Suppose you have a receptacle box. What can you see right after opening it? Multiple colored wires, right? Among these, you’ll notice there are three primary cords and each carrying multiple wires.
There are black-white colored wires in an outlet which has different significance in the circuit. Read out the content “3 Black wires & 3 White Wires Outlet” to get to know about such wirings and how you can add an electrical outlet in the mid of the run. So, let’s get started.
You should be aware of the two fundamental options which are typically utilized for wiring: direct run or pigtailing. Depending on whether you want to add an electrical outlet in the midst of a run to make it easier to plug in a nearby electrical appliance or you need to power more objects using fewer receptacles.
Either of the choices can be made depending on your circumstances, although pigtailing is frequently chosen. What pigtailing does is that they do not rely on the connecting tab of the receptacle and allow the circuit to flow to the receptacle as well as any downstream receptacles.
Is it possible to attach those wires to an outlet? if yes give a little bit of summary of how you do it. You might notice there are three primary cords, each of which is carrying multiple wires.
Purpose of Multiple Wires
Let’s discuss the roles of these multiple wires. It’s not that complex.
Two cables are considered hot wires because one of them receives power whereas the other transmits it to the following outlet. One wire brings in the neutral, while the other wire sends it to the following output.
One lead wire, which is also known as a pigtail is left to connect to the outlet on the ground wire, which is actually two wires that have been twisted together and crimped as the final cable.
So basically, the black wires, which are basically the live or hotwires here perform the transmission of the electrical current from the breaker panel to the outlet.
And the white ones are the neutrals, which send back current to the breaker panel.
Tools You’ll Need
- Wire cutters
- Utility knife
- Some wire
- Wire nuts or push-in style connectors
How Do You Wire an Outlet With 3 Black And 3 White Wire? (Wiring With Pigtails)
There is no dependency on the receptacle’s connecting tab when wiring with pigtails because the circuit can flow to the receptacle and any downstream receptacles.
But pigtailing is not preferred if the outlet box is not wide enough to handle the volume of any extra wire nuts and pigtail wires.
Let’s learn about the installing process of electrical outlet in the middle of the run with pigtails step by step.
Step 1: Cut Power to Circuit
It’s important to ensure that the outlet or the switch that you are working with is turned off in the first place. In order to do so, go to your breaker panel, then turn the circuit off.
For additional safety, have a tester and hold it on the open ends of the wires to make sure that all of the wires are dead.
If there is any power running in any of the wires, then the tester should light up or raise an alarm to indicate the presence of power available on that wire.
Step 2: Remove Receptacles
Now you have to take off the outlet’s faceplate so that you can work on it. In the electrical box, you’ll notice two screws holding the old receptacle. Unscrew them and pull the receptacle out of the box.
Now cross-check using a non-contact voltage tester to ensure there is no current available in those wires. Unscrew the connectors on all of the wires that are connected to the outlet.
Thus you are disconnecting them from the outlet. Afterward, you can throw away the old receptacle.
Step 3: Separate Wires by Color
Get all of the black wires together, and then all of your white wires together and finally gather your copper ground wires together.
Step 4: Strip Existing and New Wires
Strip off the wires on the outlet to get them at the same length using a wire cutter. This step is necessary as it will allow you to put your pliers on them and twist them at the same size.
After that, the wire you need to strip for the pigtail needs to have the same length of copper exposed out of the wire as the wires on the wall.
Step 5: Twist Wires Together With Pilers
Grab your pliers, hold the wires of the same color with the additional wire, and twist them together in a clockwise direction.
The reason why you need to twist it clockwise is that, when you will go to put on the wire nut, you’ll have to screw it clockwise.
So, you are tightening the wires with each other. You can clip off the end of the twisted wires to have a straight and clean finish.
Step 6: Twist Wire Nut On
Take the wire nut on the twisted wire and screw the wire nut on. Make sure that the twisted wires fit inside the wire nut. Set it using pliers to add some extra strength to the twist.
Step 7: Push Wire Back Into Box
Now that all your neutrals are together, you have a long wire left outside the wall much longer in length. Repeat the same process for the black, white and ground wires to have individual pigtails.
Hence you can push the other wires back into the box as you have a good portion of the pigtail outside the box to work with very easily. Fold the like an accordion and keep pushing them in the back of the box.
Step 8: Trim New Wires to Length
You now have plenty of long wires to work with. So you can just cut off the excess wires. Usually, six or seven inches out of the box is enough and clip off the rest.
Final Step: Connect to Receptacles
One of the brass-colored terminals on the new outlet should receive one of the black hot circuit wires. The silver neutral terminal is linked to each white neutral wire in a similar manner.
Finally, the bare copper wire is to be connected to the green screw of the new receptacle.
Working with electricity carries inherent risks at all times. You must make sure that the electrical power is turned off to the outlet you plan to replace in the outlet box.
What if you are unable to find the appropriate circuit breaker to turn off? Well, in that case, you need to turn off the main breaker which will cut off electricity to the whole house.
Why Pigtailing Is Preferred?
One of the inherent risks of wiring directly through receptacles is that the circuit’s downstream devices are impacted if the circuit’s middle outlet fails.
Besides, Any loose wires of any kind on a direct wire outlet run the risk of heating up and catching fire as This path is where the entire current is flowing.
Even It might be quite challenging to identify any problems that have happened. Since all outlets lose power, it is difficult to pinpoint which one to fix.
Moreover, using a loose wire under one of the screw terminals can impact greatly upon the downstream circuit receptacles.
Using pigtails can erase all such problems. Whether there is a loose connection or any other problem, the receptacles downstream won’t be affected anyhow. A receptacle in the middle of the circuit can likewise be removed without affecting the others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you put 3 wires in one outlet?
It’s very common to see 1 or 2 sets of wires in a single outlet. But there is nothing to worry about if you notice 3 sets of wires in one outlet. Those 3 sets of wires can be easily converted to one set using pigtails.
Q: Is it better to pigtail outlets?
Certainly, pigtailing is a far better option than other methods like direct wiring. Direct wiring possesses a few potential risks such as-
- Loose wires or direct wire outlet run the risk of heating up and catching fire
- The circuit’s downstream devices are impacted if the circuit’s middle outlet fails
- It might be quite challenging to identify any problems that have happened
- Terminals can impact greatly upon the downstream circuit receptacles
- On the contrary, using pigtails can erase all such problems
Q: So, Does it matter which wire goes where on an outlet?
With a duplex (two sockets) receptacle, there are metal tabs that link one of the sockets to the other, allowing you to attach wires to either the top or bottom screws on the outlet.
You can snap off the connecting tabs if you want the circuits to be independent so that, for instance, one socket could be controlled by a switch.
Q: Is a receptacle one outlet or two?
A single contact device with no other contact devices on the same yoke or strap is referred to as a single receptacle. Two or more contact devices on the same yoke or strap make up multiple receptacles.
You should have a fundamental understanding of how a receptacle operates before starting. It’s crucial to keep in mind that silver screws accept neutral cables and brass screws accept hot wires.
But, you can also discover in some configurations that red insulation on the wire jacket designates a hot wire.
Hope this content helps you while adding an electrical outlet in the middle of the run. Apply the instructions appropriately. While shutting off the electricity, be careful!
And rather than taking unnecessary chances with your life, it is best to consult a professional electrician if you experience any trouble or confusion with these wirings.