For smaller jobs, it’s not that hard to crimp wires and butt connections by hand. When you’re only trying to take on a fistful of common wires, the standard handheld crimping tools you’ll find at any hardware store can probably handle the job. But when you’re dealing with larger wires or more of them, you’re going to want bigger and better tools more equal to the task.
Hydraulic crimpers are exactly that. Compared to manual crimping, hydraulic tools can save you considerable time and effort. With the force of hydraulics, you’re able to get crisp and sharp corners on each crimping job. Hydraulic crimpers are also your best choice for crimping larger, thicker connections. In short, they provide efficiency and power where it’s needed.
Choosing a Hydraulic Crimping Tool
The quality of a crimping tool ultimately wears down to the quality of its dies. Among all the parts of a hydraulic crimper, they’re the mechanism that’ll will experience the most wear-and-tear. If you choose an unreliable crimping tool, it’s the dies where you’re most likely to suffer, especially if you expect your equipment to last beyond a couple of tough jobs.
And it’s important to pay attention to the details of each model you consider. A hydraulic crimper that’s equipped to crimp an exceptionally large copper wire won’t necessarily have the strength to take on an equally large wire of different construction. Those kind of material limits are partially determined by the strength of the crimper, but largely determined by the tensile strength of its dies. Hardened steel and similar sturdy composites are the hallmark of excellence among consumer-grade crimpers.
Most hydraulic crimpers make use of hexagonal style crimps, which are ideal for making firm mechanical connections. They’re among the most popular type of hydraulic crimping tools because the allow force to be split over many directions, preventing damage to conductors. But there are a number of different standards out there including intent-style crimps, so you’ll want to be sure the crimper has the necessary connections for the jobs you have in mind.
It’s good to have an idea of how much force you’ll need for the kind of crimping tasks you have in mind. Thicker wire requires more power to get the appropriate amount of force for a crimp. If you’re not certain of the kind of forces you’re working with, then all you really need to know is that more force allows a crimper to take on thicker wires and tougher materials.
Whenever a crimper tells you how well it handles some material but doesn’t name it, you can rest assured that they’re referring to copper. Cutting through copper isn’t terribly difficult, but things are different when you end up encountering aluminum or some less common conductor. Greater force is required, which is why you need to pay attention to the fine print for any manufacturer’s performance claims.
For creating properly shaped crimps and forcing butt connections together, you need to have the right dies for the wires at task. Hydraulic crimper kits nearly always include an assortment of dies to help you take on a variety of common sizes, but the specific size of the dies will vary widely from one kit to the next. But it’s the quality of their construction that’s most important. Even of every other part of the crimping tool is excellent, weak dies can everything all on their own.
Often times, the best sign of a quality tool is in the kind of extras that come along with it. For example, having a lasting warranty tells you that the manufacturer has confidence in whatever it is they’re offering. Nearly all hydraulic crimping tools will include some variety of carrying case, but the usability and quality of the case’s material can vary widely. Even if you’re not particularly interested in the quality of the case, it’s fair to say that higher quality products tend to be those with better casing.
The TMS WL-YQK-300 has a lot to offer. It’s ease of use makes it simple and safe, while remaining versatile and powerful enough to take on the most common variety of cabling sizes. As long as you’re not doing industrial repair, you’re probably not going to encounter anything the TMS crimper can’t handle. And relative to its price, its construction is somewhat spectacular.
Build & Design
How you feel about the quality the build will depend on what kind of tools you’re used to working with. Neither in your hands nor aesthetically, the TMS WL-YQK-300 doesn’t feel like a top shelf product. But its underwhelming appearance is deceptive.
Within, this crimper supports an impressive 16 tons of crimping power. Power like that means this crimper is equipped for both rapid crimping and squeezing down large lugs for a smaller fit. And that impressive power is paired up with the included set of 11 hexagon dies, providing this crimper with a fairly wide range of versatility. The quality of the dies is largely reflective of the price of this kit. They’re composed of steel so you’re not going to encounter any serious issues with material quality, but nevertheless those dies are not equipped for endless wear-and-tear.
This crimper includes a matching hard plastic carrying case, which is necessary to help keep the crimper and its hex-dies together. The dies included extend a relatively standard range of sizes, spanning from size 16 to 300mm If you’re not familiar with those standards, they correspond to a ¼” die, and a 1 1/16” die. The crimper itself can be a little unwieldy due to its lengthy 18” design, but that its hefty 13-pound weight is nicely distributed across its body.
There’s no getting around the fact this crimper looks a bit cheap. But that’s largely an aesthetic failing, not a mechanical one. Internally, this crimper has what it takes to get the job done. And in spite of its somewhat gaudy appearance, its construction is quite sturdy for a crimper in this price range. Even the awkwardly shiny handles serve to provide an excellent and firm grip, ensuring the weighty body of this crimper doesn’t become an issue.
TEMCo Hydraulic Cable Lug Crimper TH0005
Among industrial tools, TEMCo is brand name almost as large as Walmart. Reputation aside, what makes TEMCo’s TH0005 stand out is its versatile crimping range, spanning 6 AWG to 600 MCM. Within that wide range, this crimper can push out 11 tons of crimping force. Apart from gigantic aluminum lugs, this crimper’s combination of force and dies are equipped to take on just about anything.
Build & Design
TEMCo’s construction includes a durable black oxide crimp head that’s ready to take all the pressure the crimper can throw at it. Black oxide helps ensure the material construction of this crimper won’t chip and flake with steady use, as is common with chrome-plated materials. That sturdy black oxide construction continues on to each of the crimper’s dies.
TEMCo also forged each of those metal parts as opposed to casting it, which helps ensure that you get the same performance from your crimper on the first use and its hundredth. All in all, every part which will undergo significant amounts of stress have been doubly reinforced in one fashion or another. In spite of the quality of its construction, the TH0005 still feels somewhat lightweight in your hands, weighing in at just over eight pounds.
This crimper includes a set of one dozen dies, spanning AWG 6 to 600. It also includes a full hydraulic rebuild kit that can help you repair the TH0005 should something happen to your crimper. While you’ll most likely never end up needing to use the rebuild kit, having one on hand ensures you can stay up-and-running even if the worst is to occur. And TEMco includes a 5-year warranty, which goes a long way towards reflecting the confidence they have in their product.
Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with professional quality equipment, it’s sometimes common for ease of use to suffer slightly. The most complicated aspect of using the TH0005 is probably installing the dies. Doing so is a matter of finding one that matches the size of your terminal, closing the release valve on the crimper, pumping the handle until you hit significant resistance, and then opening the release valve. In other words, it takes a couple minutes of learning to get used to using the TH0005.
Goplus 16 Ton Hydraulic Wire Terminal Crimper
The Goplus 16 is a modestly powered hydraulic crimper that’s somewhat transparently been made for personal garages, home workshops, and similar small-scale applications. But that doesn’t mean the Goplus 16 lacks features. On the contrary, it’s head can be rotated a full 180°, allowing you to bring effective crimping within cramped workspaces. For power wires, battery cables, welding cables, and electrical cables, the Goplus 16 is worth a close look.
Build & Design
One thing that’s easy to see about the Goplus 16 is its high quality construction. The primary materials are hardened steel. Although the Goplus 16 is on the inexpensive side of things, it doesn’t feel cheap while you’re working with it. That may be in part due to the chrome finish, which improves the aesthetic of the Goplus 16, and ultimately helps provide a longer service life. If nothing else, the Goplus 16 is lightweight and portable, with the full set weighing just over 6lbs.
Like most hydraulic crimpers, the Goplus 16 includes its own yellow hard-plastic box for storage of the crimper and its dies. The sturdiness of the box is somewhat low, but proportional to the quality of tools in this price range. Inside the box you’ll find a set of 11 dies, spanning a standard 16-300 mm range of connections. Although on the inexpensive side of things, it’s been built with an exceptionally safe design, including an automatic pressure release to keep the tool operating within its limits.
Choosing Between 3 Sturdy Hydraulic Crimpers
The Goplus 16 is essentially an entry-level, inexpensive hydraulic crimper. If you’re looking to replace a handheld crimper for a more efficient means of crimping wires and butting connections, then it’s a great choice. For smaller systems of power wires and electrical cabling, the Goplus 16 makes it easy to get into tight spaces and finish jobs quickly. But if you’re putting in hundreds of hours crimping, or you’re trying to do crimping on much larger types of wires, then the Goplus 16 isn’t going to cut it.
In many ways, the TMS WL-YQK-300 is a full step-up from the Goplus 16, making it more of a midrange hydraulic crimper. It’s a good choice for people who need power, provided you’re working within a common 16-300mm range of cabling sizes. Once your wires are getting significantly larger than one inch in diameter, then you’re going to run out of dies this kit can help you with. But within those limits, the TMS crimper delivers beautifully. It’s a good choice for someone who expects to put a modest amount of wear-and-tear on their crimper.
Finally, the TEMCo crimper is for people who see their tools as a long-term investment. It includes an exceptionally wide range of crimping dies. The black oxide construction is backed by a sturdy warranty, and reinforced with a free included hydraulic rebuild kit. When you’re buying tools, you tend to get what you pay for. And with the TEMCo hydraulic TH0005, you’re paying for lasting quality and the ability to take on even exceptionally thick cabling. For anyone looking for a long-term investment, TEMCo’s crimper is an excellent choice.