Without a doubt, the best way to crimp wire connectors is with a crimping tool. It crashes the connectors so well to create a gas-tight cold weld joint between the connector barrel and cable.
But what do you do when you don’t have a crimping tool at hand? Is it possible to crimp connectors without a crimper? Can you use pliers?
Well, this article attempts to answer these questions. You will learn whether it is possible to crimp wire connectors with regular pliers and how to do it effectively.
Can you crimp wire connectors with regular pliers?
The simple answer is yes! You can crimp wire terminal connectors with pliers. However, you will not get as good of a crimp as with dedicated crimping pliers. This is because the teeth of regular pliers are designed for gripping and not crimping.
Also, regular pliers cannot crimp insulated terminal connectors. You must remove the insulation cover first so that you can squeeze the bare metal barrel. Once you compress the metal, you can return the insulation or apply a heat shrink tube.
It also takes more time to crimp a single connector with ordinary pliers than you would with the correct tool.
That being said, it is still better to crimp a terminal connector with ordinary pliers than not crimp the wire at all. But you need to compress the connector all around the wire to secure it in place. You might also need to do a lot more to the wire connector to secure it in place permanently.
Why are crimp terminal connectors important?
I have shared in length the benefits of crimping wire connectors in another article. One of the key advantages of crimp connectors is that they help to make electrical connections that are easy to connect and disconnect quickly.
Another benefit is that crimp connectors provide custom configurations for terminating stranded wires to different types of terminals. Common crimp connector types are spade, fork, ring, butt, and bullet.
Lastly, crimp connectors keep stripped wire ends of stranded wires from fraying and becoming disastrous. Check out this article to learn more about crimp connectors and why you should use them in your electrical projects.
How to crimp wire connectors with pliers
Tools you will need:
- Needles nose pliers
- Linesman pliers
- Wire stripper pliers
- Solder gun and solder wire
- Heat shrink tube
- Heat gun
Step 1: Select the right size of crimp connector
Determine the size of wire you want to terminate and pick the appropriate crimp connector size. The wire size should be within the size range of the connector.
Some non-insulated terminal connectors have the size stamped on the metal. Others are not marked. You have to fund the right size.
If you are using an insulated terminal, use the color of the insulation to determine the size of the connector.
Wire crimp connector sizes based on color codes
Metric sizes: Yellow = 2.5mm2 – 6mm2; Blue = 1.5mm2 – 2.5mm2; Red = 0.5mm2 – 1.5mm2
Standard wire gauge: Yellow = 12AWG – 10AWG; Blue = 16AWG – 14AWG; Red = 22AWG – 16AWG
Step 2: Strip away the insulation cleanly
Use wire stripper pliers to remove insulation from the end of the wire. Make sure the wire stripper cuts cleanly into the insulation and does not sever wire strands.
How much insulation do you strip away? Remove enough length of insulation to expose a conductor core that is slightly longer than the metal barrel. This will ensure that a tiny bit of the conductor will stick out of the connector barrel.
Step 3: Remove the connector insulation
If you want to crimp an insulated terminal, first remove the plastic cover. Use linesman pliers or any other regular pliers to grip the metal end and needle nose to grip the plastic cover and pull it out.
Skip this step if you are dealing with an uninsulated terminal crimp.
Step 4: Insert the stripped wire end into the connector barrel
Gently push the stripped wire end into the connector barrel. Make sure the mouth of the barrel touches the insulation of the wire and that a tiny bit of the conductors come out on the other end.
Also, make sure all the strands fit inside the barrel. If all the wire strands cannot fit, you need a bigger crimp connector.
Step 5: Crimp the connector with regular pliers
Squeeze the connector onto the wire with needle nose or linesman pliers. Compress the connector all around to avoid flattening it so that the plastic cover can fit again.
If you don’t intend to put back the old insulation cover or are installing a non-insulated connector, then you don’t have to worry about flattening the connector.
Squeeze the terminal connector until it attaches tightly to the conductor.
Step 6: Solder the crimp connector
Because regular pliers do not crimp wire connectors as perfectly as crimping pliers, you will need to solder the joint to make it stronger.
Place the crimped terminal connector onto a hot soldering gun and let it heat. Then melt the solder wire onto the connector joint and let it spread into the wire strands.
A dab of solder will secure the connector permanently and keep it from wiggling or rattling.
Step 6: Perform a tug test
As with any crimped terminal, the tug test is the ultimate way to find out if the connector is securely in place. Grip the connector with one hand and use the other hand to pull the wire to see if the connector comes off or if there is play.
A well-crimped connector won’t come off to a pull or a tug. If it comes off, repeat the process until you do it right.
Step 6: Cover the electrical connector pin with insulation
Insulate the connector terminal. You have three options: 1) put back the original plastic cover if you are dealing with an insulated connector, 2)wrap the wire connector with insulation tape, or 3) cover with a heat shrink tube
A heat shrink tube is the best for insulating a terminal connector, especially when you want a watertight seal. You will, however, need a heat gun to shrink the tube.
Well, that is how to crimp wire terminal connectors with regular pliers when you do not have a crimping tool. You can crimp both open and closed barrel connectors. Soldering secures the crimp connector in place.