, because the wire is damaged and can’t be reused anyway.
    2) side wiring, where the wire is inserted into a hole or semi-circular depression in the back corner of the receptacle and tightened down/clamped to a conductive plate using one of the side screws; this is okay.
    3) loop wiring, where the wire is made u-shaped and looped around the screw clockwise and tightened down. This is also good, but is more prone to loosening than 2 if you’re not careful and lock/tighten the loop around the screw. In either case proper tightness must be observed (a torque wrench is useful, but most sparkies just do it by feel when the inspector isn’t looking. :^)

    Julie is referring to mode 1 (one).
    Last edited by Doug Dawson; 02-28-2021 at 4:20 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    715
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Dawson View Post
    To be clear, there are 3 types of connections:
    1) backstabbers, where the wire is inserted into a hole in the back of the receptacle, and is held in place by spring action; you can’t even physically use this for 12ga anymore; they are removed by snipping off the wire at the receptacle, because the wire is damaged and can’t be reused anyway.
    2) side wiring, where the wire is inserted into a hole or semi-circular depression in the back corner of the receptacle and tightened down/clamped to a conductive plate using one of the side screws; this is okay.
    3) loop wiring, where the wire is made u-shaped and looped around the screw clockwise and tightened down. This is also good, but is more prone to loosening than 2 if you’re not careful and lock/tighten the loop around the screw. In either case proper tightness must be observed (a torque wrench is useful, but most sparkies just do it by feel when the inspector isn’t looking. :^)

    Julie is referring to mode 1 (one).
    Agree with above
    I was referring to mode 2 using a different description, however the Leviton 5252, along with I believe Pass & Seymour 5252 and Hubbell 5252 are the type of receptacle I use

    Ron

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    5,499
    I had a thread, not too long ago, where I purchased several different types, and compared them. I think in the Shop forum.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Selzer View Post
    Agree with above
    I was referring to mode 2 using a different description, however the Leviton 5252, along with I believe Pass & Seymour 5252 and Hubbell 5252 are the type of receptacle I use
    You could call it side-wiring or back-wiring, but calling it back-wiring can be considered inflammatory. :^)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
    Posts
    6,500
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    No. Back in 1974, when I was a first year apprentice, I almost used the "stabs" in the back of the receptacle when my journeyman had a bit of a fit. "Don't ever use those things! They are a fire hazard!" Over the years I passed that on to any apprentices working with me.
    There are pictures here and elsewhere to back up your journeyman. Those are the ones that didn't burn the house down.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Okotoks AB
    Posts
    2,704
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    No. Back in 1974, when I was a first year apprentice, I almost used the "stabs" in the back of the receptacle when my journeyman had a bit of a fit. "Don't ever use those things! They are a fire hazard!" Over the years I passed that on to any apprentices working with me.
    I have a good example of what happens when the back stabber connections are used on my "wall of shame" Those things should never have been approved. The back connections that use the screws to tighten the wire are fine though.

    To digress a little though, I have used Wago connectors that use a similar captive spring to make the connections & they are reliable. Much better engineering & manufacturing with those though.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Posts
    2,923
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    I have a good example of what happens when the back stabber connections are used on my "wall of shame" Those things should never have been approved. The back connections that use the screws to tighten the wire are fine though.

    To digress a little though, I have used Wago connectors that use a similar captive spring to make the connections & they are reliable. Much better engineering & manufacturing with those though.
    Scotchlok makes what we called "suitcase" connectors.

    I first saw them on a job that had rows and rows of fluorescent fixtures, connected end-to-end, running down aisles. Pull the wire straight through the fixture housings, wire nut the last one and use those suitcase connectors for all the rest.

    When I saw how they worked I asked the foreman why we are using them and pointed out the universally accepted "no back stabs" as proof these connectors are a bad idea. To make patters worse, the tiny wire coming from the ballast was too small for the blade to firmly capture it. The foreman pointed out the labor savings using the suitcase connector and advised me to fold over the ballast wire to make a better connection. I replied with something to the effect, "I thought quality and safety were more important than making a buck." I was on that job for months but eventually the connectors began to fail. They, too, made the "Do not use" list.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Yorktown, VA
    Posts
    411
    For the most part you will see the back wiring push-in on residential work. All of the Commercial work we design we spec, requires side wiring.
    If the receptacle is UL listed, it has been tested and complies with UL testing requirements regardless of the connection method.
    The issue with residential wiring is most electrical contractor will use the smallest/shallowest single gang outlet box they can get to save money and when you leave 6" leads in the box, and you push the receptacle in the box, it will over bend the wire and that's usually what causes the stress issue.
    On commercial work, we require the contractors will provide 4"x4" square boxes with single gang raised drywall plates which leave plenty of room for the device and the wiring.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Okotoks AB
    Posts
    2,704
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    Scotchlok makes what we called "suitcase" connectors.
    I first saw them on a job that had rows and rows of fluorescent fixtures, connected end-to-end, running down aisles. Pull the wire straight through the fixture housings, wire nut the last one and use those suitcase connectors for all the rest.

    When I saw how they worked I asked the foreman why we are using them and pointed out the universally accepted "no back stabs" as proof these connectors are a bad idea. To make patters worse, the tiny wire coming from the ballast was too small for the blade to firmly capture it. The foreman pointed out the labor savings using the suitcase connector and advised me to fold over the ballast wire to make a better connection. I replied with something to the effect, "I thought quality and safety were more important than making a buck." I was on that job for months but eventually the connectors began to fail. They, too, made the "Do not use" list.
    I've never found an insulation displacing connector, even from 3M, that worked reliably for power applications.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Eastern Iowa
    Posts
    618
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Tashiro View Post
    Do electricians "back wire" most modern electrical outlets when using 12 gauge wire?

    Years ago, electrical outlets were designed to be "side wired" by hooking the wire around a screw. Some also had holes where a wire could be connected by pushing it into the hole, but this method of wiring by "back stabbing" was reglarded as unreliable. Nowadays I find electrical outlets are designed so they can be "back wired" by pushing the end of the wire between metal plate and a screw that holds the plate. As I understand it, this method is regarded as reliable.

    I'd prefer to side-wire receptacles, but I find that it's very hard to fit 12 gauge wire around the screws of modern receptacles because the screws won't stay still due to their attachment to the plates needed for back wiring. The modern designs have the screw down in a recess where I can't fit a hooked wire without nearly taking the screw all the way off.
    Not sure of the brand outlet you are using, but in theory those side wired clamping connection were designed so when turning the screw clockwise to tighten you were not exerting force pushing the wire out.

    Check, when you back the screw out as much as you can, rotate the outlet so the screw is on the bottom. The clamping bar should drop down. A #12 wire should slide in easily. That bar has a hump in it and the bottom plate has a corresponding hump. It will surround your conductor , increase surface contact, and apply even clamping pressure without applying force opposite the insertion angle. On the outlets I have used, if you try to put the conductor between the screw and the clamp, you lose 2x the height of that hump.
    Comments made here are my own and, according to my children, do not reflect the opinions of any other person... anywhere, anytime.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •