Soldering or splicing

Hopefully this is in the correct forum section.

So, I'm realizing that 10awg wire is NOT easy to solder with an electric soldering iron. I have a Weller 250 gun, but even so... If I decide to use screw type splice connectors (non-solder) for my 10 awg wire will that affect my voltage drop excessively?

Or maybe invest in a butane style soldering gun to get the wire up to soldering temp, huh?

Suggestions for connecting heavy gauge wire for lowest voltage drop?

thanks,

Hairfarm
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Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    You could always use crimp connectors, using a hammer type crimper.


    http://www.solar-electric.com/hacrtoforlal.html

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Sometimes the type of connection to use depends on the application and location too.
    Screw-clamp connections, crimped lugs, even wire nuts can be used in certain circumstances.
    Voltage drop is not a concern for connections; if it causes any, the connection is no good.

    I've never had any trouble soldering 10 AWG. Twist-wrap a butt joint (end-to-end), solder secure, seal with heat shrink tubing. Use the type with glue in it and it will even work outdoors (standard automotive practice).
  • HairfarmHairfarm Solar Expert Posts: 225 ✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Sometimes the type of connection to use depends on the application and location too.
    Screw-clamp connections, crimped lugs, even wire nuts can be used in certain circumstances.
    Voltage drop is not a concern for connections; if it causes any, the connection is no good.

    I've never had any trouble soldering 10 AWG. Twist-wrap a butt joint (end-to-end), solder secure, seal with heat shrink tubing. Use the type with glue in it and it will even work outdoors (standard automotive practice).

    Like this: http://chevythunder.com/twist_wires_together.jpg

    Or like this: http://imagesdesavions.com/2m/mesh.jpg

    My soldering gun can't seem to heat up the wire enough to melt the solder onto it.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,007 admin
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    If you use solder, make sure the wire is well supported--Stranded wire can concentrate the bending forces right were the solder stops wicking up the strands (pivoting, vibration, etc.).

    And, make sure you use electrical rated flux and solder, not plumbing rated.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Mind you, "irons" come in quite a few different sizes these days. From the tiny battery-powered ones to 25 Watt 'pencils' to 80 Watt irons. And of course "guns" and variable temperature stations.

    Shame they had to ban real (lead) solder, as it had a broader operating temperature. This safe stuff is a bloody nuisance.
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Hairfarm wrote: »
    Like this: http://chevythunder.com/twist_wires_together.jpg

    Or like this: http://imagesdesavions.com/2m/mesh.jpg

    My soldering gun can't seem to heat up the wire enough to melt the solder onto it.

    Not sure either of those are appropriate. When butt-soldering wires, a "Western Union" splice is best.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Union_splice

    Complete the splice, in the usual manner, then solder and cover with double-walled heat shrink.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    tallgirl wrote: »
    Not sure either of those are appropriate. When butt-soldering wires, a "Western Union" splice is best.

    But not really great for stranded conductors or for large gauge wires, both of which are common in PV work.
    Of course for really large gauge wires some sort of mechanical connector or a cadweld is better anyway.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    inetdog wrote: »
    But not really great for stranded conductors or for large gauge wires, both of which are common in PV work.
    Of course for really large gauge wires some sort of mechanical connector or a cadweld is better anyway.

    Western Union splicing stranded conductors works just fine, and I'm not sure I'd call a #10 (what Cariboocoot mentioned) "large". Practice making Western Union splices helps as well. The key is that Western Union splices are mechanical strong, whereas the other sorts of splices mentioned aren't. Solder, especially high lead solder (like a 60/40) has little or no mechanical strength.

    Still -- much better to avoid the need for splicing in the first place.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Hairfarm wrote: »
    Suggestions for connecting heavy gauge wire for lowest voltage drop?
    There is no "lowest voltage drop"; the bigger the wire the lower the drop and there's no end to it. You have to balance what is the least Vd you can accept with the cost of the wire. As to connections, I'm pretty sure that the Code says (somewhere) that soldering is acceptable for splicing only as long as the solder is not the sole means of attachment. Most of the time we use Polaris lugs for splicing connections and wire size transitions.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Shame they had to ban real (lead) solder, as it had a broader operating temperature. This safe stuff is a bloody nuisance.

    Surprise! At least it was for me. I just received some from these guys, along with some 12 volt relays and other stuff. Found service excellent. Ordered online and they delivered. Solder price was a lot better than I had expected.
    Minimum Order:$50.00 minimum for merchandise, shipping extra.
    http://www.abra-electronics.com/categories/Soldering/
    Not sure where it comes from, Quebec I think, but anyway no import duties etc for me.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Well of course Quebec is a foreign country .... :p
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,359 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    electrical (rosin core solder) protects the joint from corrosion, but you have to have things clean and hot enough, for the solder to flow on it's own, not just globbing it on like metallic hot melt glue. And Julie is right, solder is weak, so a decent splice/mechanical connection has to be present first. With a couple of #10 wires, you will likely heat the copper so much, it's going to melt the insulation quite a ways down the wire. Not good.
    You are likely going to be better off to put in a large enough pull box, and use wire nuts with moisture proof goop, or split bolt splices.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • HairfarmHairfarm Solar Expert Posts: 225 ✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    inetdog wrote: »
    But not really great for stranded conductors or for large gauge wires, both of which are common in PV work.
    Of course for really large gauge wires some sort of mechanical connector or a cadweld is better anyway.

    Exactly my problem. The 10 gauge wire I'm using is of a heavy stranded type. That's why this method would not work for me: http://makezineblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/western-union-or-linemans-splice.jpg?w=514&h=580

    This is what I've been trying so far: http://bmwvmca.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=367&Itemid=37

    But I can't seem to get it hot enough to all around the wire. I already have a hammer crimp so maybe I'll go that route instead.

    If you use solder, make sure the wire is well supported--Stranded wire can concentrate the bending forces right were the solder stops wicking up the strands (pivoting, vibration, etc.).

    I've noticed this too.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    The problem with soldering a splice is not the solder joint strength itself, which is pretty good if done correctly -- the problem, as Bill has stated, it the points where the stiffened soldered wire meets unsoldered wire. Flexion at these points can lead to breaks.

    For joining 10 AWG PV wire to 10 AWG THHN, I've used the inexpensive, yellow insulated 10 gauge butt splices which are easily crimped with good crimpimg pliers. Covered with adhesive lined double wallled shrink tubing its makes a fine splice.
  • HairfarmHairfarm Solar Expert Posts: 225 ✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    mtdoc wrote: »
    The problem with soldering a splice is not the solder joint strength itself, which is pretty good if done correctly -- the problem, as Bill has stated, it the points where the stiffened soldered wire meets unsoldered wire. Flexion at these points can lead to breaks.

    For joining 10 AWG PV wire to 10 AWG THHN, I've used the inexpensive, yellow insulated 10 gauge butt splices which are easily crimped with good crimpimg pliers. Covered with adhesive lined double wallled shrink tubing its makes a fine splice.


    Ok. I'll give that a try. Nice cheap solution too! I can still put heat shrink on it too when I'm done for an extra layer of weather proofing for when it gets up to 113 degrees in the summer while it's also raining at the same time (monsoons) :cry:
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Hairfarm wrote: »
    Ok. I'll give that a try. Nice cheap solution too! I can still put heat shrink on it too when I'm done for an extra layer of weather proofing for when it gets up to 113 degrees in the summer while it's also raining at the same time (monsoons) :cry:

    Then definitely use the adhesive lined! Also, non PV wire should probably be in conduit with splices accessible in a J- box.
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Hairfarm wrote: »
    Exactly my problem. The 10 gauge wire I'm using is of a heavy stranded type. That's why this method would not work for me: http://makezineblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/western-union-or-linemans-splice.jpg?w=514&h=580

    This is what I've been trying so far: http://bmwvmca.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=367&Itemid=37

    But I can't seem to get it hot enough to all around the wire. I already have a hammer crimp so maybe I'll go that route instead.

    That's what I'd call a "Wishful Thinking Splice". There's absolutely NO mechanical strength to that splice. The other thing is you need to put the heat shrink on the OTHER side of the alligator clip. The reason is that the heat will flow from the splice outward, including to the heat shrink. By putting the heat shrink on the other side of the alligator clips, they become a heat sink.

    And speaking of heat sinks, the free space to the clips needs to be as long as practical. If you have a way to pre-heat the joint that might help -- I have a reflow rework station for doing surface mount component repairs. It comes in handy.
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    mtdoc wrote: »
    The problem with soldering a splice is not the solder joint strength itself, which is pretty good if done correctly -- the problem, as Bill has stated, it the points where the stiffened soldered wire meets unsoldered wire. Flexion at these points can lead to breaks.

    Copper, which is rather ductile, is much stronger than lead. The ultimate tensile strengths differ by a factor of 5, more or less.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    tallgirl wrote: »
    Copper, which is rather ductile, is much stronger than lead. The ultimate tensile strengths differ by a factor of 5, more or less.
    Very true, but still the mention of flexing where the solder ends in stranded wire is something to consider. At that exact point, there is a sudden and dramatic change in flexibility. The finer the strands, the more dramatic the change. If there will be no ongoing flexing in that area beyond initial installation, all will be fine, but if by chance there is ongoing vibration and flexing at that point, that's when breakage problems eventually crop up.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Very true, but still the mention of flexing where the solder ends in stranded wire is something to consider. At that exact point, there is a sudden and dramatic change in flexibility. The finer the strands, the more dramatic the change. If there will be no ongoing flexing in that area beyond initial installation, all will be fine, but if by chance there is ongoing vibration and flexing at that point, that's when breakage problems eventually crop up.
    Yep, it concentrates the metal fatigue. I have seen that a lot in soldered audio cables that get a lot of flexing; the wires always break right at the point where the solder has stopped wicking into the strands.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,007 admin
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Yep, copper work hardens very nicely--No longer ductile and fails quickly at that point (due to flexing).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    :confused: What do you people do with your wiring that it receives all this flexing at joints causing it to break? :confused:

    :p
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    :confused: What do you people do with your wiring that it receives all this flexing at joints causing it to break? :confused:

    :p

    My steel clad solar shed is built to flex under the strain of wind so it won't be destroyed. In very high winds it lays almost flat, then when the storm passes, it straightens back up. Thought you knew that - - - - - -
    Hahahahahaha
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Well Wayne, you need to fasten the wires at the soldered joints securely to the shed. Then make sure you've got a couple of big wire loops at the shed pivot points so that they can take the flexing.

    It's simple, really. :D
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Hahahaha You have a good point there coot, I'll have to look into that :D
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Very true, but still the mention of flexing where the solder ends in stranded wire is something to consider. At that exact point, there is a sudden and dramatic change in flexibility. The finer the strands, the more dramatic the change. If there will be no ongoing flexing in that area beyond initial installation, all will be fine, but if by chance there is ongoing vibration and flexing at that point, that's when breakage problems eventually crop up.

    That's true, and irrelevant. Properly done, a Western Union splice is mechanically strong, which means it doesn't need solder, or as much, to stay together. A proper splice is actually a mechanical connection, with the forces in the wire strengthening the connection. You can't "push" on wire -- it just flops out of the way of the forces. Pulling on the wire jams the two ends of the splice into each other. The wires can't just slip past each other because the perpendicular windings in a Western Union splice would have to un-wrap.

    I have some 12/2 Romex and #12 THHN lying around. I'll have to see if I can scrape up the spare time, do a few splices, photograph and post. Even #12s are pretty easy to splice -- it just takes patience, a pair of locking pliers (to hold things together initially) and a pair of lineman's pliers (to work the end of the wire).
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Should I be worrying that people are using wire (with or without joints) to fix panels to roofs, tie charge controllers to walls, hang inverters from ceilings, or keep batteries suspended over the crocodile pit?

    I've never seen enough motion in any wiring anywhere that would make the mechanical strength of a joint an issue.

    But then I'm weird. I have alligators in my crocodile pit, for one thing. :p
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

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    I've done better, but I'd also like to do some laundry and eat dinner, rather than spend the night editing photos.

    The key is the last three photos where the wrap goes from the usual "twist" to something that should be perpendicular to the wire. The last two show how to finish off the end. When you have that pointy-barb-thing on each end, you need to bend it around the wire so it won't puncture the heat shrink. You can trim it up with a pair of sharp side cutters. If you don't have heat shrink, mastic tape would work. If you don't trust your work, you could solder the inner third and the outer two thirds should protect that from flexing.

    That should be a lot stronger than a crimp-on butt splice, even without solder. It's more compact than a Polaris connector and definitely easier than Cadweld (which would have destroyed the insulation). It's small enough that it can probably be fished. If I'd taken more time and laid the wires out carefully enough to get three or four "perpendicular" wraps around the wire, I'd feel comfortable hanging something heavy from the ceiling with it -- without adding solder.

    That's a "long splice". For small or stranded wire, the "short splice" might be better. For heavier gauge wire, get bigger tools. You could probably splice 1/0 if you used longer starting lengths and a piece of rigid conduit for a lever and a large pipe wrench to hold the non-working end. For splicing something that size, I'd go with the Polaris connectors or Cadweld, but I'm sure it can be done in a pinch.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing

    Awesome looking splices there tallgirl! It's obvious this is not the first time you've done this. lol
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Soldering or splicing
    Awesome looking splices there tallgirl! It's obvious this is not the first time you've done this. lol

    That one is a piece of crap.

    And you're right -- not the first time. Won't be the last time ...
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