Does anyone recognize this electrical connector?
June 25, 2012 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone recognize this electrical connector?

My friend bought a hardwire lamp with this connector instead of just bare wire. It looks like it plugs into another connector. Does anyone recognize this plug? The lamp itself was supposedly made in Turkey but came in a generic corrugated cardboard box labelled with nothing more than a SKU# and a color.
posted by nathan_teske to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
That's a terminal block. You attach other wires to it; it is neither plug nor socket.
posted by jon1270 at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2012

Since I can't edit: The four holes have set screws to secure the wires. The opposite end has metal contacts.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:25 AM on June 25, 2012

It is just a splicing terminal. You can either take it off and use wire nuts to connect it to whatever it needs to be connected to or you can take the wires you would connect it to and fasten them in to the currently empty slots on the right hand side of the photo.
posted by milqman at 10:25 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

jon1270 - so loosen the screws, insert cord into other end and secure?
posted by nathan_teske at 10:25 AM on June 25, 2012

Yep, precisely that.
posted by Brockles at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2012

That would work electrically, but it might be a bad idea in terms of safety. If this is a line-voltage fixture (i.e. the cord you'd be connecting would plug into a regular outlet), and if the terminal block would be out in the open where people might fiddle with it, then it's not a good idea because it's too easy for a kid to touch one of those screws with a fork tine or a bent paperclip or something, and get shocked. Connectors like these are really only appropriate for use in low-voltage wiring or in protected, contained spaces.
posted by jon1270 at 10:36 AM on June 25, 2012

Yes, to clarify I have only seen these used on speaker wires (automotive and domestic) and other 12V stuff (in cars where people can't be bothered to put in proper connectors). I'm not so sure I'd be happy having one on a domestic voltage, even a pansy arse US voltage. I'm not even sure that they are rated for that (not that it'd stop them in Turkey, I guess).
posted by Brockles at 11:13 AM on June 25, 2012

Given the human hair sized wire the Cooper Bussman Fuse Company has given me to handle up to 3 amps (cuz it's the amps what set things on fire) I have no problem believing this thing, when properly installed, can handle line current for a reasonably sized light fixture.

That said, when you install it, make sure you strip your copper such that there is plenty of connection inside (where the bolt clamps the wire, but not a bunch of extra bare copper hanging out the back just begging to be shorted out somehow. You can start a merry blaze if you wire up 9V badly enough.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2012

As jon1270 says, it's a terminal block. I'm assuming from your unfamiliarity with it that you may not be located in or near Turkey. When hooking it up, the brown wire is hot, blue is negative.
posted by thewalrus at 12:11 PM on June 25, 2012

These are used all over Europe for e.g. pendant lamps. They are a very safe way for connecting 240V wires so I'm sure it's fine for lower voltages. They're also called 'sugar cubes'.
posted by LucVdB at 12:19 PM on June 25, 2012

They are a very safe way for connecting 240V wires so I'm sure it's fine for lower voltages.

That's not how it works. When the voltage goes down, the amperage has to go up to keep the wattage the same, and as Kid Charlemagne noted, it's the amps that determine the necessary wire size. So, a fixture using a 100W bulb on a 120V circuit needs BIGGER conductors than one for a 100W bulb on a 240V line.
posted by jon1270 at 12:26 PM on June 25, 2012

That's not how it works.

Doh... Sorry, in that case please disregard what I said before the house burns down.
posted by LucVdB at 12:38 PM on June 25, 2012

In my experience, they're called "chocolate blocks" and are fine for 240v in Europe. BUT - you've got no earth there so I'd wrap the whole lot in electrical tape...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:41 PM on June 25, 2012

When you're preparing the wire ends to insert into the block you should strip half an inch of insulation, twist the wire strands together tightly, then fold the twisted wire back on itself to make a quarter-inch bare stub with a folded tip.

Loosen the clamp screw almost to the point of falling out, then insert the prepared wire end all the way into the block so that the insulation goes all the way up to, but not into, the hole in the metal. That way, when you tighten the screw it bites nicely on the wire and you don't end up with stray whiskers causing short circuits.

Also, not having used one of these things before, you should take your first try apart again to have a look at what the screw end has done to the wire. If you find broken strands, you've overtightened it.
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 PM on June 25, 2012

Here is a two position one from Mouser. This shows a rating of 30 amps up to 600 Volts.
Granted, I doubt that the one supplied is a Molex brand, so the ratings may be different but it gives an idea of what they can handle.
posted by Climber at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2012

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