Connecting a Wire to a Terminal

When you are dealing with electrical repairing, you must ensure that you take extra precautions so that the live voltage is always turned off when you are working on the circuits. If you have the knowledge and skill in wiring, it would be a breeze for you to connect a wire to a terminal. The most important rule to adhere to is to connect the right color wire to the right terminal when performing any electrical task. If you notice a copper-colored terminal, it is representing the hot terminal where only black or red wires are usually connected to it.

The silver-colored terminal will represent the neutral terminal where it is for connecting only the white wires while the last terminal is the green ground terminal for connecting all bare copper or green electrical wires. It is important for you to acquire the skills of stripping, bending and tightening wires on your terminal because the way you put it, will determine whether the connection is really good or not. Besides that, any loose connection can also cause arcing, pitting of the surface area around the connection, sparking, and a buildup of heat which is dangerous to your house.

What you need to do:

  1. Wire cutter/strippers
  2. Phillips or slotted screwdriver

Wire to a Terminal


  1. Always make sure and double check that the circuit breaker has already been turned off whenever you are working with any specific light switch so that there is no alternating current (AC) supplied to the light switch when you are doing any troubleshooting or checking because any live AC is dangerous to you.
  2. Then, if you notice there is a light-switch plate, you have to remove and unscrew the plate screws.
  3. Remember to keep the screws in a safe place where it is easy for you to remember where they are and of course, try not to lose them because these screws can easily be lost especially when it falls on the floor or down your heating vent.
  4. The first thing that you need to do before connecting a wire to the terminal screw is to strip the insulation from the wire (at least 3/4″ of wire insulation).
  5. Next, choose a number which corresponds with the electrical wire gauge on a wire cutter or strippers before placing the wire cutter around the wire itself.
  6. Then, use a slight pressure with a turning motion that will enable you to pull its insulation from the end of the wire. Always remember to avoid cutting any of the wire’s copper strands.
  7. Using the nose (good to use a long nosed pliers) of the wire cutter, you need to bend the stripped end of your wire into a “U” or a half moon shape.
  8. This bended stripped is to allow the wire to completely wrap around the screw terminal and not allowing any of its insulation touch the screw head. As for the stranded wires, you can use your thumb or forefinger by placing them over the strands and then twisting them tightly in a counterclockwise motion and also turning them into a “U” shape.
  9. After that, you have to place the bended end of your wire around your terminal screw and tighten it by using a screwdriver until it is securely holding the wire. When doing this, the wire must be placed with its opening facing the right side of your terminal screw because when the screw terminal tightens to the right with clockwise motion, it will allow the screw to eventually draw in your copper wire around the screw as you start to tighten it.
  10. You will notice the importance of the above mentioned method as you turn the wire opening around where the gap in your wire might be opened even further right after you start to tighten the screw thus creating a poor connection.
  11. Once you have managed to tighten the wire screw firmly on the terminal, you need to make sure that there is no wire insulation under the head of your screw.
  12. The wire must also not be resting on any other part of the plastic housing of the switch or receptacle. By doing a good connection and secured electrical connection, you will be having a long lasting and reliable electrical usage within you house.
  13. Finally, you need to attach back the light-switch plate and screw them back again.
  14. Always remember that poor electrical connections are the biggest reasons of electrical problems in every household and you must ensure that the safety of your family is taken care of by having the right knowledge and you should perform proper electrical wiring with simple solutions like creating tight and perfect wiring connections to your switches and receptacles.

Image Credit:

Flickr CC

Additional Reading:

Automotive Electrical Handbook

Low Voltage Wiring: Security/Fire Alarm Systems