Proving the age-old adage that good things come in small packages, the Space Saver EMT Set Screw and Compression Connector from Cooper Crouse-Hinds garnered the most votes from EC&M readers to secure the Platinum Award in the magazine's 2005 Product of the Year competition.

Space Saver EMT connectors are used to join EMT conduit to a box or enclosure. Designed with the male threads on the locknut, the Space Saver takes up virtually no room inside the box. Angled teeth on the locknut bite into the box, which prevents loosening from vibration, and the smooth, rounded inside surface eliminates the need for a bushing or insulated throat. As simple as this product appears, readers were impressed by how innovative it is. Who would have thought that you could offer so much improvement on a fitting that has been around for more than a hundred years?

As is often the case, the idea for this product originated out of discussions with the guys who install these products on a daily basis — electricians. “One of the big things that's been discussed in the field lately is the use of labor-saving products,” says Jack King, commercial marketing manager of Cooper Crouse-Hinds. “When you try to put a switch in a handy box with a traditional EMT fitting, you always have to clip the device screw to get it to fit. We realized this was a pain and waste of time for the electrician. So we set out to design a better product.”

The connectors are UL- and cUL-listed and come in trade sizes of 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1-inch in set-screw and compression styles. The set-screw connector features a tri-head set-screw that may be installed using a slotted Phillips- or Robertson-head screwdriver. The compression connector features a split compression ring, which ensures both solid attachment to the conduit and good ground continuity. The hex surfaces on the compression nut allow for quick wrenching.

Although the Space Saver was designed for use in a steel surface-mounted box, a few innovative electricians have already found a few other uses for it. “One contractor used the space saving connector to make a transition from threaded conduit to EMT,” King says. His use was more of a material-savings approach than a labor-savings approach.

But the custom applications don't stop there. “A Connecticut-based contractor took the chase nipple type nut off, threaded in a traditional squeeze connector and used it as a combination coupling going from EMT to FMC,” King says.

Just as the Space Saver has taken on a life of its own, so has the Product of the Year competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition was established to honor excellence in new product development for the electrical industry. The prestigious Platinum Award showcases the most innovative product of the past year and recognizes inventive products that help electrical professionals do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

This year's contest pulled in another record-breaking number of entries — 136 in all. Product submissions represented every major product category offered to the electrical construction and maintenance markets. In fact, this year's group of category winners represented some of the most innovative products in the contest's history. The diverse selection of products ultimately led to the closest competition to date, with just a few votes separating the top three vote getters. The first and second runners-up are listed on the next page.

But in the end, it was a little space-saving product that took home the biggest prize.