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I have an 18.5 cubic inch box that has three 14/2 nm cables coming in. I am putting in an Eaton AFCI/GFCI outlet but the limited space is making it hard to get back in.

I noticed that the outlet has 2 push-in connectors on the top and two on the bottom. They seem to be screw in unlike the old push in spring connectors. Anyone have experience with these to know if they are safer/reliable than your standard push in that it seems like people say to never use? If I didn't have to pig tail the two wires together with a nut it would save a ton of space so that is why I ask.

Thanks!

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    They're reliable enough to be legal/allowed; anything beyond that will really just be opinion. – TylerH Jan 19 at 15:04
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    The spring connectors are still legal and produced but they are frowned upon for use by the pros. So that is kind of why I was asking. These seem to be the screw clamp kind which is nice. – Irish Redneck Jan 19 at 15:12
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    @TylerH, not true. I worked for years with a high-quality electrical contractor who did mostly new work. Your point wouldn't apply there. They told me they had too many callbacks with stab connectors and forbade their crews from using them. Even if they did need to replace an outlet, cutting and re-stripping takes seconds. – isherwood Jan 19 at 15:34
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    The thing about the spring type is that they're usually fine for a while, but metal fatigues and spring force doesn't last forever -- but they'll typically last long enough that your home's warranty won't cover replacements. That's why builders love them and DIY-minded homeowners hate them. On work I do myself, I always spend the extra 2 minutes (or spend the extra $2 on the screw clamp type you're referencing) to put the wires under a screw, so that I don't have to replace it again in a few years. – Nate S. Jan 19 at 17:59
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    @isherwood My bet then is either that contractor was using cheap, 40-cent outlets or they were not pushing them in fully. Any properly-installed push-in should easily last long enough that new construction contractors won't be the ones getting called back to fix them (as Nate said). I've pulled out plenty that were installed 5 to 10 years prior, and they were still fine/solid. – TylerH Jan 19 at 18:41
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Screw-down insert connectors are very reliable. They're really no different from a well-done loop under a screw. Just be sure to strip the wire to the correct length. There should be a gauge molded into the outlet back plate.

These aren't really "push-in" connectors since you still have to clamp them. The push-in connectors that are problematic use just a spring tab to engage the wire. They're to be avoided.

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  • This is good to know. Do you always do a good pull test after you use these screw clamp push-in connectors? – Irish Redneck Jan 19 at 16:03
  • No, but that's probably because I've done thousands of such connections and intuitively know what'll hold and what won't. It's not a bad idea. – isherwood Jan 19 at 16:04
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    @IrishRedneck, if you're following 2020 code, you have to tighten each screw to the right value with a torque screwdriver (which are no longer crazy expensive, since now everyone needs one). If you get the torque to spec, the pull test would be redundant. – Nate S. Jan 19 at 17:53
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    @NateS., assuming the outlet isn't defective. If the screw's bottoming out against the outlet body rather than compressing against the wire, you can hit the torque spec while still being able to pull the wire out. – Mark Jan 20 at 1:49
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    @isherwood I wouldn't be surprised...pull test is an instinct for me too. I didn't mean to imply that screw clamps are better because they are ubiquitous in industry. If anything, quite the reverse. In any case, the big reason they are better is that the square clamp on the screw not only bites into the wire better, it's also textured for a stronger grip. With residential device screws the wire often wants to roll out from under the screw and you have to be more careful about holding the wire against the crummy guards to make sure it sits properly. – J... Jan 20 at 18:44
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I agree these are reliable, a joy to work with, and much easier to maintain than screw terminals. If you have exactly two wires there is the added benefit they can both be clamped down together without twisting or bending either of them. These are REALLY nice in older homes with brittle rubber insulation on the wires because there is much less manipulation and bending of the wires when installing or maintaining.

My caveat, and the reason I'm posting a new answer is this: If you have two wires going into the device they need to be the same gauge. If they are not, even though you'll get really good feedback on the torquing down of the screw clamp, the thinner wire will not be held down. If you have dissimilar wires you should use a different kind of device, or use wire nuts or other connectors to join everything up with a pigtail to this kind of device.

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  • Excellent point! – FreeMan Jan 29 at 17:07

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