A far better way was developed. Solderless connectors (“wire nuts”) make for a more efficient workflow and, if properly deployed, result in quality connections every time. An additional advantage is that for testing or alterations, the wire nut can be removed and replaced easily.
Soldering is still essential in electrical work although it is used less frequently. If you need to make a splice where space is limited, such as inside an appliance or hand tool, soldering is the way to go. Printed circuit board components are soldered in place when first manufactured and for repairs. In motor enclosures where the leads have been cut too short or where there could be excessive vibration, soldering is appropriate.
Stranded wires that must go under a screw terminal may be tinned to good effect, and inside old light fixtures that are being rewired, soldering is sometimes the best answer. Crimp-on connections for high-current applications (such as three-horsepower and over submersible pumps) gain conductivity and reliability by having solder run into the crimps on either side of the slide-in connectors.
Soldering differs from welding, where the metals to be joined are heated sufficiently to melt to some depth to achieve the good penetration required for great strength. A soldered joint usually consists of two copper surfaces with solder adhering to the surfaces and absorbed below the surfaces to a very short depth. The copper is not melted. Not all metals are equally suited to this process. Copper works very well. Stainless steel cannot be soldered. As for brass, it depends upon the alloy. Some brass solders just like copper, while some is not suitable at all for soldering. Aluminum can only be soldered using specialized materials and techniques.
One of the problems with aluminum is that you can get a very nice looking joint that is not good at all. Not all of this is a problem, however, because the only soldering you will ever need to do, most likely, is copper to copper. It is worth noting that the NEC prohibits solder joints in certain applications, notably ground electrode conductors, where a heavy surge could melt the connection.
When soldering wires, they must first be twisted or looped together to make a strong joint that cannot wiggle. Then the soldering process adds strength and conductivity. For a solder joint to succeed, the right materials must be chosen, along with the correct technique, appropriate to the scale of the work.
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