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Are modular receptacles an answer to a problem nobody had?  Instead of attaching your hot, neutral, and ground to the receptacle, you connect them to a wiring module that twists onto the back of Leviton’s special receptacles.  We’re not exactly sure how that saves you any time or money — especially at a $15 to $30 premium price — but maybe somebody can set us straight.

Leviton claims their modular receptacles speed installation and reduce errors.  Yeah, it makes it easy for the guy trimming out the installation, but it also adds work for the guy roughing in the electrical. The savings in time just doesn’t add up, unless they’re heavily discounting these receptacles so bulk pricing is much closer to traditional receptacle prices.  And if you’re making that many errors installing receptacles maybe you’re in the wrong business.

Leviton makes modular receptacles in industrial and healthcare-grade duplex outlet configurations.  With either configuration you also have to pay an extra $3 for the wiring module.

Lev-Lok [Leviton]
Street Pricing [Google]
Lev-Lok [CableOrganizer]

 

28 Responses to Twist-To-Connect Modular Receptacles

  1. Pepster says:

    If you don’t have to twist the wire, unscrew the terminals, wrap the wire, tighten (while holding the wire) the temrinal…

    and instead push the wireinto the module, then twist the module into place; that sounds much faster!

  2. argosytech says:

    Seems like it’d be great if you wife liked to redecorate often! Gots to have those “matching” outlets… or at least coordinating ones! Oh yeah… what Pepster said, too!

  3. fred says:

    Aren’t there many outlets available with “back wire” capability – just strip and push the wires in place ?
    Is this better than that type?

    I recall the old backwire outlets having a particular problem (fires!) with aluminum wiring – but that’s an old story

  4. Tim B. says:

    Actually.. I stumbled on these just a couple days ago, on CableOrganizer website, and am on the verge of ordering them for one reason: Not enough slack in the wires currently in my wall boxes. I am in the course of finishing in a small portion of my basement, and though the power was all wired in location, the boxes were installed flush with the STUD surface, not the proposed ‘wall’ surface… and no slack was left behind. I, of course, didn’t take note of this until installing the wall board – and now, even though I can use box extensions to make it PHYSICALLY clean, I don’t have enough wire slack to connect my receptacles.

    So this product = problem soved, for me! =)

  5. @pepster and argosytech:

    I’m thinking these are aimed at pros who do this for a living who can trim out a receptacle box in a couple of minutes flat anyway. So does saving a few minutes per receptacle at a huge price premium really save you money?

    Plugging in the receptacle makes trimming easier, but when you’re rouging in you still have to go through the extra steps of stripping the wire, and wire nutting to the wires on the module.

    Another point I didn’t think about when I wrote this, would you pass rough-in inspection with these attached or would you have to put them in after. That would add a third step in the whole process.

  6. @Tim B.

    Wouldn’t pigtails be a much cheaper solution.

  7. fred says:

    @ BenjaminJohnson

    Now that you mention pigtails – I recall that my electrical sub usese these quite often:

    http://www.idealindustries.com/products/wire_termination/twist-on/term-a-nut_grounding.jsp

    I think its also an issue of productivity – with the stranded pigtail allowing the receptacle to be easily placed in the box. I also think that the box has to be of adequate size to accomodate pigtailling.

  8. SuperJdynamite says:

    “Another point I didn’t think about when I wrote this, would you pass rough-in inspection with these attached or would you have to put them in after. That would add a third step in the whole process.”

    There might be an advantage if these could be installed pre rough-in inspection and then somebody else besides the electrical sub (maybe the sheetrocker) could snap on the outlet and finish the box. That seems like a long shot, though.

    Anyway, I would wager that the average DIY-er makes more suspect connections with wire nutting pigtails than they do with screwing the wires directly to the outlet, so the whole thing seems like a net loss to me.

  9. Dave says:

    Fred, the spring-loaded back-stab outlets are regarded as less reliable and the pros won’t use ’em, they will wire to the terminals normally.

    My favorite outlets are the ones where it is a back-stab style, but the screw is tightened to apply pressure to the wire which is clamped between 2 pieces of metal. These have the convenience of the back-stab but they will not loosen over time.

    Dave

  10. Dave says:

    I’m guessing the big deal here is where outlets need to be replaced on some kind of a recurring basis.

    These save on that in 2 ways:
    1) old outlet twist-off, new outlet twist-on
    2) not advertised, but I bet the whole point is you can replace the outlet ‘fairly safely’ without turning the power off.

    Dave

  11. Stan says:

    For Tim B. You can always pigtail A few inches of Wire is much cheaper than these over priced things. Just get the kind that use the screws to secure the wires not the push-in friction type.

    Stan

  12. Zathrus says:

    I agree w/ Dave on the push ins. I’ve taken any number of plates off my wall to find the craptastic push-ins barely connected anymore, since regular plugging and unplugging can cause them to wiggle out.

    If I find one this way, I’ll remove the wires and re-do it to the terminals. If you spend the extra $.30/outlet for the ones with the screw-clamped pushins, then they’re safe too.

  13. Scott says:

    My take is this is back wiring done better. Backwiring is fast to install and fast to fail. Failures mean call-backs and increased liability. The twice the connection security claim must be compared to backwired.

    Also, since the pigtails are pre-cut, and pre-installed on the device three things are assured: 1) The appropriate length of wire for the tails will be available; 2) Wiring through the receptacle (daisy chaining) will be discouraged; 3) Miswiring at the device won’t occur. More consistent rough in (all receptacles will be pigtailed; only GFCIs will be wired-through).

    In quantity (note these are commercial/industrial/hospital grade) the cost per device difference must be low enough to make the reduction in wiring errors (connection or length) and the connection security (lower liability?) worth the price.

    Does Code allow backwiring hospital grade or on a factory floor? It appears it does with these.

  14. heywood says:

    As an electrician, we generally HATE these. Anything modular usually sucks for your average installation, imho because it tries to make up a cheap solution for real work. This is, as pointed out in the original post an answer to a question that pretty much nobody asked; except in certain situations.

    The only place this makes any sense is in a large commercial/industrial setting where outlets occasionally will get beat up and need a quick replacement. By taking the electrician out of the equation, a maintenance guy can handle the job without any real electrical knowledge. Other than that, to the diy’ers out there looking at these: skip the extra expense on these and spring for a high-quality commercial regular receptacle, or 5-20 type receptacle and not the push-in types that don’t tighten with a screw. Remember: sidewire is always better if possible, because it creates a good bond over a larger area, and the second-best is a screw-tightened backwire.

    @scott: backwired hospital devices are out there, so it must be code-legal.

  15. Jerry says:

    First, you will want to check with your local codes – and talk to the inspector. In most areas around where I live, they are discouraging any and all devices that are not screw terminal types. I suspect they will be requiring the screw terminal connections sometime soon. Having personally replaced thousands (yes, really) of duplex receptacles I have found large numbers of back-wired devices that practically fell off once the device was loosened from the box. I, personally, refuse to use any back-wired devices in replacements. Practice a bit on the screw terminal type and you will soon be popping them in as quick as you can the back-wired ones.
    These come with the pig-tails attached which indicates that you may be squeezing 3 more wire nuts into that already cramped box. I think I’ll pass.

  16. David Bryan says:

    For one thing, hospital-grade receptacles, like the one in the picture, are going to cost more than ordinary spec-grade ones, which cost quite a bit more than the truly inferior residential grade ones available for the lowest price. You can only backwire those with 14 gauge wire and it’s a bad idea at any rate.
    I look at these and I start thinking about box fill. In some shallow boxes I really doubt you could use them. In new construction, where you’re supposed to have adequate room in a box and adequate conductor length to make connections, I wouldn’t see much advantage for these. They might be useful in old work; if you’ve got to pigtail onto too-short conductors it’s nice to have something flexible to work with, and you might not have to disturb the old wires too much with these.
    I agree with heywood that they don’t do much for you that a good back-wired spec-grade outlet won’t, and he’s right about how this would be easier for a semi-qualified person to replace.
    I don’t think anybody’s going to come up with a new wiring device just so it’ll be easier to wire hot.

  17. Phil says:

    These devices are meant mainly for industrial/commercial settings where the outlet gets a great deal of use. After a while, the outlet will wear out and need replacement. If one has to pull the device out of the box and fumble with the (inevitably solid) wiring inside each time, you risk work hardening the wire and making poor connections. Using these outlets it’s a simple matter of removing the devices and swapping it with a new one, leaving the building wiring relatively untouched.

    These also work well in modular furniture and electronic equipment racks where the power wiring is integrated into the units and sometimes not mounted in traditional boxes. The dongles can be preinstalled in the wiring harnesses and the devices added later in the assembly. This also makes it easier to allow custom configurations of that equipment.

  18. Scott says:

    What happened to craftsmanship? What’s next a service box that doesn’t require any terminating? If an electrician can’t terminate efficiently enough to make these unnecessary. Then that electrician is not worth his / her wage.

  19. Scott says:

    Don’t confuse back wire and stab-in terminations.

    Back wiring is under a screw and floating square washer or plate. This is a good connection, just as good as side wiring.

    Stab-in has no mechanical screw only a spring / blade setup to hold and provide electrical connection. Stab-in is a bad idea, relying on basically an edge of a razor for current flow up to 15 A.

  20. Brau says:

    To me, this product offends the KISS principle. The more connections, the more likelihood of failure; at the wirenut and also at the backplate. That aside, I see no advantage. The worst mistakes people make are not in wiring outlets but rather mis-wiring circuits causing elevated current in a single conductor that burns up inside the wall.

  21. Joe says:

    I’m with Heywood & Scott–I’ll side wire unless it’s not possible, then back wire is the only other option. Stab-in may pass code, but not my standards.

  22. Shopmonger says:

    Besides the apperant issues with reliability and the grand argument of back stabbing and modular control….

    The biggest issue….. COST for 13 i can get 10 receptacles and do an entire room

  23. Chris says:

    I’m agreeing with Dave too on this one – although, I would warn you against replacing any outlet with a live wire. That’s not really what this is for.

    There’s the whole speed factor in Lev-Lok because Leviton’s intending it for areas where receptacle replacement is frequent (i.e. hospitals, schools, hotels).

    But just looking at this from another angle… The wiring module does have pre-stripped leads, which takes one typical installation step out of the equation. The module also protects receptacle wiring once you need to complete a room. You can finish a room up with paint or drywall, and not have to worry about wiring protection.

  24. Captain Obvious says:

    server-rooms.

    Assembly-style installation of tons of ’em.

  25. Eric says:

    I’m with everyone else. Just side wire. It’s really not that difficult. If you have trouble stripping wire or tightening screws, you really shouldn’t be doing electrical work.

  26. kyle says:

    For the adverage person these are of no use but in places such as factories, hospitals, appartments,and any other place where the out let are used more often it would make replacement very easy when it is needed.

  27. Matt says:

    I know this is old, but if you ask me, this was designed with more of a commercial convenience in mind. How many of us have had to replace receptacles in an office building or store (because employees NEVER yank a plug out by the cord or run their desk chair into the plugs), and had to turn off a circuit serving a bank of computers or cash registers? Even if for a couple minutes, that is lost productivity and potentially lost profit on the customer’s side. These appear to be hot-swappable, meaning you can replace an outlet in literally a minute without inconveniencing everyone else on the circuit. But for your average residential install? Not a chance.

  28. Morgan says:

    I’m a building engineer in downtown Seattle. Didn’t know these existed til I came to this property. Garbage, garbage, garbage. Total and complete junk. Been here a month and already I’ve had 3 calls with these being the culprit. Each one was either the hot or neutral popped out of the twist lock, or was in the process of doing so. EVEN IF these weren’t defective in that fashion, using push-in wire connectors for your pigtails??? Come on! I even cringe seeing people use them on ballasts. I’d immediately fire any contractor I saw roll on to the jobsite with these. Complete junk.

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