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Stranded electrical wires are more flexible and easier to bend than solid-core conductors. They are less likely to break than solid core when you subject them to frequent flexing. Which is one of the reasons you will find them inside electrical equipment where space is limited and wires have to be bent to fit. Stranded wire cables are also common in automotive wiring. But they have one serious problem; the wire strands can be a menace if not properly managed. This is why you have to think of wire ferrule crimps and ferrule crimping pliers when dealing with stranded wires.
Why can stranded conductors be a problem?
If you do not manage the strands of a flexible cable properly after stripping it, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. The unmanaged wire strands can get into the wrong places in your circuitry and short things up.
Sometimes if you are connecting the stranded wire to a screw terminal, the screw can split the strands apart resulting in a poor electrical connection. The poor connection can easily become a high resistance point in your circuitry, especially for high currents. And with high electrical resistance, you can expect electrical losses to increase through heating. Moreso, if the heat is too much, it could burn or deteriorate the surrounding circuit boards and electronic components.
Needless to say, frayed wire strands are a potential safety hazard. They can either prick your skin or expose you to electrical shock.
So, whether you are wiring up an industrial machine or a power supply for your hobby project or connecting flexible wire cable to a block or circuit breaker, you need a reliable way to do it. One way is to twist the strands of the stripped wire-end and solder them together. Another way is to use a wire terminal crimp. But the best method is to crimp a wire ferrule to securely hold the individual strands together.
In this article, I look at ferrule crimping and more importantly, the best ferrule crimper pliers for securing ferrule sleeves.
What is a wire ferrule?
A wire ferrule is a thin metal tube for terminating the ends of a stripped stranded wire. It holds the strands together to keep them nice and neat. Unlike crimp connectors do not provide different connector configurations. They are only metal sleeves for managing the stripped ends of flexible cable to keep the strands from fraying out when inserting into connectors.
A wire ferrule is easy to install. You just slide it over the stripped wire end and compress it with a crimper. While you can regular crimpers of pliers to compress the ferrule, the outcome is not that great. The best tool for installing wire ferrules is a wire ferrule crimper tool. This is a special type of pliers designed for crimping ferrules securely onto the stripped wire end. You can learn more about ferrule crimpers and how to install them in the article on how to install ferrules.
How to choose the best ferrule crimper pliers
There are many types of wire ferrule crimping tools and choosing the best one can be a task. But this buying guide should help you pick the tool that will bring the most value. So, what factors should you consider?
Factors to consider when buying a ferrule crimper for cable
1. Crimp profile
Ferrule crimpers have different crimp profiles. The best are either square or hexagonal profiles. A square profile ferrule crimper compresses a ferrule sleeve to form a four-sided terminal. On the other hand, hex profile ferrule crimping pliers deform a round ferrule sleeve into a six-sided terminal.
Both of these crimp profiles create a firm terminal but are suitable for different applications. A square profile crimp fits better in rectangular-shaped terminal connections while hex profile crimps fit better into round shape terminal blocks. That being said, hex crimped ferrules have a slight advantage over other crimp profiles when dealing with small ferrule sleeves. From experience, the extra crimping points of a hex ferrule crimper result in a significantly firmer crimp.
You can tell the type of profile on a ferrule crimping tool by counting the number of teeth on the zigzag crimper. Hexagonal ferrule crimping pliers have 6 teeth while square ferrule crimpers have 4 teeth.
2. Ratcheting or non-ratcheting crimping action
Cable ferrule crimping pliers operate either through a ratcheting or non-ratcheting action. The best ferrule crimpers are those that utilize a ratchet mechanism to compress the crimps. The ratcheting action ensures you apply less force on the handle to achieve the same or better crimping quality than you would with a non-ratcheting crimper.
In fact, because ferrule crimpers with a ratcheting action require less hand strength, they are called labor-saving crimpers. They are so easy to use even for teens and the elderly.
3. Crimp capacity
Another important consideration when shopping for a wire ferrule crimper is the crimp capacity. This is the range of wire gauges the crimping pliers can accept. Unless you work with specific wire gauges, I suggest you select a ferrule crimper that can press ferrules on general wire sizes. Ideally, a crimping range of 10AWG to 20AWG should suffice.
However, if you want to be sure that the crimper can work with specific wire sizes, I would advise that you check the size of the wire cable first. You will find wire size imprinted on the cable jacket or insulation. That way, you will be sure that the crimper isn’t too big or too small for your application.
4. Extra Accessories
Flexible cable ferrule crimpers either come as a bare tool or as a kit. The kit includes an assortment of different sizes of ferrules. Some ferrule crimping tool kits even include a compartmentalized carry case for both the tool and the collection of ferrule crimps.
I recommend that you get the kit instead of the bare tool, especially if you are just getting started with ferrules. It will save you from the hassle of having to buy the wire ferrule sleeves separately. But if you already have enough ferrules for your project, you can save some money by spending on the tool alone.
5. Overall build
Like any type of pliers, a good wire ferrule crimping pliers tool should be easy-to-use, light, and comfortable in your hands. As such, you should look for features such as comfort-grip handles, the weight of the tool, and of course labor-saving mechanisms such as the ratcheting action.
Best Wire Ferrule Crimping Pliers
Preciva Ferrule Hexagonal Crimping Tool Kit – Best Starter Set
Sturdy, inexpensive, and great value for money is the best way to describe the preciva bootlace ferrule crimping pliers kit.
- Made from copper alloy
- Length: 9.65″
- Crimping capacity: 23 – 10 AWG
- Includes 1900 ferrules
- Comes with zippered bag
What’s in the kit?
The kit comes in a nice zippered case and includes the hexagonal Preciva ferrule crimping tool and a fully loaded assortment of insulated bootlace ferrule crimps. The 1900 pieces of assorted ferrule sleeves are color coded and come packed nicely in a partitioned plastic storage box . The plastic container fits very well inside the zippered carry case.
Outstanding features of the Preciva ferrule crimper
The Preciva HSC8 6-6A ferrule crimping pliers are an upgrade from the HSC8 6-4A Preciva crimper. They have a six-sided sawtooth jaw compared to the predecessor’s square-style crimp. Although the difference in the crimping quality of hex vs square crimps is barely noticeable, it is a proven fact that hex crimped ferrules fit better in round terminals. This is because hexagonal crimps are closer to round and thus provide more contact points inside a round connector. Moreover, there is a noticeable difference in the crimping quality on small ferrules. Hex-style crimpers tend to compress small ferrules better than square-style crimpers.
Ratcheting style with a jaw pressure adjustment cam
Both crimpers utilize a ratcheting mechanism for pressing the ferrules. This reduces hand fatigue by allowing you to compress ferrules in incremental steps. The ratcheting action also saves time and labor and makes it possible to lock onto a ferrule sleeve before inserting the wire, especially in tight spaces.
Instead of the typical extra spacers, the ratcheting action of the Preciva tool has an adjustment cam for tweaking the pressure the jaws apply onto the ferrule sleeves. This feature helps you control the pressure you exert on the ferrule tubes to prevent the jaws from puncturing them or not crimping tight enough. It also increases the usability of the tool even on small ferrules such as the 24AWG size.
To increase the pressure so that the jaws grip tighter, you turn the screw clockwise. To reduce the jaw pressure, you untighten the screw. and vise versa.
The Preciva wire ferrule crimper has nice ergonomic handles for maximum comfort and improved gripping power. The handles as so comfortable that you can use the tool all day without getting blistered.
The price for the Preciva ferrule crimping kit is unbeatable. It is such a good value for money, especially with the bonus of 1900 wire ferrules pieces that can last a lifetime.
There is only one downside I can point to on the Preciva wire ferrule crimping pliers. The pliers are very nice and well made but they lack the smoothness of a heavy duty crimper such as the Knipex. They tend to stick occasionally when springing back open and the matching mechanism is a bit stiffer. This is what makes it a great DIY tool for crimping ferrules on your electrical projects at home or small shop. But you can still use them professionally for terminating small stranded wires.
Overall, the price of the preciva ferrule crimping kit makes it an excellent starter pack for home and DIY electrical projects. You may also use it professionally if you are just getting started in the electrical field or if you deal in small and medium size conductors. However, you may still want to get a more heavy-duty wire ferrule crimper like Knipex in the long run.
Knipex 97 53 04 Square Wire Ferrule Crimper Kit – Best Professional Set
If you are an industrial maintenance tech or career electrician, you know that many times your potential to deliver good work will be judged by the perceived quality of the tools you carry. And the Knipex wire ferrule crimper goes a long way in building your case.
- Made from chrome vanadium steel
- Square crimper
- Crimping capacity: 28 – 6 AWG
- Easy ratcheting mechanism
- Comes with a hard plastic carry case
Knipex pliers are adored all over because of their proven and tested quality. If you happen to have them in your tool bag, they will create a professional impression of you. So, why not get the professional Knipex ferrule crimper to boost your profile as a career electrician or industrial control tech?
What’s in the kit besides the big name?
Besides the badass impression they create and the big name, the Knipex ferrule crimping pliers actually are exceptional. They come both as a bare tool or kit. The kit includes heavy-duty crimping pliers 97 53 04 and a ton of color-coded insulated ferrules. The assorted end sleeves are packed nicely in a partitioned systainer and include all the sizes you would need between 0.08mm2 and 16mm2.
Key features of the Knipex 97 53 04 ferrule crimper
Self-adjusting ratcheting mechanism
Like the Preciva, the Knipex crimper for end sleeves uses a ratcheting mechanism to close the crimping jaws. However, the ratcheting is a lot smoother and amplifies your force a lot better. This allows you to do most of the crimping with one hand, including large conductors.
Unlike the Preciva HSC8 6-6 that has six-sided jaws, the Knipex 97 53 04 pliers have 4-sided crimping slot. This means that they crimp end sleeves to a square shape, which fit better into square terminal connectors. But there is a hex-style version of the Knipex ferrule crimping tool. Its product number is 97 53 14. It compresses ferrule tubes to a hex shape, suitable for round connectors.
Bigger crimping capacity
Unlike the preciva that only offers a crimping capacity of 20 – 10 AWG (0.25mm2 to 10mm2), Knipex crimper can compress ferrules of sizes 0.08mm2 to 16mm2 (28 – 6 AWG). This means that the tool is more suitable for industrial applications were the wire sizes may vary from very small to large. For example, you will find 24 AWG stranded cables or above in the communication lines of industrial PLC machines and you would need the Knipex to crimp them.
Ease of use
The Knipex 97 53 04 crimp tool is generally easy to use. It has a smooth ratcheting action and it is easy to adjust the crimping slot by hand to accept various wire sizes. The tool is also comfortable in the hand. The plastic on the handles feels a bit smoother and gentler.
The only downside of the Knipex is the prohibitive price. It costs at least 5 times more than the Preciva but it is really worth the price. You get what you pay for.
Overall, Knipex 97 53 04 self-adjusting crimping pliers stand out in terms of quality. They feel better, edges are smoother, the handles move more smoothly, and converts your clamping force into crimping force more efficiently. You will hardly need to use both hands to press an end sleeve. I recommend them to any industrial technician, especially if you deal in stranded conductors as large as 6 AWG or as small as 28 awg.