Some months back when Chuck mentioned a Storehouse brand assortment of crimp terminals, I commented that this was one place you really didn’t want to skimp on quality. We all agreed this would be a good subject to test emperically, and I finally found the time to jump in and give it a shot.
What follows is a test of three brands: Calterm (found at the local auto parts store), Storehouse (the Harbor Freight house brand), and some ETC terminals (which I can’t seem to find online) that I had in my toolbox from a previous job.
The conclusion won’t surprise you, but there’s a twist that might. Read past the jump for the skinny — plus oodles of pictures.
I selected blue 14-16 gauge terminals from each maker. Since (unlike in normal use) we’re more interested in the crimp joints than the actual connector end, I used a different terminal type from each brand to make them easy to identify.
Note: All the pictures in this writeup are courtesy of my craptastic $5 webcam which has great closeup capability but struggles with colors sometimes. Also, that’s red heatshrink on the jaws of my “helping hands” alligator clip stand. The covered jaws don’t leave dents when gripping wire, and having some electrical isolation is nice too. Click on small photos for larger ones.
Pictured left to right above are the Storehouse, Calterm, and ETC terminals. Inside each barrel, embossed ridges are visible; they help grip the wire when it’s crimped. (I initially expected the cheaper brands not to have that feature, but it seems that they all do.) The Storehouse terminal is, however, made from very thin metal while the others look much more substantial.
From the rear we can see more differences. The plastic shrouds on the Storehouse and Calterm terminals are just tubes, and the back of the metal piece is clearly visible. When inserting stranded wire, strands can snag on this ridge. The ETC shroud is molded into a funnel shape, which guides stranded wire into the crimp barrel.
I used Calterm brand 14 AWG wire for all my tests. To keep the playing field even, I discarded any wires that’d been nicked during stripping — like the one pictured on the left. Each end was undamaged before crimping, as shown in the middle picture. On the right are the jaws of the ratcheting crimpers. These won’t let go until they’ve been through a full crimp cycle, guaranteeing that all the crimps are squished down to the (same) regulation size.
To put the connectors to the test, I prepared 3 short pieces of wire with a different brand of terminal on each end. I then used the cranked up-and-down motion of my drill press to apply tension and measured the applied force with a competition fish scale.
Read on to page two for our results and conclusions.
pages: 1 2