5

I have used Wago splice connectors especially 3 and 5 wire 221’s for lighting, like converting fixtures from fluorescent to LED. They are much quicker and easier than screw-on wirenuts, and seem to keep working so far without fail. Their sole apparent fault is the high price.

I’m looking to re-stock,and see kits with lever nuts that look similar to Wago 222’s (opaque gray plastic body.) Anyone used these? They look comparable, but seem a bit less expensive: Are the generics are safe to use, and are they a safe replacement for the more expensive connectors?

5
  • 7
    I'm planning on using Wagos for all my electrical work in the addition we're building. Love the convenience, dislike the price. But, to me the price is worth it, the cost savings of using a potentially dangerous knockoff/unlisted clone isn't. Not going to put in all this effort to upgrade the house just to have it burn down to save a few cents. </opinion>
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 15:11
  • 12
    IF this is for DIY: Buy a few boxes of authentic Wagos in various sizes from a wholesaler. $100 will buy enough to last the rest of your life, and then you don't have to worry about this question. Think of it as a present to yourself, like when you buy a nicer drill or socket set. You deserve it. :)
    – jay613
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 15:11
  • 1
    Authentic Wagos are pretty expensive at local DIY markets, like 3.50€ for a single connector. A pack of 50 authentic 3-wire 221s will go for 20€ on the internet, while 50 knock-off lever nuts will go for 5€. I had to use knock-offs once (legit listed knock-offs, authentic Wagos were sold out at the local market and I needed them quickly) and now I won't accept the substitute any more. No issue with safety and function, but the Wagos handle better. YMMV, but the knock-offs I got were primarily torture devices..
    – Klaws
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 9:26
  • Coincidentally, Big Clive recently compared the construction of an authentic Wago to a clone. His verdict is that the clone actually was well-constructed (and possibly better designed, at least with respect to manufacturability) but that he would use clones only for personal projects since with the clones you can never be fully confident of what you get.
    – jamesdlin
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 20:23
  • @jamesdlin great comment,I like bigclive a lot. He mentions greatscott has tested Wagos — he has several videos with reference to Wagos & say, competitors (knockoffs). Here’s a link, youtube.com/@greatscottlab/search?query=wago I think this question is answered now: the certifications tilt the answer to the original product for sure Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 14:11

5 Answers 5

13

All electrical devices used in America must be listed/tested by one of a few orgs, like UL/ETL/CSA.

Quite a few Chinese products are not tested and not legal for use, the CE label is not recognized in America.

If you find a cheaper product that is listed by UL/CSA then it is okay to use.

Insurance likes those unlisted products, since they can denied all claims and do not pay you, since you used unsafe products.

3
  • Insurance like to deny claims to reduce their costs, but not because the products are unsafe. It is because it is illegal to use products that have not been certified. The products could just be a market specific part that is not meant to be sold outside its intended market. This could allow the manufacturer to lower the price without the leakage associated with redirection to a higher value market.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 11:18
  • Fun fact I recently learned: "CE" isn't a like UL/ETL/CSA, in that it's not a certification mark given by a reputable testing lab that has done independent testing. It's a manufacturer's own claim that they've built their product to be complaint in the EU. There's no assurance that it actually is complaint.
    – Alexander
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 1:25
  • By "all electrical devices used in America," I assume you're referring to the fact that the building codes require listed devices. It's my understanding that portable devices and ones that aren't permanently installed in a structure are not required to be certified, though many manufacturer's will get those certified. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 6:19
8

In general they aren't safe.

Most of the electric installation stuff you find on Amazon-AliBaba et al. are from third party sellers. That means that while Amazon and other provides the selling-instrastructure, they won't be liable for anything, including your house burning down.

For cable connectors, good contact in the long term is critical. Should the spring release pressure in say, 10 years, the contact won't be good anymore. Bad contact, combined with current, produces heat.

Heat makes fire.

Nobody guarantees you that the clone-manufacturers use proper engineering and quality management.

8

Are they listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Lab, (such as UL or ETL in the US) or will you be "self-importing" them from Amazon Marketplace or AliExpress or some other "cheaper ways to get untested products direct-shipped from China?"

Of course they look comparable, that's what cheap knockoffs (or at least the sites selling them) do. They might (for example) burn a whole lot better, though. Or look different in person than they do on the website. Or...

7

I would stick with listed devices from trusted brands, from reputable distributors. Even if the risk is low, the "penalty for failure" can be steep. This is not an area I would be looking for bargains

1
  • This. Don't cut corners in any safety-related situation! Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 14:34
5

You are accustomed to being able to buy any random product in any store and be assured of the safety of that product. That is because of a vast array of consumer-protection law that exists to do just that, and has control over the retail "walk into a bricks-and-mortar store" supply chain. There have always been ways to circumvent this, by working with smugglers with shady little shops, flea markets, etc. The smugglers take advantage of the fact that Customs has bigger fish to fry than looking for look-alike Wagos that aren't UL Listed. But this was only a problem for people who actively sought out shady dealers.

Then what happened? eBay brought smuggling to an industrial scale. Then Amazon figured out they could set up a warehouse, declare it a Free Trade Zone under NAFTA and since some products might direct-ship to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda etc., US customs could not enforce US law on the contents of the Free Trade Zone.

But of course Amazon would be liable if they sold the item to an American address. But not if the seller was actually a 3rd party and Amazon was only a drop-shipper. So that's what they did - Amazon Fulfillment drop-ships anything for any 3rd party (many eBay seller use it in fact)... and Amazon also allows 3rd party listings on Amazon's website, so Amazon is eBay now LOL.

They then make the listings as difficult as possible to distinguish from Amazon's own product, for which they are responsible. They've really got it figured out.

So your intuition is "something protects our product stream from dangerous junk" doesn't work on mail order goods.

Your seller of Chinese carpola would be happy if their product works for you, but they don't give a darn if it fails. They have no liability whatsoever if it fails. Insurance companies have tried and tried to sue them, but they're behind the Red Curtain and untouchable. Don't you notice that the seller names are obviously "made up" like KEMTOO" or the like? I have names for them - there's IkeaGuy whose shell companies sound like Ikea items, and All Caps Guy whose shell companies are random letters in all caps. Do your grandparents remember the halcyon days when the KRLWOMP jingle was heard on radio? No.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.