A typical bus bar has this design:

enter image description here

and connecting a solid wire to it is more or less easy. But how do I connect a stranded wire? I expect the following to happen: when I drive the screw in, the screw splits the strands and so I end up with the screw driven in and the strands all around the screw instead of being pressed to the bus bar. I'd like to avoid this and get a good connection capable of carrying many amperes of current.

How do I connect a stranded wire to a bus bar?

  • Insulated or uninsulated ferrules might work. Would have to check codes to make sure they can be used.
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 15:28
  • Is this in a load center for a 120V circuit?
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 0:24
  • 2
    what size wire? The connection to the ground rods is often 6AWG stranded bare copper; my feeders are 2AWG aluminum. Both work fine under the set screws.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 0:26

4 Answers 4


I sell a lot of stranded wire and I've never heard of anybody tinning a wire that goes on a neutral or ground bar. AFGI & GFCI breakers come with stranded copper and is rated to fit into these bars, along with solid. I would just make sure the hole you are using matches up with the wire you are using. Most of the ground and neutral bars have different size lugs with different size ratings, like 14 to 10 awg, or 14 to 4 awg or 6 to 2/0 awg.


Try it. The splitting you expect just doesn't happen. The stripped wire should be long enough that it extends past the screw a little bit, so the screw isn't bearing on the very end of the wire. The screws are sized so they take up most of the hole and they don't pierce the stranded wire, they just flatten it and jam the strands together.

Assuming the bus bar and the wire are certified for use with each other, proper size etc., and you're using the screws which come with the bus bar.


Never tin wire used with a screw terminal. Solder under stress will yield over time, and eventually, the pressure on the wire will diminish, leading to increased junction resistance and increased heating.

If you are concerned that the screw terminal will not maintain its grip on stranded wire, (a reasonable concern), the standard solution is to first crimp a ferrule onto the stranded wire, then clamp the ferrule with the screw terminal.


You could tin the wire with solder, or connect it to a pigtail of solid wire, and connect that to the bus bar.

If this is going to be carrying household current (i.e., this is the bus bar in your panel), I'd terminate the stranded wire in a jbox near the panel and use a length of NM to the panel itself.

  • Tinning the wire would have been my suggestion; it's the go-to method for making a solid end for "bare" speaker wire, so the clamp terminals can get good contact without destroying the wire.
    – KeithS
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 15:47
  • 3
    Speaker wire handles very different voltages, however. I'd be concerned about the solder holding up over time (i.e. not melting off the leads, leading to a loose connection). Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 20:34

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