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Different Types of Heat Shrink Electrical Connectors

An assortment of more than five hundred heat-shrink connectors in various styles and sizes

Heat-shrink insulated connectors are a quick and easy way to hook up trailer wiring and wiring in general. When properly applied, heat-shrink electrical connectors and terminals provide reliable, weather-resistant connections that help protect the trailer wiring from corrosion.

One way to quickly tell heat-shrink connectors is that their insulation is translucent, meaning that you can see a bit of light through them. The insulation on ordinary insulated terminals, on the other hand, is opaque.

If you do a lot of DIY wiring projects, then you're probably better off investing in an assortment of heat-shrink connectors. They're much less expensive that way, and they come with a case to keep the connectors organized. You can then top off your supply of the connectors you use most as you need to. The connector assortment in the picture on this page was made by Wirefy.

There are several different types of heat-shrink wire connectors. The most common are:

Butt splice heat-shrink connectors are used to connect two pieces of wire to each other.

Ring-type heat shrink terminals are used to connect a wire to a bolt, screw, or post when the maximum amount of structural soundness is desired. These are the most secure terminals for applications where vibration is an issue.

Hook-type heat shrink terminals and fork-type heat-shrink terminals are usually used to connect a wire to a bolt, screw, or post when it may be impossible or inconvenient to completely remove the nut or other fastener holding the terminal to the post.

Heat-shrink quick disconnect terminals, which are male and female connectors that can be quickly disconnected or reconnected by pulling them apart or pushing them back together, respectively.

Heat Shrink Connector Color Code

Heat shrink connectors are color-coded to the sizes of wires they're intended for. All of the colors are translucent, which allows them to quickly be distinguished from non-heat-shrink insulated wire connectors. The colors used by most manufacturers and their corresponding wire gauge sizes are:

Here's a short video discussing the different kinds of heat-shrink connectors.

Most DIY wiring enthusiasts start with a heat-shrink connector assortment that contains a supply of the most often-used connectors in all three sizes. The assortment in this video were made by Wirefy, a leading manufacturer and supplier of heat shrink connectors, crimping tools, and other wiring products.

Video: Different Types of Heat Shrink Connectors

When used and installed correctly, heat-shrink connectors provide reliable, long-lasting connections that rival those of solder, but much more quickly and with much less work. They're pretty much the only connectors I use anymore.