A crimp connector is a type of solderless electrical connector used for terminating stranded wire. Depending on the type, crimp connectors, sometimes called crimp terminals, can be terminated to different configurations of spade-foot connectors, wire splices and screw terminals.
The first step in affixing a crimp connector is to use a wire stripper to remove the electrical insulation from the end of the stranded wire. It is common to see ¾ in. as a general guideline for how much wire to strip, as this is fairly standard for residential electrical wiring. However, the length of insulation that needs to be removed is truly application specific and should be cross-referenced with manufacturer guidelines, especially in industrial use.
Once the insulation is removed, the exposed wire is inserted into the connector. The crimp fitting is then compressed (crimped) around the wire with a pair of crimping pliers. When done correctly, this connection is both mechanically sound and gas-tight.
There are many different types of crimp connectors but the most common are barrel and open barrel. With barrel type connectors the stranded wire is inserted into the cylindrical metal opening (hence, “barrel”) and then crimped. This is perhaps the most commonly seen type of connector.
Open barrel connectors are also aptly named as the “barrel” is spread open into a V or a U shape. A wire is cradled into the connector before it is then crimped close. Since the wire can be laid into the connector as opposed to being threaded into it as with barrel connectors, this type of connector is easier to use in automated applications. These connections are generally stronger than those created by barrel connectors. The strength and ease of use make them common for automotive and industrial uses.
There is much debate over the advantage and disadvantages between crimped and soldered connections. Which connection makes the most sense depends heavily on the specific size and type of wire as well as the application.