Sometimes when wiring a car or in other jobs, you’ll need to join two wires together. There are different ways of doing this and soldering is one of the most common. You get the two wires together and then solder them to make a good connection. However, sometimes you wont have access to a soldering iron. In this article, I’ll show you how to connect two wires without soldering.
Crimping or twisting?
One way of joining wires is by using ‘crimp connectors’. Another way is by using the ‘twist method’. This article will focus on connecting wires using these two methods.
Preparing wires for a good connection?
Let’s look at how you should prepare the wires for a good connection. First, remove a part of the covering layer (insulation covering) from the ends of both the wires being joined.
To strip back wires you can cut back the plastic sheath with a knife, or you can use wire strippers. There are two types of wire strippers. Self-adjusting wire strippers and fixed wire stripper and crimping pliers. Self-adjusting can be more convenient but I prefer the fixed type.
Fixed pliers have the various gauges for stripping and then you also have the part that crimps the connectors. They’re easy to use, have more uses and are slimmer than the adjustable pliers. Use the wire stripper gauge to strip the wire.
How to connect two wires without soldering
If you plan to join the wires by twisting, remove the insulation layer a little more (a little over an inch) than you’d do when you using a crimp connector.
Next, wind both wires individually so you have two wires with the last inch bared wire with the fine wires tightly wound together.
Now take these two wires and place them together in an X with the ends of the insulation in the centre of the X. Now twist the two copper wires together tightly. When wound tight you should fold the twisted copper piece flat to one wire and cover with insulation tape
After you have the two wires ready for joining, bring in the base of the naked portion of the two parts together.
If you want to crimp the two wires together, the first part of the process is the same as with twisting. Bare the copper wires from the insulation covering.
You will need much less bare wire when using crimp connectors than if you twisting them. Usually, you’ll only need to bare 6mm or 1/4 inch on each wire when inserting into a butt connector.
Put the wires into each side of the connector and then squeeze your crimping pliers once on each side of the connector. That’s it, a good tight protected join.
In the case of twisting, start twisting them really tight together all the way to the top. Make sure that you make the twisting really tight. After you are done twisting the two naked wires portion together to the top, bend the twisted portion into half.
Now lay the twisted portion over either side of the joined wires. So you have completed the skeletal framework and now you have to seal it.
This method of joining keeps the wire flexible. Unlike the solder it doesn’t get brittle and hard with time, so, it will continue to bend.
How to cover the bare wires?
In the case of twisting, after you have the wires twisted, it is time to seal up the twisted portion since it is bare.
Slide the shrink tubing along the wire until it is over the joined wires. It should cover at least 12mm or 1/2″ on each side of the bare wires.
Now, using a heat gun, gently heat the tubing until it shrinks nicely over the wires. I say gently heat the tubing because if you use too much heat you can melt the shrink tubing off.
This method is great if you can’t access the area with electrical tape or if you want a nice neat finish.
If shrink tubing is not available, then you can go for electrical tape for wrapping up the bare wire portion. Making sure the taping it tight, multiple layered and water proof.
However, taping doesn’t provide a secure covering like shrink tubing. Nevertheless, it will do the job. But it shouldn’t be a long-term solution.
If high current is passing through the wire connection, the adhesive on the tape can heat up and the tape can unravel.
This will cause a short circuit if other wires come in contact with the bare wire. Also the adhesive will work itself into the individual strands of wire which can lead to a bad connection.
Although soldering is a great way to connect two wires, sometimes soldering is not an option. There are other ways to join two wires together such as crimping connectors and twisting bare wires together.
Crimping is when we connecting two wires using a connector. Usually, butt connectors are most often used.
Twisting involves twisting the naked part of the two pieces of wires tight and strong. Then the twisted part is bent alongside one wire and the join is covered either using electric tape or shrink tubing.
You can either use a shrink tube or electrical tape to cover bare wires. Usually shrink tubing is not used over butt connectors as many butt connectors are insulated.
Shrink tubing could be used if the connector has no insulated covering or if the connector is a different colour to the wire.
Some lesser quality electric tapes can come undone. It is advised that tapes should only be used for wire connections which will be short-term fixes. Although I have seen electric tape holding well for many years.
It is suggested that wire connections which are made by twisting the wires and covered with electric tape should be replaced with either a butt connector or soldered connection. The connection should then be covered with shrink tubing.