When wiring cars, trucks, campers, trailers, boats, and other low-voltage applications, heat-shrink wire connectors are a fantastic way to quickly achieve durable, dependable, and weatherproof connections. Different materials used for heat shrink, each with useful properties, are available. How to use heat shrink wire connectors?
If you frequently fix wiring, it’s a good idea to keep a variety of heat-shrink connectors, a reliable crimper, and a heat gun on hand. For quick and simple splices to repair wire damage caused by corrosion, rodents, or other causes, heat-shrink butt splice connectors in particular are very useful to have on hand. Depending on the circumstance, they may be applied for both temporary and long-term repairs.
Learn more about heat shrink wire connectors and how to use them by reading the rest of this article.
What Is Heat Shrink Tubing?
Heat shrink tubing (also known as heat shrink) is a shrinkable plastic tube with many useful applications in electronics work. Heat causes it to shrink along its radius, hence the name.
Heat shrink is offered in a wide range of materials, hues, and dimensions. There is a heat shrink that is appropriate for that particular application, regardless of the wire size, shrinkage requirement, or environmental requirements.
Uses Of Heat Shrink
Due to its characteristics, heat shrink tubing can be used in a variety of applications. Although it can also be used with other objects, the majority of these are related to wires and cables. Here are a few of the most common uses for heat shrink.
Electrically insulating wires, solder joints, splices, and terminals are one of the primary uses for heat shrink tubing. As a result of heat shrink’s non-conductive nature, it creates a barrier that stops unintentional short circuits.
Heat shrink can be utilized for repairs in addition to insulating electrical connections. A piece of shrink tubing, for instance, can be used to quickly fix a wire with damaged insulation and exposed copper.
Heat shrink tubing offers protection not just from mechanical harm. It also offers defense against liquids like water, oil, or acids. Heat shrink also prevents the entry of dust and other unwelcome small particles.
Heat shrink is a great way to add a layer of physical protection from abrasion, unintentional cuts, or scuffs in situations where moving parts have the potential to be damaged.
Heat shrink can be used to protect a variety of connectors, wires, and solder joints because its shape changes to fit the components it surrounds.
Mechanical stresses on wires can be relieved using strain relief. In applications like phone chargers, for instance, where wires are frequently pulled or moved, this is crucial. Fragile wires easily break without a strain relief.
A piece of heat shrink tubing placed around the portion of the wire that bends is one of the simplest ways to add strain relief to cables. Due to this, some forces pass through the heat shrink and not the copper wire itself. This will significantly extend the wire’s lifespan.
If you work with electrical systems that have a lot of wires, you are aware of how useful it is to have them organized properly. For bundling loose wires, a heat shrink is a fantastic tool. It produces a neat result and is smaller than tie wraps.
Color-coding wires are yet another excellent use for heat shrink. There is no longer a need to purchase wire in a variety of colors when heat shrink is used to identify specific wires.
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Tools Used To Use Heat-shrink Connectors
Using the wrong tools is the most frequent error when using heat-shrink wire connectors, which is also the main cause of connections breaking. Heat-shrink connectors can become unreliable and frequently fail early if the incorrect tools are used to crimp and shrink them.
A high-quality crimper made specifically for use with heat-shrink connectors is the most crucial piece of equipment you’ll need to complete the task successfully. There are variations among crimp-on wire connectors and crimpers. The likelihood of improperly crimping the connector, deforming the metal-to-metal connection, harming the insulation, or all three increases when using the wrong crimper.
The Wirefly Crimping Tool For Heat Shrink Connectors is the crimper I used for this project; it has a lifetime warranty and quality that is comparable to crimpers costing three or four times as much. Wirefly also produces a Crimping Tool Set with Interchangeable Dies that can be used for practically any type of crimp-on wire connector that I am aware of if you frequently work with other kinds of crimped connectors. Although it has interchangeable jaws for various terminal and connector types, the tool itself is essentially unchanged.
Both of the crimpers that were previously mentioned are ratcheting crimpers. Because most of them won’t open back up until you’ve applied enough force to achieve a secure connection, ratcheting crimpers make it simpler to determine when you’ve done so. They can act as that third hand you’re always looking for by being partially closed around the connector to hold it in place while you insert the wire.
In other words, if you want well-crimped connections, the crimper is the one tool you shouldn’t skimp on. Don’t skimp on the crimp.
A wire stripper of some kind will also be necessary. Before crimping the wire ends, you’ll need to remove about 3/16 of an inch of insulation. An automatic wire stripper is an excellent investment if you frequently work with wiring because it makes the job quicker and simpler. If not, a less expensive wire stripper and the cutter will work just fine.
Finally, a heat gun is an additional tool you should have to install heat-shrink connectors. Yes, you can use a cigarette lighter or another flame-based source of heat if you insist, but you’re much more likely to burn the connector, the insulation on the wires, or yourself if you do. Providing dry, clean, controlled heat, heat guns are a cheap alternative. For DIY enthusiasts, they’re a good investment.
How To Use Heat Shrink Wire Connectors?
- The insulation on the wire ends should be removed with a wire stripper until the length of the connector’s barrel is reached. For the pink connectors I used in this trailer rewiring project, that equates to about 1/4 inch.
- Twist the conductor’s strands just a little bit before inserting them into the connector to prevent them from coming undone.
- When using butt splice connectors, check the metal barrel for a seam. If the male jaw of the crimper you’re using has a convex surface, place the female jaw of the crimping tool over the seam. If your crimper has flat jaws, it doesn’t matter which jaw the seam is against as long as it isn’t sideways.
- When using connectors like ring terminals, fork terminals, or hook terminals, the seam should be placed so that it will be on top when the terminal is mounted on the post of the bolt.
- Placing the connector’s barrel in the crimping tool, lightly ratchet the handle to hold the connector in place without crimping or bending it.
- The crimping tool must be fully squeezed after inserting the wire into the barrel to create the crimp. The majority of ratchet-style crimping tools only release after the barrel has been completely crimped.
- Shrink the insulation using a heat gun. Because of this, the crimped joint will have high levels of structural rigidity and weather resistance.
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