Thursday, 17 August 2017

Product Review - Wago Connectors

I was re-wiring my garage recently, when I got fed up screwing wires into choc blocks. I figured someone must have come up with a better way of connecting wires together, got Googling, and found these guys - Wago Connectors:

Wago make lots of different kinds of connectors, some of which are re-usable. Those are the ones I went for. For historical reasons, there are two kinds of re-usable connectors. The 222s:

And newer 221s:

Both kinds come in 2-way, 3-way and 5-way forms. (For connecting the respective number of wires together.) The 221s are slightly more expensive, and take up about 40% less space. But they do the same job of letting you join wires together. Potentially wires of different gauges (such as when connecting twin and earth solid-core to multi-core flex cable used by most appliances in the UK.)

I can highly-recommend these useful little guys. They sped up the job considerably, and have proven very reliable in use.

I don’t have a fidget spinner, so I kept a few of these connectors on my desk over the next month or so to footer with whilst coding. Opening and closing the levers repeatedly. From that unscientific "test", I can say that the 222s are quite a bit more robust than the 221s. After a few hundred “opening and closing” operations on their levers, the more expensive 221 wouldn’t stay open fully any more. It is still usable, and I could hold it open whilst inserting a wire if I really needed to. But then it becomes just as fiddly to use as a choc block. So if you're going to be installing/uninstalling and re-building a lot, I'd say go for the 222s. If weight is a primary concern (e.g., building a drone) then use the 221s or just solder and accept that greater build time and reduced ability to dis-assemble is the price you pay for less weight.

On the upside, the levers on the 221s are considerably easier to open. Though neither is particularly difficult. There is a dedicated tool for opening them that costs over £100, but really it's a ridiculously over-engineered solution that I can't image anybody needing. Even people that are installing these all day would have no difficulty opening them with just their fingers.

The first time you open one of the 222s, you’ll be unsure if it’s broken. Because its jaws initially open to about half way quite easily, then you need to use substantially more force to open the lever all the way. It can also give you a nasty “mouse trap” snap on your fingers if you’re not careful whilst you close the lever to clamp your wire in place.

Over all, I think I’ll be using the cheaper 222s where space isn’t a consideration. To that end, I bought a box of the 3-way and 2-way 222s, and a box of the 5-way 221s. (Since when I need to connect 5 wires together, that’s usually when space is tightest.)

With regard to their ratings, I'm honestly not quite sure what amperage / voltage they can take. The problem is there are two ratings on each model. (Presumably to satisfy more than one set of tests for different markets.) 

The 222s are rated at "20A 300V" on one side and "600V" on the other side. The 221s have labels showing they are variously rated at "450V 32A" or "20A 300V". Confused?, you will be? Here is a YouTube video of someone actually burning the things out to test their limits

In practical use, I've had no problems having about 10 of these things in the same switch. I've also used three in series on the same circuit.

2-way 222 connectors: £13.23 for a pack of 50 @ Screwfix 

3-way 222 connectors: £15.13 for a pack of 50 @ Screwfix

5-way 221 connectors: £13.80 for a pack of 25 @ Screwfix 

Addendum: Thelma quite enjoyed these little devices too. She reports that the 222s, being rounder, are 50% “more chasy” than the “boring” more square 221s. They therefore fly faster when she bats them with her paws to simulate spontaneous movement.