The term ‘Splice’ specifically refers to that point where two lines join. Most DIY fanatics have performed a wire splice at least once during their lifetime. Although, they probably began with thinner wires.
Ultimately, there is no limit to the thickness of the wires you can splice. In fact, there’s no such thing as a wire that is too thick. Admittedly, lower gauges (thicker wires) have their disadvantages. For instance:
- Thick wires are not flexible. This is why people avoid them even though the lowest gauges are also the safest because they can transmit more electricity without overheating. Contractors don’t want to pull a 6AWG line through a conduit when 14AWG can also work.
- The thickest wires are also the priciest. Admittedly, you will get plenty of value for your money. But if you have a tight budget, stick to higher gauges (thinner lines).
As you can see, the wire’s thickness is unrelated to your ability to splice it.
6-gauge cables are more difficult to handle because of their stiffness. But you can still splice them if you have the tools.
What Does NEC Say About It?
The NEC is silent on this issue. That is to say, it doesn’t encourage consumers to splice 6-gauge wiring, nor does it prohibit the practice. What does this mean? You can do what you want if you apply common sense. Don’t ignore the advice the NEC has given regarding splicing in general. That includes the following:
1). The NEC wants you to follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation. In other words, use the tools and wire sizes they recommend.
For instance, don’t splice 6-gauge wiring when the manufacturer tells you to apply 4AWG.
2). Use splicing devices that match the recommended conductor material.
For instance, if the terminals have an aluminum marking, use splicing devices that fit aluminum.
3). Don’t allow copper and aluminum to touch in a splicing device that isn’t listed for that purpose. Manufacturers will mark the splicing devices with labels that show the material for which they are suited (copper or aluminum).
Pay attention to the regulations and recommendations in 314.16(C) [limitations on the number of splices per enclosure) and 314.5 (prohibition on splices in short-radius conduit bodies). That doesn’t include obvious practices, such as covering splices with insulation that matches or exceeds the conductor’s insulation and placing splice connection points in boxes.
What Is The Best Way To Splice 6 Gauge Wire?
At its core, splicing a 6-gauge line is no different from splicing any other wire size. You need the proper tools, which include:
- Pliers (Needle Nose)
- Junction Box
- Wire Strippers
The process should look something like this:
- Mark the wires. Apply labels that show the type of wire. The last thing you want is to confuse a live wire for the ground.
- Make a fresh cut on the wires.
- Fold the outer covering back. The family handyman suggests removing six inches using lineman’s pliers.
- Use any tool that suits you to remove half an inch of insulation. Do this for all the wires you want to splice.
- Line the wires next to each other and twist the ends together. This is easier said than done because the conductors are incredibly thick. Tie the wires with tape after lining them up. This keeps them together, allowing you to gently braid the stripped ends using lineman pliers.
- Keep twisting until the exposed ends resemble a single wire.
- Cut the end of the twisted conductors off once the strands are even.
- Don’t proceed until the connection is solid.
- Get a wire nut that matches the conductor size. Push the twisted ends into the wire nut.
- Twist until the wire nut is secure. You can apply a layer of electrical tape to make the connection more secure.
Try to keep the following in mind, especially if you’re splicing wires for the first time:
- Don’t cut the insulation while removing the outer jacket. Apply caution while making that initial cut. Don’t proceed if you notice nicks and tears in the insulation. Cut the damaged section away and start afresh.
- You don’t have to strip the ground wire. Most of the time, this line is bare. Stripping isn’t necessary.
- Start with the ground before moving on to the neutral and, finally, the live wire. You should only reverse this order if you’re undoing a splice.
- Don’t forget to tug at the wires after pushing them into the connectors. Make sure they are firm. If the cables don’t fit, get bigger connectors.
- Apply a split bolt connector when splicing 6-gauge wiring. It combines the best attributes of a nut and a bolt. If you select a split bolt connector of the correct size, you can push both wires into the slot before tightening the nut and applying self-vulcanizing rubber tape (if you need the added insulation).
Even though the NEC has nothing to say about splicing 6-gauge wiring, you should check your local code before proceeding, just in case it prohibits or restricts this practice in some way. The local code takes priority over the NEC.
Does 6 Gauge (Stranded, Aluminum, Copper) Wire Make A Difference While Splicing?
You can splice 6-gauge wiring regardless of the wire type and material.
The process won’t change if you want to connect copper to copper and aluminum to aluminum. Challenges only arise when you mix the two:
Because these materials expand and contract at different rates, their connection may become loose over time.
The difference in resistance will create problems. Don’t forget that copper is more conductive than aluminum. You need thicker aluminum to match the conductivity of a thinner copper line.
It can start a fire because of corrosion and oxidation, especially if the person splicing the copper and aluminum is an amateur. You are better off avoiding this combination, regardless of the gauge.
You can splice stranded and solid wires. But you must solder them together. You can watch the video below on how to splice a stranded and solid wire with a soldering iron.
The preceding steps are the same. You must strip the wires before wrapping one end around the other. And then, you apply the soldering iron.
Don’t forget to apply the wire nut and insulation.
You can also use crimp connectors and screw terminal clamping connectors.
Tips While Splicing Wire
- Once you start stripping the wires, don’t make the exposed ends too short. Short cables are more difficult to connect.
- Don’t forget to disconnect the power. Use the main breaker at the panel. Test the wires to make sure the power is off.
- Even when you kill the power, you’re better off wearing protective gear. That includes gloves and goggles. Someone may turn the power back on while you’re handling the conductors.
- Use the same gauge. In other words, connect 6AWG to 6AWG. Don’t connect 6AWG to 12AWG. You can use different gauges if the gap is small. However, If one line is significantly thinner than the other, the smaller conductors will overheat because they have to carry more electricity than they can handle.
- Keep all the splices in a junction box to contain sparks and prevent electrocution.
- Call an electrician if you feel overwhelmed.