Make Sure You Install Your Spade Terminals Properly

Spade terminals are a great way of terminating your cables: not only do they make hooking and unhooking a connection much easier, they also help to protect the delicate copper wire found in speaker cables from corrosion which can seriously impact the overall performance of your system, so it’s little wonder that spade terminals are so widely used.

If you buy your speaker cable with the terminals already installed then you don’t have too much to worry about, although it would be worth while just to check that the manufacturer has installed them properly. However, if you buy your spade terminals separately and terminate your speaker cable yourself then it is really important that you install your terminals properly.

In the best case scenario a badly installed spade terminal could degrade the signal and there would be a noticeable drop in sound quality; but in the worst case scenario a badly installed spade could cause your system to short out, resulting in irreparable damage being done to the sensitive electronics inside your audio components.

There are so many different designs and styles of spade terminal that it would be impossible to discuss them all, but most of the higher end terminals feature some kind of insulated jacket, or sleeve, that covers the area where the bare speaker cable is actually attached to the spade lug. If you are using a spade like this then be sure that there are no stray wires sticking out and then carefully fit the insulated jacket.

However, if your spade terminals do not feature this jacket, then it’s up to you to ensure the connection between cable and spade lug is properly insulated. Not only will this help to protect your audio equipment, it will also ensure that you get the very best levels of performance out of your system, and as an added bonus it also makes the connection look much neater and more professional which is important for people who have their audio components on display. Don’t worry; fitting your own insulation jacket to a spade terminal is actually a much easier job than it sounds!

First of all you will need some shrink wrap tubing. You should be able to get this from most audio or hardware stores; you can even pick it up in most car maintenance stores too. When this tubing is heated it shrinks and forms a neat jacket that helps to insulate the connection between the speaker cable and spade lug; it will also help to keep the connection securely fastened.

Fit the spade terminal onto the end of the speaker cable as per the instructions and then cut a length of the shrink wrap tuning so that it is long enough to cover the joint. Slide the tubing over the top of the joint, leaving just enough room to slightly cover the actual spade lug.

Use a heat gun to shrink the tubing onto the cable to create a secure seal. Remember you are trying to get the tubing to cover as much of the exposed metal as possible in order to minimize the risk of shorting out your whole system; making sure most of the exposed metal is covered in shrink wrap also helps to reduce the risk of corrosion. If you have never used shrink wrap tubing or a heat gun before then it’s a good idea to have a few practice attempts before you actually do this for real since it can be hard to judge how far the tubing will shrink, which can lead to some messy or insecure seals.

Once you are finished you can use a sharp knife to trim away any excess shrink wrap to leave you with a professional looking result. Now repeat this process for the rest of your spade terminals and then sit back and enjoy the peace of mind that your home entertainment system is fully protected.