Factors to Consider When Choosing Electrical Terminals

Electrical terminals are designed to initiate a power connection in any circuit. They help terminate a conductor/wire fixed to a stud, chassis, or post, and establish a power connection. These electrical terminals are available in various sizes and styles and you can choose the best one depending on screw size, wire gauge, and connection factors. This post guides you through some important considerations to be made when choosing a terminal for your next project.

Tips to Choose the Right Electrical Terminal for Your Application

The wiring terminals may look like basic items, but they still require some thoughtful consideration as any other type of connector. The following pointers will be helpful in this context.

1) Learn About Different Types of Electrical Terminals and Their Uses:Based on the shape, size, and functionalities, there are various types of electrical terminals. Here are some of them.

  • Ring terminals: They have a ring shaped structure which is used to mount the wires and connect the circuits on the circular flat surface. These are generally used for wires of 10-22 AWG gauge.
  • Spade terminals: These terminals resemble a spade or fork and have pretty sharp ends which make it easy to screw the wires. You need to aware of the wire amperage required for your application before choosing the terminal.
  • Disconnect terminals: There are male and female disconnects which have different types of insulation materials.
  • Butt splice connectors: These are used to connect end wires to make the network seamless. They are also used create a new connection or fix one between two wires.
  • Snap Plugs: These terminals are distinguished by their round tabs that takes less space than quick-disconnect terminals with flat tabs. You can select from nylon and vinyl insulated snap plugs for your application.
  • Piggyback Disconnects: These disconnects are designed to make multiple connections, especially when the number of male tabs are limited.
  • Tap Splices/Quick Splicers: These wire terminals are used to connect the wires of the same wire gauge. Quick splicers/tap splices can be used for an existing wire or a wire with a clean cut on the other end.
  • Closed End/Pigtail Connectors: The terminals are used to connect two or more wires. They feature a closed end, you can easily crimp on the wire connector to produce secured electrical connection points. 

All the above mentioned types of terminals are distinguished into two types – insulated and non-insulated. The insulated terminals feature an insulating cover, which protects the wire beneath from moisture, water, cold, and heat. This wire insulation is usually available as nylon, vinyl, and heat shrink. Among these, the heat shrink terminals are heat shrink insulated, which makes the wires and connections durable, safe, and free from corrosion and other parameters. Heat shrink terminals can be all the above types. These are commonly used in outdoor and other harsh operating environments.

2) Choose the Right Style of Male and Female Terminals: The male terminals are generally the blade side terminals, which are used to connect to T-taps, female spades, and so on. Sometimes, they can be used to replace any plug in a pinch. The female terminals are the socket side terminals, which are commonly used for connecting wires and components.

3) Use the Right Size of Terminal: Always choose the correct size wire terminal for the application. You must match them with the size and shape of the mechanical connector, as well as the gauge/size of the wire being terminated. For instance, you might need to use an 12-10 gauge wire with the ¼ " stud-type hole.

The insulated terminals are usually identified with the color codes which depict the range of sizes. For instance, the red insulated electrical terminal may be used in sizes from 22 to 18 gauge, blue for wires from 16 to 14 gauge, yellow for wires from 12 to 10 gauge, and so on.

If you are a network administrator or an electrician, or you need electrical terminals in your industrial application, it is wise to source them from a trusted and certified manufacturer and supplier. Ensure the supplier helps you choose the right type of connector based on your requirements. Electrical Basics is one such player that supplies a variety of electrical accessories including electrical terminals. They offer good quality products used for wire termination, routing, and management.