Author Topic: Crimp vs. Solder?  (Read 4715 times)

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Offline NM_Shooter

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Crimp vs. Solder?
« on: January 26, 2009, 11:53:18 AM »
Don showed me a nifty little tool for crimping big connectors that I didn't know existed.

I've always been more in favor of soldering.  I've heard rumors that crimp provides better contact than solder, but I've yet to see an actual study... anybody have a link?

One thing for sure... a good crimp is not an easy thing to do.  You can overcrimp which screws things up.  Here's a comment about that:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?s=698650fe2c3d1d85258acdb0c38ee349&p=9730033&postcount=14

I think a crimp with a proper tool is the way to go when possible.  I recently had to solder some 2/0 high strand count wires for my winch since I had no way to crimp those.  At a ~80 amp draw I saw no measurable voltage drop across the connector. 

Crimps are cool when done right... the metal to metal contact is at a molecular level and is actually gas tight.  But they are easy to do wrong.
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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 12:06:28 PM »
In my mind I think of the kind of connection you're talking about as swagged.  That's the term used when the end fittings are put on sailboat rigging.  The various tools mash the fitting onto the wire so tightly it is virtually one piece with the wire.

In my limited electrical experience the crimping tools did a passable job but soldering was preferred.

Got a picture of that tool?

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2009, 02:04:00 PM »


$29.50 from...
http://solarseller.com/quick_cable_crimper_cutter_stripper.htm



The above tool is $185   :o  Bench or conventional; bench type is extra. When used with UL listed connectors the connection meets UL and NEC standards. NEC doesn't accept soldered cables.  ???

I had a comparison a few years back but I can't locate it. The only thing I can lay my hands on is a claim by TheSolar.Biz that they make all their cables using a press. They do not solder battery cables. They've been making cables for 30+ years.  ???

I believe the problem with soldering big cables is getting enough heat into the joint quickly, without melting/burning much of the insulation on the cable. Heat shrink can help that. I've also had a couple that I got too much solder into and it backed up the cable making the end stiff like solid wire.  d*

I'm going to use copper straps for the interconnections in the battery bank, but am struggling with the connector where I'll need to use cables. I'm not concerned about the NEC so much as I'm trying to balance between solid low resistance connections and the solid feel of my wallet.   ::)
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 02:08:00 PM »
Good note from the RC forum.  When I raced electric 1/12 and 1/10 scale cars I used Andersen connectors with silver plated connectors. I also silver soldered the wire to them.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 02:47:57 PM »
Solder connections can be brittle, and vibration can degrade the junction.  But for terrestrial ("ground-benign") applications, this is not much of an issue. 

A benefit of crimping for production houses is a greatly reduced labor cost. 

Don, I think your idea of using a vise with the hammer crimper is a good one.  I think it would be difficult to control the amount of force using the hammer.  I wonder if you can get as much force with a vise as you can by whacking it with a hammer?

-f-
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 02:50:10 PM »
With a pipe on the handle I can do just about anything.    ;D ;D
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 05:20:38 PM »
Even back around 1970 this was a contest - solder or crimp -- my old boss said no matter what they say solder is better.  I tend to agree wiht him because if you solder it correctly you will not get corrosion in it, but if you crimp it especially with a bit of battery acid around you are always going to find corrosion working it's way into the cable - no matter what they copper/lead/tin/ issues.    My crimped factory cables on my truck had corrosion far enough inside ai was able to pull the power cable away from the battery cable- out of the crimp.

My crimped or set screw terminated wekling cable ends often go bad.

I have no bad soldered battery cables in my rats nest in 5 years.  :)

Just my experiences.
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 05:47:22 PM »
There's lots of discussion with differing views out there if you do a google on solder or crimp.

One thing I noticed was a number of claims that soldered may not be best where there is vibration as on a boat or an automotive installation. This is due to vibration and the wires being stiffened by solder running up the wire.

It also seems that there is some agreement that a connection has to be done properly, soldered or crimped, before it's any good. This is where I get concerned with soldered heavy cables. As I mentioned above it is all too easy to make a poorly soldered joint on a large size cable. Of course the crimped connection can be just as bad when they are done with the incorrect crimping tool.

There's probably no "best" selection on this. The workmanship more than likely has more to do with what turns out to be better.

Using heat shrink tubing, especially the type that has heat activated adhesive inside it, would go a long ways in making any connection less prone to oxidation.

One source is
http://www.cabletiesplus.com/Departments/Heat-Shrink-Tubing/Adhesive-Lined-Heat-Shrink-Tubing.aspx
Commonly found at good marine dealers

Article from Andersen Power Products, make of fine high amperage cable disconnects
http://www.andersonpower.com/products/use.html

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline soomb

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 08:13:57 PM »
Are you discussing buying pre-soldered cables or doing your own?  If so would you suggest that someone who has zero experience (I used a wood buring tool when I was 7, is as close as I get) should stick to crimp?
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 09:05:15 AM by soomb »
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 08:32:16 PM »
Good question soomb. I was focused on the DIY aspect so much that I was blind to the factory made ones.  d*

I don't want to buy premade cables; they are pricey. Very convenient though.

I'm leaning heavily of getting the vice crimper and making the cables that way. I think anyone should be able to make those. Then I'll be using copper strap for battery interconnects. Those I'll probably heat and apply solder to the ends where the connection takes place.

I've discovered that one of the big guns in the battery business, HuP-One, uses lead plated copper bars for their interconnects. 700 amp rating stuff!   :o
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2009, 08:33:51 PM »
Maybe easier, but soldering can be relatively easy.  The copper must be clean - rosin core flux or flux that is not corrosive brushed on.  The flux keeps the metal from oxidizing and possibly tins to keep the copper from getting an oxide coating that woun't take solder.

I use an oxy acetylene  torch with a neutral flame - yellow is carburizing - the feather just pulled in is neutral-  coats the copper with soot, past pulling in the feather to hissing a bit is oxidizing - not good - burns the metal on the outside and solder won't stick.  -

Heat the metal - not the solder - touch the solder to the metal when hot enough to melt it.  Capillary action will pull the solder into all spaces in the joint.  Work around it and move the torch in and out to control the heat.  Maybe a bit easier said than done but it can be done quite nicely.

Now, for batteries I just recommend the buss bars - they are easiest  and neat.
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Offline diyfrank

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 04:40:20 AM »
I think they both have there place. I think crimp and shrink wrapped is best if you have access to the tool. I wouldn't try crimping with a vise or hammer. I've tried and failed at that every time.  You can't get the connector to compress all the way around and get it as secure. The tool works well.  If you can solder the way Glenn suggests, I'm sure you wouldn't have any problems either. I haven't seen them use anything but the crimp method to connect power to a new home.

Don, have you looked at the rental stores for the tool. 
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Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 04:44:26 AM »
I used MAPP gas on my big connectors.  I held the connectors very gently in a vise so as not to pull heat away into the jaws.  I then hit it with heat until I filled it about 1/3 of the way with flux core solder, inserted the wire (keeping heat on the whole time).  I then heated more until I was able to touch the solder to the wire, melt, and continue the fill.  I only put heat on the connector.  Large wire has an amazing ability to pull heat away though.  Oh... and I also wrapped a small wet rag around the insulation a short distance above the connection.  

The distortion to the insulation was kept to a minimum.  I got some flux residue on the outside of the wire cup, but the contacts are clean and the connection seems to be very low impedance.
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 09:14:46 AM »

There --- from someone who obviously knows what he's doing. :)
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline cfabien

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 02:35:15 PM »
Solder connections are easier to make for the DIYer or hobbyist and can be very serviceable. Strain relief on the wires is important. If the wire can flex it will break off at the solder joint eventually.  Properly done crimp connections are usually the best choice when you have the proper connectors and tools. Usually this means a special tool designed especially for the connector you are using. These are usually pricey (hundreds of dollars) but give an excellent, reliable connection and are designed to hold up to production use. Of all the cables I made in my years in an engineering lab, the soldered ones failed most often.

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2009, 08:14:04 PM »
I noticed at the welding supply place that they used the hammer type in a vice the way Don was describing with the long pipe, handle extender. They made beautiful crimps with very low impedance. I have always used heavy welding cable for all my vehicle battery hookups and never had any problems. I'm not sure if that is the right way, but it works for me.
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2009, 07:29:20 PM »
Just adding a thought here as I saw somebody was reading the topic today...

I mentioned someplace else here that there is another type of connector that works well for battery banks that are common in off grid systems. That is to use solid copper bars or straps.  Storm Copper has a huge variety of copper stock available.

There is an ampacity chart to assist in size selection. 

They do sell custom made straps but you can order the copper stock, cut and drill it yourself.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2009, 08:53:17 PM »
I like my copper straps - stole the copper from my son so they didn't cost anything. [waiting]

They are a little neater than the cables

"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline firefox

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2009, 08:29:21 AM »
Came accross this in a Harbor Freight add. Seems like it would do the job. They claim 8 tons max crimping force,
and the price seems reasonable considering the range.
Bruce
======================================================================================
Makes faster and better crimping connections, and saves time and labor.

    * Crimps 12 to 00 AWG copper and aluminum wires
    * Includes 9 pairs of chrome-plated steel crimping dies
    * Dies can be used at multiple angles for easy crimping from any direction
    * On/off knob on handle for easy ram retraction
    * Vinyl-dipped grip for comfort and control
    * Powder-coated jaws


Ram travel: 3/8"; Maximum crimping force: 8 tons; Crimping range: 0-0.45"; Die sizes: 00, 0, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8,10 and 12; Overall dimensions: 12" L x 2" W x 7-1/4" H
Weight: 5.1 lbs.


ITEM 66150-0VGA

$49.99
Bruce & Robbie
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Offline archangel

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2009, 07:46:38 PM »
A crimp is a stronger connection if there is heat as the solder will soften and become weak.

Solder gets deep.

It fills the gaps so it makes a better electrical connection and continuity.

I crimp first and then solder it so I get the best of both.

Offline Don_P

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2009, 04:10:18 AM »
I had an intermiitant open on the old truck last week. If I tapped the fusebox she would start. We were hauling an old building and contents off site so we could start a new one. By the last load I had to impact align the dash. Said goodbye to everyone for the day and yup, no amount of pounding was going to get me going. I unscrewed the fusebox and turned it over, she cranked and got me home.

Exploring it the next day the feed to the ignition circuit had gone dead but somehow the wire had melted into the jacket of the hazard flashers line which is always hot. I have been running on that for some time it appears. That molten plastic connection finally failed last week. The old girl must have decided I needed to get home at some point  :D

It was a larger line than I had a connector for, I soldered it. And at least in that area, yup, I went over the insulation temperature rating.

Offline Dave Sparks

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2009, 09:22:26 AM »
I wish I had a link but here is my opinion from 3 decades of marine and aeropspace. I assume we are talking about large cables or wires. There are very few people who have the equipment and skill to solder. They usually damage the wire with too much heat for too long and a resistive junction forms. This not what you want!!

If the crimping tool is decent and the operator is average it will always be better for most folks. The cables on batteries that go to space are not soldered anymore. Too hard to inspect, and costly if you do (xray)
 
Marine wiring is really the best because there is a good chance the guy's on the ship you sink with poor wiring skills will come back and get you. With Aerospace they probably are not coming back.......... OLD JOKE!

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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2009, 07:33:45 PM »
That's an interesting looking tool, firefox.

I agree with Dave on the thought that too many people think they know how to make good solder joints on heavy wire.  Quality soldering of heavy wires is not as easy as soldering 12 ga. At the very least many people melt/burn the insulation.

It may have been mentioned here back near the start of this topic, I didn't look back, but solder also has a greater electrical resistance then copper. Solder in the joint can increase the resistance. Maybe not always measurable, but it is possible. A good crimp can be better than solder, especially when an anti corrosion treatment like Penetrox is used as well.


My copper bar stock is on order.   :D
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2010, 08:57:28 AM »

Less than a year ago I had both batteries replaced on my truck.  Nearly all connections were re-done with a crimper at the battery company.  Several connections have problems now - a few failed and many of the rest have plenty of corrosion in them.  Solder in the joints would keep out the corrosion at least internally.
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Offline 2zwudz

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Re: Crimp vs. Solder?
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2010, 01:54:56 PM »
    I work in a power plant and we have both methods.  If you prep a solder joint and get enough solder in the joint it is superior to crimping. This is my opinion.

Mark