Do you ever wonder why connectors are needed when we can just use a twist nut or splice two tie wires together? Why do industrial connectors come in so many different styles and specifications? The purpose of using connectors is not only to connect wires, but to avoid potential hazards, save time and reduce power loss. Connectors are useful not only for connection but also for disconnection, and hence they can save a great deal of time and headaches.
But the question remains, how do we know which connector we need and how to choose the proper industrial connector for the application? Every connector has its unique properties and specialties; choosing a suitable connector enables smooth functioning of power or signal transmission. When it comes to selecting an industrial connector, there are certain parameters that you must consider.
Every connector package is designed for a specific wire gauge. Always choose a connector that perfectly matches your wire gauge otherwise you increase electrical resistance at the connection point. The wire gauge is usually printed on the cable. Globally AWG (American Wire Gauge) is more common, but other standards are also used in some regions; make sure you us the proper gauge wire for your connector based on the current it will be carrying.
Outer Diameter of Cable
Just like wire gauge, note the outer diameter of the cable. Cable sizes differ according to specification, and it is essential to choose a housing (connector) with a large enough inner diameter so that the cable can fit in properly. Choosing a connector with smaller inner diameter can damage the cable, affect current capacity and cause difficulty in the fitting. Similarly, choosing a connector with a larger inner diameter can lead to lose connections and the possibility for arcing or sparks.
Number of contacts
Make sure the number of contacts in both cable and connector is the same. Most standards organizations such as UL, NEC, NFPA do not allow for ganging multiple wire into one terminal or crimp connection. You may also need to consider ground in your power connection calculations. If it is a signal you will need to pay attention to frequency and where the power contacts (pins) or wires will be located.
Voltage and Current Rating
Every cable and connector is specified for a limited voltage and current range. Always choose a connector rated for the same voltage and current range as your cable. You can always overrate the current and voltage carrying capacity, but never underrate. The material, size and even the contact area of connectors affect the flow of current and potential difference, so choosing an improper connector can lead to malfunctioning.
Selecting an industrial connector demands more than just cable specifications. It is recommended to assess the environment before selecting a connector as some connectors are not suitable to be used in harsh environments. Many of the connectors Dynamic represents work effectively in extremely harsh or rough environments. For example, standard aluminum connectors are well suited for indoor (dry & moderate temperature), but they are prone to corrosion and inefficiency in outdoor environments. Whereas rugged industrial connectors perform well even in outdoor environments where they can be exposed to shock and vibration, EMC, high temperatures, water, dust and humidity. But when it comes to using connectors in marine environments, near or in water or where it is extremely humid, stainless steel or brass alloys connector tend to be the most suitable.
Flexibility and Rigidity
Some applications are highly susceptible to vibrations and bend. It is essential to choose a flexible connector so that it can withstand movements and will not deteriorate. In the case of bends, special connectors with wire mesh or strain reliefs are used for the protection of cables.
In some cases, the connectors are prone to chemical contact. Since chemicals can damage and affect connectors, special connectors made of stainless steel or PVC can be used for longevity.
Is That All?
Primarily, the factors mentioned above are the most important factors to be considered when selecting industrial connectors, but for better efficiency, it is recommended to consider the scalability of the project. Choosing a more standard connector that is compatible with modern equipment will be useful in the long-term if at any stage the equipment is upgraded.
Selecting the right connector for industrial needs demands technical knowledge. There are companies that specialize in connectors and would be considered expert resources for connector advice. It is recommended to avail the services of a technical person for selecting the best connector for your equipment.