A Guide on How to Choose the Right Electrical Connectors
Electrical connectors come in various styles and types depending on your preference. There are power connectors, header, circular, and so on, which all make your ideal choice difficult. Here we will discuss a few tips to look out for in your ideal electrical connector.
- Understand the standard requirements for your ideal electrical connectors
Your choice of electrical requirements will help you to narrow your search. For instance, some questions come to mind, such as the total number of signals, total voltage, and frequency. You could have analog, digital, power, or a mix of the three as your signal.
- Miniature Connectors – check if there is space or size constraint
You can attest that there has been a continued trend aimed at reducing the size of electronic equipment in all categories. There has been a shift from bulky under-desk towers to portable laptops, tablets to wearable computer devices. Many less mobile and stationery items now have wheels for movement; hence, connector’s sizes have been reduced to match the new reality.
- Check the environment where your connector will operate
Lots of connector systems operate in extreme mechanical conditions like vibration or shock. A connector designed to withstand these extreme conditions often comes with unique features like threaded couplings that won’t vibrate and loose or a backshell (strain relief) for wiring harness support.
Usually, the ratings for shock and resistance to vibration will be found in the specification. While products meant to withstand extreme conditions are explicitly highlighted on the datasheet.
Also, check for a product that can withstand extreme temperature as this is a crucial consideration in your choice of connector.
Do you intend to use your connector indoors or outdoors? What about the heat source? Is it close to your connector? Take your time to check the recommended range of temperatures in the datasheet.
- Check the Ingress Protection Rating
Some environments require protection from various levels of intrusion, such as liquids or dust. Most connectors come with environmental sealing options to guide against this, from the simple ones like protective boot and boot adapter for splashes to other sophisticated protection like sealing the connectors.
The IP code system rating usually states the connector’s level of protection. Check the IP rating number to determine if it entails the level of protection you desire.
Lots of industries require protection beyond simple ones like occasional exposure to liquid. For instance, medical and food applications should withstand sterilization procedures where high temperature and water pressure are involved. An environment such as aerospace and underwater may necessitate a tighter sealing as the connector will prove to withstand gas leakage through the system.
- Check if it meets mandatory industry standards
There are various standards peculiar to each industry which OEMs must meet. Some of these standards do not specifically cover connectors but the equipment with which the connector system is associated.
Medical equipment has its standards set by the FDA, while automotive applications meet the SAE standards. It would help if you also took note of multiple MIL standards set on defense-related equipment. The bottom line is that you should always check to ascertain the required standard with your industry.
- Check the Connector Mating Cycles
Another vital aspect to check is the proposed standard use case. Connector matted or unmated, how often will this happen? This could be calculated based using a range of 1 – 10,000 or more cycles.
Sometimes you get both one-time use and several cycles within the same system; you need to check this out. In contrast, the automotive application may have the connectors mated throughout the vehicle life.
Also, check out for specifications such as MTBF or MTTF, which means Mean Time Before Failure or Mean Time To Failure, respectively, which helps to project the estimated product life under “standard” use. This could go a long way to help you make the right choice of connector for your application.
- Check out for the ideal termination type
Terminations help to join the connector socket to a conductor, and it’s usually a wire or PCB trace. Many terminal types are available, including crimped and soldered connections, wire-wrap, or press-fit connectors. Each of them comes with its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, it is easier to repair crimped connections in the field. Your application and its design influence your choice of termination.
Each electrical connector comes with its unique features such as signal combination, design, and so on. You may get confused with lots of options available in the market. However, these seven tips highlighted in his article should help you make an informed decision regarding the best electrical connector.