A daisy chain is an electrical configuration where multiple devices are connected in a linear fashion, one after the other. It’s called a daisy chain because it resembles a chain of flowers called a daisy.
A daisy chain can be used for multiple purposes, such as connecting multiple speakers to one amplifier, connecting multiple lights to one power outlet, or connecting multiple devices to one USB port.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Daisy Chaining: A Primer
- 2 Signal Transmission: A Quick Guide
- 3 Daisy Chaining Hardware and Software
- 4 Daisy-Chained vs. Pigtailed Parallel-Wired Receptacles
- 5 Daisy-Chaining Receptacles: A Quick Guide
- 6 Wiring Electrical Receptacles in Parallel
- 7 What Size Electrical Box Do I Need for Pigtailing?
- 8 Safety Regulations and Codes for Daisy Chaining
- 9 Risks of Overloading and Improper Use of Extension Cords
- 10 Sources to Consider When Dealing with Power Strips
- 11 Differences
- 12 FAQ
- 13 Conclusion
Daisy Chaining: A Primer
What is Daisy Chaining?
Daisy chaining is a wiring scheme in which multiple devices are connected in sequence or in a ring, similar to a garland of daisy flowers. Daisy chains can be used for power, analog signals, digital data, or a combination of all three.
Types of Daisy Chains
- Daisy chains can be used to connect large-scale devices, such as a series of power strips, to form a single long line.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect devices inside of a device, such as USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet cables.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect analog signals, such as an electrical bus.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect digital signals, such as a Serial Peripheral Interface Bus (SPI) IC.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect MIDI devices.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect JTAG integrated circuits.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect Thunderbolt devices, such as RAID arrays and computer monitors.
- Daisy chains can also be used to connect Hexbus devices, such as the TI-99/4A, CC-40, and TI-74.
Benefits of Daisy Chaining
Daisy chaining can be a great way to connect multiple devices with minimal effort. It is also a cost-effective way to connect devices, as it requires fewer cables and connectors than other wiring schemes. Additionally, daisy chaining can help reduce clutter, as it eliminates the need for multiple cables and connectors. Finally, daisy chaining can help reduce signal loss, as the signal is regenerated by each device in the chain.
Signal Transmission: A Quick Guide
When it comes to analog signals, the connection is usually a simple electrical bus. And if you’re dealing with a chain of multiple devices, you’ll need to use one or more repeaters or amplifiers to counteract attenuation.
Digital signals between devices may also travel on a simple electrical bus. In this case, you’ll need a bus terminator on the last device in the chain. Unlike analog signals, digital signals can be electrically regenerated (but not modified) by any device in the chain.
Tips for Signal Transmission
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when dealing with signal transmission:
- Use repeaters or amplifiers to counteract attenuation in analog signals.
- Use a bus terminator on the last device in the chain for digital signals.
- Digital signals can be electrically regenerated (but not modified) by any device in the chain.
- Don’t forget to check out Passthrough for more information.
Daisy Chaining Hardware and Software
Daisy chaining hardware is a great way to connect multiple components to a computing system. It involves connecting each component to another similar component, rather than directly to the computing system. The last component in the chain is the only one that directly connects to the computing system. Here are some examples of hardware that can be daisy chained:
- UART ports
- MIDI devices
- SPI IC products
- JTAG integrated circuits
- Thunderbolt (interface)
Daisy chaining computing sessions is another great way to connect multiple components. It involves connecting multiple sessions together, allowing users to access multiple systems at once. This is especially useful for tasks that require access to multiple systems.
Daisy-Chained vs. Pigtailed Parallel-Wired Receptacles
What’s the Difference?
When it comes to wiring electrical receptacles, there are two main methods: daisy-chaining and parallel wiring. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two:
- Daisy-chaining (or wiring “in-series”) means connecting all the receptacles “end to end” and using pairs of terminals on each receptacle to carry current from one device to the next. If any connection or device in the series is interrupted, the receptacles downstream from that point will lose power.
- Parallel wiring means connecting the receptacles along multiple paths, so that if any of the receptacles fail, the other receptacles on the circuit remain unaffected. In a parallel circuit, the current flow is divided, so only part of it flows through each device.
- In a series circuit, the current that flows through each of the components is the same, and the voltage across the circuit is the sum of the individual voltage drops across each component.
- In a parallel circuit, the voltage across each of the components is the same, and the total current is the sum of the currents flowing through each component.
Why Does It Matter?
The two wiring methods differ not only in the effect of a break or failure of a connector at an individual receptacle, but also in their electrical properties. Knowing which method to use can help ensure your electrical system is safe and efficient.
Daisy-Chaining Receptacles: A Quick Guide
What is Daisy-Chaining?
Daisy-chaining is a wiring method where electrical receptacles are wired in series, or one after the other. This is a common wiring method used in older homes and is still used today.
How Does Daisy-Chaining Work?
Daisy-chaining works by connecting the white (neutral) and black (hot) wires of the circuit to the receptacle’s silver and brass terminals, respectively. The white wire brings the neutral wire of the circuit into the electrical box and connects to the receptacle. The second white wire connects the circuit neutral onwards to the next receptacle downstream. The black wires are connected to the brass or gold-colored terminals or screws, or to the terminals marked “Black” or “Hot”. One of these black wires brings the circuit hot or “live” wire in to the electrical box and connects to either of the receptacle’s “hot” or “black” terminals. The second black wire connects to the receptacle’s second “hot” or “black” terminal and carries the circuit’s hot or live wire onwards to the next receptacle or device downstream.
What are the Benefits of Daisy-Chaining?
Daisy-chaining is a great way to save time and money when wiring electrical receptacles. It requires fewer connectors and wires than the “parallel” wiring method, and is the most common method of electrical receptacle wiring found in homes.
What are the Drawbacks of Daisy-Chaining?
The main drawback of daisy-chaining is that if one receptacle fails or loses one of its connections, all of the receptacles downstream will also lose power. Additionally, back-wiring should be avoided as it is not reliable nor safe.
Wiring Electrical Receptacles in Parallel
What is Parallel Wiring?
Parallel wiring is a method of connecting electrical receptacles to a single circuit, so that if one receptacle fails or loses power, the rest of the circuit remains “live”. This is done by using twist-on connectors and pigtail wires to connect the receptacle’s neutral and hot terminals to the circuit’s hot and neutral wires.
Wiring Connections for Receptacles in Parallel
To wire receptacles in parallel, you’ll need:
- Three wires at each twist-on connector:
– The black or “hot” wire from the circuit entering the electrical box
– The black or “hot” wire leaving the electrical box
– A short black “hot” wire (a “pigtail”) that connects from the twist-on connector to the receptacle “hot” or “black” terminal
– The white or “neutral” wire from the circuit entering the electrical box
– The white or “neutral” wire leaving the electrical box
– A short white or “neutral” wire (a “pigtail”) that connects from the twist-on connector to the receptacle neutral terminal
- Four bare copper wires for grounding:
– Ground in
– Ground out
– Ground to receptacle
– Ground to the metal electrical box (if the box is metal rather than plastic).
Replacing Daisy-Chained Receptacles
If you’re replacing a daisy-chained receptacle with a new one wired in parallel, you’ll need the above materials. This approach requires a larger electrical box, as it will contain more connections, connectors, and thus needs more room.
What Size Electrical Box Do I Need for Pigtailing?
Check the Size of the Electrical Box
When converting from device-wired to a parallel-wired electrical circuit in a string of receptacles, you need to make sure the electrical box size is of sufficient cubic inches to contain the additional wires and connectors. Here’s what you need to know:
- You’ll need 3 neutral wires, 3 hot wires, and 4 ground wires. All of the ground wires are counted as equivalent to 1 of the largest conductors present in the box.
- Twist-on connectors and the electrical receptacle are not counted when calculating the required box size.
- Assuming the circuit is a 15A circuit using #14 wire, the U.S. NEC requires 2 cubic inches per conductor. That means the box must be (2cu.in. x 7 conductor) 14 cubic inches or larger.
- Check out the NEC and ELECTRICAL JUNCTION BOX TYPES for the right box size for your wiring.
Safety Regulations and Codes for Daisy Chaining
- OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2) states that listed or labeled equipment must be installed and used according to the instructions included in the listing or labeling.
- An OSHA Director, Richard Fairfax, stated that manufacturers and nationally recognized testing laboratories determine the proper uses for power strips, and that UL-listed RPTs must be directly connected to a permanently installed branch circuit receptacle and not series-connected to other RPTs or connected to extension cords.
- According to NFPA 1 Standard 11.1.4, relocatable power taps must be of the polarized or grounded type with overcurrent protection and must be listed.
- They must be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle and their cords must not extend through walls, ceilings, or floors, under doors or floor coverings, or be subject to environmental or physical damage.
- UL 1363 1.7 states that cord-connected RPTs are not intended to be connected to another cord-connected RPT.
- The UL White Book (2015-2016) states that relocatable power taps are intended to be directly connected to a permanently installed branch-circuit receptacle outlet and not series-connected (daisy chained) to other relocatable power taps or to extension cords.
- The Office of Compliance from the United States Government has issued a “Fast Facts” document titled Power Strips and Dangerous Daisy Chains. It states that most power strips or surge protectors are approved for providing power to a maximum of four or six individual items and that electrical current overload can result in a fire or can cause a circuit breaker to trip.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.304(b)(4) states that outlet devices must have an ampere rating not less than the load to be served. Overloading a power strip is not safe and can create a fire risk.
Risks of Overloading and Improper Use of Extension Cords
It’s against OSHA regulations to use any equipment that hasn’t been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.303(a)]
Remember, extension cords are only meant for temporary wiring. Don’t use ’em for permanent wiring.
Light-duty cords aren’t meant for powering multiple items, especially high-energy ones. Here’s what you should do instead:
- Use a heavy-duty cord
- Plug in one item at a time
- Make sure the cord can handle the load.
Sources to Consider When Dealing with Power Strips
- U.S. Department of Labor OSHA
- Office of Compliance – U.S. Congress
- OSHA Standard Interpretation
- NFPA 1 Standard
- UL 1363 Standard
- 2015-16 Guide Information for Electrical Equipment—The UL White Book [p569]
- Fast Facts – Power Strips and Dangerous Daisy Chains
- Fast Facts – Temporary Extension Cords and Power Connectors Should Not Be Used for Permanent Wiring
Daisy Chain Vs Leapfrog
Daisy chain wiring is simpler and easier to apply for string panels, especially when a string isn’t in a straight line. It requires a longer return wire, which can be a cause of earthing fault if not pulled through correctly. Leapfrogging, on the other hand, skips every second panel to wire them together on the return path. It doesn’t require a return wire and allows for better extension of the wires behind the panels, reducing their exposure to the weather.
What is the advantage of daisy chain?
The advantage of daisy chaining is that it allows multiple devices to be connected together in a series, allowing for a more efficient use of resources.
Is daisy chain wiring parallel or series?
Daisy chain wiring is parallel.
Can you daisy chain with different cables?
No, you cannot daisy chain with different cables.
In conclusion, a daisy chain is an innovative wiring system used in electrical and electronic engineering. It is a great way to connect multiple devices in a sequence or a ring, and can be used for power, analog signals, digital data, or a combination thereof. If you are looking to use a daisy chain in your electrical equipment, make sure you understand the basics of the system and the various components that make it up. Additionally, be sure to use the correct terminators and amplifiers to ensure the signal is not distorted. With the right knowledge and equipment, you can easily create a daisy chain system that will work for your needs.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe