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Compass Marine How To | all galleries >> Welcome To >> Marine Wire Termination > Crimp Terminals - Optimal to Sub-Optimal
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Crimp Terminals - Optimal to Sub-Optimal

This photo shows a few of the different types of crimp terminals you can purchase. The terminals in the top row are marine grade crimp connectors with built in adhesive lined heat shrink and are the best possible solution, for most applications, to use on a boat.

As I mentioned there is no such a thing as marine grade terminals but that is what the better quality terminals have become known as. Heat shrink terminals, as seen in the top row, are expensive, but in my opinion almost always well worth it. They are available from manufacturers such as Ancor Products, AMP, and FTZ.

NOTE:When choosing crimp terminals I would urge you to buy from companies with a reputation to uphold and a long history for quality. If you buy from companies such as AMP/Tyco, Molex, FTZ, Burndy, Thomas & Betts (T&B), 3M, Ancor etc. and you will get better quality terminals than the cheap no-name junk that has infiltrated the country over the last 20 years or so.

The second row of connectors are called insulated terminals but are not heat shrinkable. The ring terminals are a what are considered a three-piece terminal and the butt splices are a solid tube with no seam. These terminals stand head and shoulders above the bottom row but keep in mind that they are not sealed connections. As such they are quasi-open to the marine environment. When used in conjunction with UL 1426 tinned marine grade wire these crimp terminals will last a long, long time provided they are not in any direct contact with water, such as in a bilge.

The third row represents Wal*Mart or Harbor Freight quality terminals that should be avoided on a boat. Heck I'd not personally use this crap in a child's tree-fort let alone a boat. Perhaps the biggest issue is that, being of the bottom feeder variety, they tend to vary tremendously in ID and OD and as such it is a crap shoot as to how a crimp will turn out.

A good tip when buying connectors is this; if you can't see through the insulation, it's most likely vinyl, and should really be avoided. The vinyl insulation on this type of connector can and will crack and the raw metal thickness, where the wire meets the connector to be crimped, is very, very weak in comparison to top quality terminals from reputable manufacturers such as those listed above.

TIP:I buy my FTZ heat shrink terminals from (LINK)

For non heat shrink insulated terminals I use AMP PIDG Terminals and buy them where ever I can find the best price. Because they are AMP they are quite expensive so I search around......

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matt 29-May-2017 21:43
Because I repair espresso machines with high current wiring, I have given up on all insulated terminals other than PIDG and essentially create my own using bare unins. barrels, heatshrink and a D crimper to put it together. Rock solid and better than anything out there. Let the alarm and auto stereo installers use the vinyl crap..............
Ron Wilson 04-Aug-2008 12:21
Some very usefull information on this link. But as there is no Marine standard for Crimp terminations anywere in the world ! You should not really call them Marine Grade. Thitems you list as junk look very similar to the products used by large commercial ship builders, I would rather you directed to the quality of the manufactuering and the crimp tools. I am in the process of submitting a marine standard to BSI, who will try to get DNV etc to take this up, via pressure from the IMO.
AMP is no longer a trading company, it is a brand name, AMP was bought by Tyco a few years ago, and all the AMP products are now available under the Tyco Electronics name. Yes I work for Tyco ( ex AMP )
Kurt Lyons 26-Feb-2008 21:11
I use the connectors shown in the bottom photo...Thy're tinned copper but I remove the plastic insulation and substitute my own heat shrink tubing. I also solder all my joints rather than crimp.