Electrical Pigtails

troubleshooting and repairs

What is an electrical pigtail?

An electrical pigtail is a technique used to lengthen short wires or combine multiple wires together and leave one conductor that can connect to electrical devices such as a switch or outlet, and it's simple enough for homeowners to perform on their own.

Knowing how to make an electrical pigtail is a must for anyone into DIY projects. When wires are too short to comfortably and safely work with, this technique can save you a lot of time and headache. This DIY guide explains how to make an electrical pigtail so you can complete simple at-home electrical projects. Read the step-by-step list below or check out our detailed video.

Tools Needed for Electrical Pigtails


  • Screwdriver
  • Wire Cutters
  • Wire Nuts
  • Wire Strippers
  • Voltage Tester
  • Extra Wire

1. Cut Power

First and foremost, cut the power - safety first! You should never begin any electrical work without shutting off all power sources. Go to your breaker box and shut off the breaker powering the electrical wires you'll be working with. Then, if you don't already have your old outlet or switch removed, go ahead and unscrew it from the wall. After you've cut the power, removed the outlet, and exposed the wires, double check that the electrical current is off with your voltage tester. If there is still power flowing to the wires, your tester will light up and/or make noise.

DIY Electrical Pigtails

2. Disconnect from Device

Once you've confirmed the wires are dead, disconnect them from the device and separate your wires by color. There should be copper grounding wires, white neutral wires, and black (or red) hot wires.

DIY Electrical Pigtails

3. Prepare Wires

When you have your wires grouped by color, it's time to prepare them for the pigtail. Clip the end of the wires to the same length, then strip them so that they have the same amount of exposed copper, you only need about a half an inch - this will make it easier to twist them together. Now take your extra, longer wires that you will be making the pigtails with and strip the ends of those wires as well. After you've prepared your wires and they are looking nice and even, it's time to add the pigtail!

DIY Electrical Pigtails

4. Twist Wires Together

Place your extra neutral wire next to the neutral wires inside the box and use your pliers to twist the wires together. (Pro Tip from a Utah County & Salt Lake City, UT residential electrician: twist the wires clockwise! When you add the wire nut, you'll also be twisting it in a clockwise motion, so twisting the wires clockwise beforehand ensures a tight electrical connection). After you've twisted the wires together, clip off the end to make sure everything will be covered by the wire nut. Now you can screw on your wire nut. Repeat this step for the remaining two groups of wires.

DIY Electrical Pigtails

5. Install New Switch/Outlet

Now that you've got wires that are neat and plenty long to work with, you can get ready to install your new switch or outlet. But first, push the bundles of wires into the back of the electrical box leaving only the longer pigtail poking out from the wall. You want to cut down your new pigtail wires to about 6-7 inches so you don't have an excessive amount of wire filling the box.

DIY Electrical Pigtails

6. Finish Up

Go ahead and strip the end of your new pigtail wires to make fresh connections. Attach the wires to your outlet or switch and then push the wires back into the box. Screw the device into the box and install the cover plate. Turn the power back on and test your work. That was easy!

DIY Electrical Pigtails

Still need Help?

We hope that you found our pigtail wiring DIY guide useful. If you're hesitant about doing any electrical work yourself (we know, live wires can be frightening) feel free to contact Any Hour today to set up an appointment to have our professional Utah County & Salt Lake City electricians come to your home. Our licensed electricians can help Utah County & Salt Lake City, UT homeowners with any size electrical project, from a simple electrical pigtail to complete home rewiring.

We’ll never rush you into a decision, but will take the time to help you understand your electrical problem. There’s no such thing as too many questions. We know you have lots of choices as far as electricians. We want to help and hope you will give us an opportunity to prove the things listed above are not just a list on a website but the way we strive to do business.

If you still have questions or would like to schedule an electrical repair service, give us a call and let us know how we can help.

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If you still have questions or would like to schedule an electrical repair service, give us a call and let us know how we can help.

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