What Are the Different Electrical Connector Types?

Electrical connectors are common components of various devices, used to join conductors together for the formation of an electrical circuit. Thousands of connector types have been produced over the years to accommodate varying applications, those of which include audio and video connectors, data connectors, and power connectors. As building blocks of various electrical systems and devices, it can be very beneficial to have a basic understanding of some of the more common connector types so that such devices can be constructed and maintained with ease.

While a plethora of connector types are available for varying applications, most can be compiled into one of four basic categories which differentiate connectors by their functionality. Inline or cable connectors are those that have a cable connection, allowing them to be attached or plugged into a terminal. Chassis or panel connectors are permanently situated on an equipment piece, enabling the connection of a cable to a stationary device. With PCB mount connectors, which are those soldered to a printed circuit board, a cable or wire attachment can be made to certain hardware with ease. Lastly, the spice or butt connector is one in which two wire or cable lengths may be attached together.

Beyond such basic categorizations, there are also a number of other ways to differentiate between varying components. Rectangular connectors are a common shape for various types, advantageous for their high degree of customization, mixed media capabilities, and the ability to fit into tight spaces. Generally, rectangular connectors serve various modular machines and can transfer power signals, data signals, coax signals, and more. Circular connectors are the other major variation, often being used for free-hanging connections that are either passed through a tray or are mounted. Generally, circular connectors are designed and intended for more intense environments where protection is put in place such as EMI and RFI shielding, IP ratings, and more.

Another method of separating components from one another is by their style of coupling. Quick connect couplings are those with plastic fittings in place of threaded or flanged connections, allowing for users to rapidly replace various parts with ease. Snaplock couplings are somewhat similar in their ease of management, featuring a compression coupling that permits quick release actions. Threaded couplings, meanwhile, feature male and female threads that mate together for an efficient connection. Bayonet couplings have a similar approach to attachment, utilizing contact pins and mating sockets that permit the couplings to plug and twist into each other. The final coupling style is the push-pull coupling method which provides a strong locking mechanism that retains a connection until the coupling is squeezed and pulled apart.

When deciding between various connectors, connection types, and couplings, it may also be useful to consider the terminal bonds that may be present. Crimping is very common for a number of connectors, and such methods require the use of tools or machines to deform and compress the metal parts of a connector. Such methods may allow for an individual to conjoin two wires or attach a wire to a terminal. Soldering is the other major type of terminal bond, and such bonds are created with the use of a solder material that is melted onto the joint of electrical components so that a permanent, conductive bond is established.

By better understanding the difference between various connector types and their connection methods, establishing and maintaining an optimal circuit can be done with ease. Fulfillment 3Sixty is an online distributor of aircraft parts and other various components, providing customers access to an unrivaled inventory of over 2 billion new, used, and obsolete items. If you find particular components from our website that you are interested in, we invite you to begin with a competitive quote for your comparisons which you may receive through the submission of an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website. See why customers choose to rely on Fulfillment by 3Sixty for all their operational needs today when you initiate the purchasing process.


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