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Spade, Blade & Bullet Terminals: Where And Which One To Use?

Spade, Blade & Bullet terminal

Spade, Blade & Bullet Terminals: Where And Which One To Use?

Electrical control panels and distribution boards contain a wide variety of instruments and components based on their application. All the components are interconnected with wires of different colours and sizes using termination kits, terminal blocks, and shorting links regardless of the application. The other components, such as terminal blocks, help in creating tidy and organised wiring within the panels. You may think that simply soldering wires together is the way to go, but this is not always the ideal solution. This is because wires inside various equipment often need to be disconnected and connected back for reasons such as maintenance, repair, and replacement. There is a need for wires to be connected so that they are easily removable and reassembled. This is where connection terminals are an ideal component to use. 

However, there are many types of connection terminals that you can use, each with its own applications and benefits. We will discuss the spade and blade, and bullet terminal types specified in this article. We will also answer the following questions: What are connection terminals? Where can they be used? Which one should you use? Please continue reading to find out.

What are connection terminals?

Electrical terminals often referred to as connectors, are electrical components that create a connection between electric circuits or different parts within an electrical circuit. You can use them to create an overall large circuit that can be usually reassembled and disconnected at will. Typically, connection terminals are easily removable or require a particular tool to be reassembled. Sometimes, the connection between these terminals is permanent. 

Wires are attached to these terminals through soldering or crimping. Additionally, terminal connectors tend to be labelled male and female depending on the terminal you are plugging into. There are various types of connection terminals that each have their uses. We will be discussing spade and blade and bullet terminals. You can disconnect these terminals at will with relative ease.

What are spade and blade terminals?

Spade and blade terminals are the most common type of electrical terminals. They fall under the category of quick-connects which are used for wiring in equipment that requires constant connections and disconnections. They consist of three components usually:

Spade Terminal Connectors in black, yellow, blue and red colours

Spade: Spades are the socket side of the terminal. You can also think of them as the female component of the terminal. Connections can be made with them, allowing current to flow through.

Blade: Blades are the plug side of the terminal. You can think of them as the male component of the terminal. They can be connected to the spade connector to form an electrical connection.

Fork: You can use forked spades to connect wiring that uses a clamping hold down. They allow wires to be removed or installed with relative ease.

Blade Terminal connectors in yellow, red and blue colours.

Where are spade and blade terminals used?

Spade and blade terminals are crucial terminals for the manufacturing industry. They are ideal for use when there are high amperage loads involved. Additionally, connector blocks make use of mini spades. They are the most widely used terminals in cars and can be part of components like speaker units and switches. They are primarily used to connect wires to components and relays. However, regular spade connectors are not well insulated, making them unreliable, especially if the environment is dangerous. However, self-insulating spades can reduce this problem.

What are bullet terminals?

Bullet terminals are another quick-connect terminal ideal for equipment where the wiring requires frequent connections and disconnections. They work similarly to spade and blade terminals, where one connects to the other. They are known for their round barrel design, which is present on both the male and female components of bullet terminals. The male bullet terminal connects to the female one, establishing an electrical connection. Bullet terminals see much less use nowadays as spade and blade terminals began to replace them. In the past, however, they were prevalent. They were used in various applications, such as in cars made by Ford back in the 50s.

Where are bullet terminals used?

Bullet terminals were the most common terminals back in the old days, with car companies like Ford and Mercury using them. Therefore, they are still useful for vintage cars, including bullet terminal connections. Bullet terminals are ideal for use when there are low amperage loads involved. Additionally, bullet terminals will not come apart if subjected to vibrations. 

However, bullet terminals have seen reduced utility in recent years for various reasons. They are harder to separate, making them a nuisance in equipment requiring connections and disconnections. Additionally, when trying to disconnect bullet terminals, it can result in the wire accidentally detaching. Even if you manage to disconnect them, this can be a problem. This is because long-term connecting and disconnecting can result in the terminals getting worn out and damaged. Bullet terminals are also more expensive, including the crimpers for attaching them.

Spade and Blade vs Bullet Terminals – Which connection terminal should you use?

This article has looked at two types of connection terminals, including their qualities and benefits. Additionally, we have seen where you can use each of these terminals. The consensus is that spade and blade terminals are the better options for equipment and wiring where you need to make frequent connections and disconnections. They are used much more commonly, which means most appliances are equipped for them. They are also readily available and cheaper while allowing you to disconnect your wiring easily. In this way, spade and blade terminals are the way to go for modern equipment wiring.

However, there are still appliances and equipment that need bullet terminals, such as vintage cars. You certainly have the option to replace bullet terminal connections with spade and blade ones. But this can be a lot of work and can damage the circuitry. In this way, we recommend that you use bullet terminals instead. This will ensure that the circuitry is not affected and works as intended. Therefore, you should use bullet terminals in these particular cases.

Regardless, it would be best to consult an expert or look at the specifications of the appliance or equipment before you decide to use a terminal. This will tell you precisely what connection and terminal you should use. Different machines consist of varying circuitry, so connections can always be different. It is always a great idea to have various types of connection terminals on hand as you may never know when you may need them.

To sum up

Various appliances and equipment that we used consist of complicated circuitry. This circuitry requires connections and disconnections for reasons like maintenance and inspection. In such a case, connection terminals are ideal components. They are used to form an electrical connection between circuits and components within them. 

There are two types of terminal connections discussed in this article. Spade and blade terminals consist of the male blade that is connected to the female spade. On the other hand, bullet terminals consist of rounded barrel connectors where the male component connects to the female one. Spade and blade terminals are more widely used than bullet terminals, which were popular in the past. In general, spade and blade terminals are better as they are more reliable when connecting and disconnecting. However, bullet terminals are required in some instances, like for vintage cars.

We hope this article proves insightful and allows you to ascertain which connection terminal is ideal. Thank you for reading. 


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