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I normally make any pigtails at an outlet or switch box about six inches, same as the requirement found in 300.14 for spliced conductors that emerge from their cable or raceway into the box, but an older electrician makes his about three inches and told me they don't have to be any longer than you want to make them. I'm not finding any exceptions to the rule for these pigtails, but I also realize the point of 300.14 is more to keep the working conductors long enough to work with. Is my electrician friend correct?

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  • By "pigtail," I mean the extra wire you add to a splice (with a wirenut in my case) in order to connect a switch, lampholder, or receptacle into a circuit. Usually the pigtail is bared at the end, shaped into a hook, and terminated on a terminal screw. Jan 15, 2020 at 4:28

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No the requirement is 6” from the back of the box , no tape measure a dollar bill will , if you only have a 20 I will trade you for a dollar and you will be good,,, ok that has only almost worked once LOL. My first job as a licensed electrician my dad said I will save you thousands and went back and clipped all my wires on the rough in , the inspector knew I was just had just got my card and measured them, yes he had me replace everything that was less than 6 from the back, most of them I had some slack , but I did have to replace a few lines , ever since then I have always said it is better to waste a foot than be short an inch. , my latest graduate on his first job trued to save some $ on a parallel 500 job , oops now we had to add a j box and splices, I was upset with 12 awg ,, I think he will never do that again as it added quite a few hours splices and a very large j box. You cannot make them “whatever length” 6” from the back of the box or 3” extension I front I think is the minimum code.

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    Even worse, if you're in conduit, and you go "Oh hey, got my 6" here! snip" And then you get back to the other end and realize some of your 6" shifted down from the other box, and it's short. Jan 14, 2020 at 6:05
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica Been there, done that (once) in my younger years. Some of these mistakes you just have to do to remember them.
    – JACK
    Jan 14, 2020 at 12:36
  • My question is whether or not pigtails fall under the same rule as conductors that enter the box through a cable or raceway, since technically they are also spliced conductors. Or does anyone know of another code rule that pertains to their length? I believe they don't count in box fill calculations Jan 15, 2020 at 3:51
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    The pigtail itself , can be shorter, code only specifies the length of the wire entering the box.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 15, 2020 at 14:26
  • Thanks @Ed Beal! That's kind of what I thought. Jan 16, 2020 at 1:30

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