Solder is commonly used to attach wires and other electrical components by melting a small amount of conductive material to secure the connection. What do you do if you don't have access to solder or soldering equipment, though? After all, you can't exactly use super glue instead of solder to join a wire. Any joins you make need to preserve the conductivity of the wire and hold up to heat and oxidation. Fortunately, there are ways to join wires without the need for solder that is both safe to use and just as effective.
Why Join Wires?
There are a number of reasons why you might need to join two wires. Whether you're dealing with a piece of wire that simply isn't long enough to meet your needs or you need to connect two wires to complete a circuit, it's important that you find a way to join the wires without creating a safety hazard.
Splicing Wires Without Solder
If you can't use solder to join your wires, a splice that winds the wires together will get the job done just as well. Be sure to strip enough insulation from the wire to allow for several twists between the two pieces of wire. The best way to splice wires is to wrap them together tightly, using multiple twists to ensure maximum contact between the two wire sections. There are multiple techniques for splicing wires without solder that result in a tight wrap, including some that overlap the wires before twisting to give a larger overall spliced area.
If you need an easier way to connect two wires, wire caps, connectors like so-called "suitcase connectors" are commonly-used splicing components. The caps work by twisting two wire ends together tightly, holding them close beneath the cap so that they cannot break their contact. Connectors work similarly, placing the wires together and then closing the connector over the joined ends. The connector or cap itself serves as a sort of insulation, covering the splice with plastic so long as the cap is in place. When using a wire cap or connector, only a small amount of wire insulation needs be removed before splicing.
Regardless of the method you use to join your wires, it's important that you insulate the wires properly afterward. This can be done with electrical tape or insulation wraps, as well as shrink-to-fit insulation sleeves that you fit over the join and then apply heat to shrink. Wire cap connectors provide their own insulation, though you need to make sure that there isn't any bare wire visible. Many people apply electrical tape over the caps just to make sure. No matter which method of insulation you use, always double check to ensure that no bare wire is visible before you call the job complete.
Jack Gerard is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience writing in the home improvement, DIY and home & garden space. Coming from a background in roofing and construction and bringing firsthand gardening and home repair experience, Gerard applies himself to his writing as a jack of many trades.