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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16

    Default wiring outlets in a chain

    i plan on wiring 5 or 6 outlets indoors in a chain, i will be using 12-2 NM wire with a metal 4" box. i need clarification on a few points before i proceed please.

    1)for a single duplex outlet in a 4" box - is it better to feed the outlet from the top set of screws and continue out to the next from the bottom set OR pigtail 3 wires together ("in" from supply/"out" to next outlet/and outlet supply)

    2)for 2 duplex outlets in a 4" box - is it correct to
    pigtail 3 wires together - "in" from supply/"out" to next outlet/and "first" outlet supply and than supply the second outlet from the bottom set of screws on the first outlet?

    3)for grounding
    in each box will i be correct if i take the two ends of the bare copper ground and pigtail it to a green ground wire and then attach it to the grounding screw of the outlet, or for 2 duplex outlets in a 4" box make the same grounding pigtail with 4 wires

    AND

    should the metal box be grounded as well, and if so whats the easiest way to do it assuming you have 2 outlets in the box

    thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    249

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    If the box is metal you need to ground the box as well, it should have a green grounding screw with it. If not buy a pack.
    Personally I like the green wire nuts with a hole in the top to run a wire through and put the hook on the end of the wire that goes through the top.

    The rest I will not comment on as there are some electricians here.
    It's this old house, not this built after your dad was born house.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,622

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    Quote Originally Posted by toh409 View Post
    i plan on wiring 5 or 6 outlets indoors in a chain, i will be using 12-2 NM wire with a metal 4" box. i need clarification on a few points before i proceed please.

    1)for a single duplex outlet in a 4" box - is it better to feed the outlet from the top set of screws and continue out to the next from the bottom set OR pigtail 3 wires together ("in" from supply/"out" to next outlet/and outlet supply)
    Either way will work, however with the pig tail the receptacle can be removed without interrupting the other recepticals.
    2)for 2 duplex outlets in a 4" box - is it correct to
    pigtail 3 wires together - "in" from supply/"out" to next outlet/and "first" outlet supply and than supply the second outlet from the bottom set of screws on the first outlet?
    That will work and is OK.

    3)for grounding
    in each box will i be correct if i take the two ends of the bare copper ground and pigtail it to a green ground wire and then attach it to the grounding screw of the outlet, or for 2 duplex outlets in a 4" box make the same grounding pigtail with 4 wires
    Yes

    AND

    should the metal box be grounded as well, and if so whats the easiest way to do it assuming you have 2 outlets in the box
    Answered by function
    thanks
    That should take care of it.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    644

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    ditto both Function & Jack. As a personal preference I use the pigtail method with stranded green wire to attach switches and receptacles.

    The stranded wire prevents the common problem of a bare ground wire touching a live terminal. But, requires a little more skill especially if "side wired plate" devices are not used.

    This allows easy placement of the devices in a crowded box. Since Code requires at least a 1/4" space behind a device and the wiring, so no stress is placed on the yoke.

    If you're using 4" square boxes and possibly deep boxes, the pigtail method may not be so important.
    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, Hidden Content

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,418

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    I like to use pigtails, and use stranded wire from the wire nut to each receptacle. The stranded wire makes it easier to place the receptacle into the box.

    Spend a little more money and get the backwire receptacles where you insert the wire and tighten down the screw (not the "backstab" connectors that use spring pressure to make the connection). Besides being easier to wire, they are also a little more heavy-duty and will last longer.

    For the ground, I would pigtail to each receptacle AND a ground screw in the box. This means that on a "quad" receptacle there will be 5 wires in that wire nut, 2 of them solid and 3 stranded. Since wrapping stranded wire around screws doesn't work really well, I attach a crimp spade connector to the stranded ground pigtails to connect under the grounding screws on the receptacles and the boxes.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,419

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    My only disagreement is that you should use the pigtails at least on the first couple of boxes in the chain. You have a much smaller contact area at the side terminals than you would in a wire nut. All the current in the whole chain has to go through that first outlet if you don't use pigtails, I don't think that is a good idea.

    As you go down the chain, each successive outlet will likely carry less or the total current in the chain. Also look at the individual outlets. If this is a 20 amp circuit and each outlet is rated only for 15 amps, then you could overload the first couple of outlets even if nothing was plugged into them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    thanks for all the great replies i learned a lot.

    one other method i forgot to include for a "quad" is to feed from the top of outlet #1 jump from the bottom of # 1 to the bottom of #2 and feed out to the next on the line from the top of outlet #2. will this method also be acceptable?

    assuming all the outlets are for convenience and will not all be used simultaneously for heavy load item whats the max number you would feel comfortable running on a chain?

    also i have been advised by others that the practice of wrapping electrical tape around the wire nuts is amateur and should be avoided. i will have to guess that the same opinion holds true for wrapping the tape around the side of the outlets?

    thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,617

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    Personally, I think you're over-thinking this whole thing, making it more difficult than it needs to be.

    Your best option is to install pigtails off the main line at each outlet location to install the outlet. This way the power is carried through the entire circuit, as if no outlets were there at all.

    Wires should be twisted together before installing the wire nut. If you are careful about how much insulation you strip from the wire, and size the wire nuts to the number and size of the wires you have, then there is no need for electrical tape at the wire nuts. As for wrapping the sides of the outlet with electrical tape, IMHO, this depends on how close the contacts are to being shorted out by touching other things, such as the side of a metal box, fitting two outlets side by side in a double box, etc. If you are careful with your installation AND you're working on a dead circuit, then you can assemble everything without issues and won't need the tape. If you choose to work unsafely on a live circuit, then tape would be something to think about.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    644

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    Personally, I think you're over-thinking this whole thing, making it more difficult than it needs to be.

    Your best option is to install pigtails off the main line at each outlet location to install the outlet. This way the power is carried through the entire circuit, as if no outlets were there at all.

    Wires should be twisted together before installing the wire nut. If you are careful about how much insulation you strip from the wire, and size the wire nuts to the number and size of the wires you have, then there is no need for electrical tape at the wire nuts. As for wrapping the sides of the outlet with electrical tape, IMHO, this depends on how close the contacts are to being shorted out by touching other things, such as the side of a metal box, fitting two outlets side by side in a double box, etc. If you are careful with your installation AND you're working on a dead circuit, then you can assemble everything without issues and won't need the tape. If you choose to work unsafely on a live circuit, then tape would be something to think about.
    ditto Mr.Spruce
    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, Hidden Content

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    central pa
    Posts
    98

    Default Re: wiring outlets in a chain

    i agree with most everyone but i think if it is a 20 amp curcuit then it should be a 20 amp outlet regardless of how it is wired. and i am pretty sure that pa code doesnt allow strand wire for the supply ground is ok. but i would have to check not positive. but i do agree that pigtailing is the better way it puts less stress on the outlets. that being said i often do it the other way to because it is easier and still safe. and i also always wrap the outlets and switches with tape it is easy and just adds a little extra protection

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