Here’s how it turned out:
- Calterm versus ETC: Calterm let go at 97 pounds. Both rings elongated.
- Calterm versus Storehouse: Storehouse let go at 16 pounds.
- Storehouse versus ETC: Storehouse let go at 14 pounds.
Wow! I can’t say I was surprised that Storehouse lost, but the margin just blew my mind.
I couldn’t help but think back to the Storehouse’s thin-metal walls, though. Reputable manufacturers specify a particular size that their terminals should reach in order to be considered fully crimped. The barrel color code indicates not only the wire gauge that the terminal will work with, but also the die size you should use to crimp it. Using the proper die assures that the terminal reaches this minimum “crush size” for maximum strength.
While Storehouse’s blue terminals work with 14-16 AWG wire, maybe their thinner walls must be smashed smaller to achieve their design strength. Since hand crimpers are limited only by the force you can put into them with your hands — unlike professional ratcheting crimpers, which close to a hard-stop at the “correct” crush depth — I wondered if hand crimpers might actually crimp the thin Storehouse terminal better.
To confirm this, I performed a second round of testing. For one lead, I used a crappy hand crimper. I also prepared a lead using the smallest (red barrel, 20-22AWG) nest in the ratchet crimper. I used Calterm only for this test because I knew they’ll beat the Storehouse — and because I didn’t want to waste my now-precious ETC terminals.
Here are the results this time ’round:
From left to right: The results of the first test, the crappy crimpers, and results of the second test. Here’s the final data:
- Calterm versus Storehouse, hand crimper: 8 pounds.
- Calterm versus Storehouse, red die of ratchet crimper: 37 pounds.
Looks like I was wrong — even the hand crimpers don’t save the Storehouse terminals. They’re definitely crap, and they’re craptacular crap when applied with hand crimpers.
Depending on who you ask, a 14-gauge crimp should withstand between 50 and 70 lbs of tension without failure. Calterm and ETC had no trouble exceeding that spec, but Storehouse couldn’t touch it even when oversmashed with a too-small crimp nest.
What’s all this mean to you? Don’t bother with crappy terminals. While you can indeed grab a ton of them for next to nothing at Harbor Freight (and other such stores), you’ll likely have to contend with failed crimps down the road, and cutting, stripping, and re-crimping a terminal is a tremendous waste of time. Just remember: the time you save by buying the right connectors might be your own.
And don’t sweat it if you’re looking at the store and can’t find the Calterm or ETC brands. Just look for a connector with a suitably thick metal construction. A wire guide is also an indication of a quality connector. If it looks thin and shabby, just pass it by.
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