The Dos and Don’ts of Using Heat Shrink Connectors

Heat shrink connectors offer a simple and effective way to terminate cable and wire ends. They are available in many of the same styles as traditional connectors, including spade, ring and butt splice styles. While traditional connectors typically require crimping, though, heat shrink connectors require heat. When using heat shrink connectors, you should follow these dos and don’ts to ensure a proper connection.

Do Strip Insulation

You’ll need to strip some of the insulation off the end of the wires before installing a heat shrink connector on them. Heat shrink connectors are available in different sizes. The size of the heat shrink connector will determine how much insulation you need to strip off. For most heat shrink connectors, removing ½ inch to ¾ inch of insulation should suffice.

Do Check the Installation Requirements

Check the installation requirements when using heat shrink connectors. All heat shrink connectors, of course, require heat to install. Most of them contain heat-activated glue. When exposed to heat, the connector material will shrink and the glue will activate to hold the connector in place. There are some heat shrink connectors, however, that require crimping as well. You may need to crimp a heat shrink connector, followed by exposing it to heat.

Do Choose the Right Size

You’ll need to choose heat shrink connectors in the right size. They are typically measured in American Wire Gauge (AWG). The lower the AWG, the bigger the diameter. Heat shrink connectors must feature the same AWG as the cable or wire with which you intend to use them.

Don’t Expose to a Flame

Avoid exposing heat shrink connectors to a flame. When installing them, use a heat gun, instead. A heat gun is a handheld device that’s designed to gently blow hot air. Some of them have a maximum operating temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas others can reach temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

When compared to using a torch or other flame source, a heat gun is a more effective solution for installing heat shrink connectors. You’ll have complete control over the temperature. You can adjust the heat gun’s temperature so that it activates the glue within the heat shrink connector without jeopardizing the connector’s body.

Don’t Cut When Stripping

Make sure that you don’t accidentally cut through the wires when stripping the insulation. Even if it’s a partial cut that doesn’t go completely through the wire, you may need to replace it. To prevent this from occurring, use wire strippers rather than a utility knife or similar bladed tool.

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