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What is a Crimp Sleeve?

By Eric Tallberg
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are several methods of connecting wiring together to both maintain electrical flow, and to provide a permanently connected wire joint, such as a pigtail. One of the most effective is a crimp sleeve, also known as a crimp sleeve connector. Crimp sleeves can be used to connect the same or different gauges, or diameters, of wire; they can be insulated or non-insulated, and they can be designated for various types of wiring, copper, aluminum, etc.

Basically, a crimp sleeve is a cylindrical metallic part, resembling a thimble that’s open at both ends. Bare, uninsulated wires of the same or varying gauges are inserted at the flared end, and crimped together. The crimping results in a fast connection that will not easily pull apart. If the wiring is for a pigtail, it is often twisted together, though many time this isn’t recommended.

The easiest way to crimp the sleeve is with a crimping tool. These tools resemble pliers, but are sized for the particular sleeve, and often contain wire stripping and wire cutting features. As a rule, crimping tools are considerably sturdier than ordinary pliers, and, since crimp sleeves are often large and difficult to compress, designed for maximum leverage.

Crimp sleeves are sometimes used to facilitate connection to a wiring terminal, and to ensure continuity of the electrical current. The material comprising a crimp sleeve is conductive, thus providing the necessary measure of continuity in the flow of electrical current. This boost is often necessary when connecting different gauges of wire.

Some types of crimp sleeves are insulated, in most cases using nylon or vinyl, to provide a measure of resistance to corrosion, moisture and heat. Very often, insulated crimp sleeves are used in outdoor applications, where environmental factors may be an issue. In many cases, crimp sleeve connectors are used to connect wiring in electrified fencing, such as that used to contain livestock. It may also be used to connect strands of unelectrified barbed wire. A crimp sleeve is designed as a permanent wiring connection, thus any alterations to the wiring will necessitate cutting the wire at the crimp sleeve.

Crimp sleeves are a bit different from butt connectors, end connectors, or bullet connectors, though each is a crimped connector. Generally, these latter connectors are not as durable as crimp sleeves, and do not require a dedicated crimping tool. A simple pair of pliers will effectively crimp these smaller, more delicate connectors.

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Discussion Comments
By MissCourt — On Jul 07, 2011

@Jacques6 - I'm not sure what you're working on, but you might take into account that you're breaking several sleeves every time. If you got the nicer crimping sleeves, you might save money just by not breaking so many. It's just a thought.

It you want to stick with the cheaper crimping sleeves, try getting just a plain pair of crimping pliers instead of the needle nose ones you're using. Needle nose pliers are handy, but they apply a lot of pressure at once. It sounds like you do a lot of crimping so it might be a good investment.

By Jacques6 — On Jul 07, 2011

Crimping sleeves are great -- as long as you don't squeeze them too hard. I typically use needle nose pliers to crimp the sleeves, but most of the time I have to do it over a couple of times to get it right. I'm not sure if it is because I'm squeezing too hard or because they are breakable.

I always use the round kind because they are cheap. They're useful for basic wiring, but I wouldn't use them for anything too advanced.

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