10 considerations for selecting the right battery connector

Xiaoran Guo Product Manager, RND

With a degree in Automation and Control System, Xiaoran comes from an engineering background and is passionate about electronics. Xiaoran joined Distrelec in July 2017 as a product manager and is now assisting with product management for the company’s own brand RND, where she is leading the project to build the product portfolio for T&M and electro mechanics categories.

Choosing the right connector is critical to product efficiency. Choosing the wrong connector will lead to poor performance and, in industrial situations, can bring entire systems to a halt costing the business time and money.

10 considerations for selecting the right battery modular connector

The term “modular” refers to a family of connectors that can be tailored to meet a customer’s goals within the confines of a product’s capability. Battery modular connectors are ideal for customisation and afford engineers the freedom to design and configure their own system.

In spite of their broad application, few manufacturers offer this type of component. When presented with limited options, it is important to consider a number of factors when selecting the right battery connector for your project.

Common considerations when using battery modular connectors include its application, the environment in which it will be used and the chosen connector itself. Connectors should be assembled and used according to the equipment and the manufacturer’s instruction, as well as in compliance with local and international electrical codes.

Our handy guide below will simplify the selection process, and connect you with the right product to enhance your innovation’s performance.

1. One pole vs. Two pole connectors

Whilst three and four pole battery connectors do exist, the most common types of battery connector are those with one or two poles. Selecting the right one will depend entirely on its intended purpose as each possesses different attributes.

One pole connectors:

These are typically used in material handling equipment such as forklift trucks and, due to their flexible stacking, are ideal in power connectors for handheld devices. Single pole connectors are genderless, offering simplified assembly with a minimal number of components.

  • Compatible crimp contact can accommodate wire size from 4-50 mm
  • Stackable housing both side-to-side
  • Customizable to each power connection
  • Modular housings can be grouped into plug frames with or without latches which mate with receptacle housings

Two pole connectors:

Capable of withstanding high current and power, they are often used in electric vehicles and power connectors for uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).

  • Four basic housing sizes that ensure specific amperage or wire sizes are filled into a compact space
  • Accommodate wire sizes up to 70mm
  • Maximum operating voltage of 600V
  • Positive and negative polarities
  • Colour coded to provide visual reference for proper mating

To ensure that circuits do not accidentally cross-mate, features have been moulded into the mating interface of connector housings so that only housings with the same mating interface can mate together. These can be identified by the colour of the connector housing which corresponds with the voltage that industrial trucks, batteries and chargers use universally to prevent the cross-mating of incompatible voltages.

2. Current capability

All battery connectors have a rating to indicate the amount of current that they are capable of withstanding. The required current level will affect both the design and the materials of the connector which must correspond with the amperages. The current capacity and voltage rating of the connector will determine the size, number and spacing of the contacts.

3. Voltage capability

Connectors have a maximum operating voltage that, if exceeded, will not be safe for operation. Ensuring that the appropriate connector is used for the required voltage is imperative as often greater insulation is required as voltage increases.

Colour coding is used to assist with choosing the right battery modular connector for your application, making differing voltage connectors easily identifiable. By ensuring that only like-for-like colours are mated, the misconnection of components is avoided. The housings mate together using plugs and receptacles of the same colour where the connector can be rotated 180° so that similar parts can be plugged together.

RND colour selection chart:

One pole

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Two pole

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4. Gender

The gender of a connector refers to how it plugs in or is plugged into and is typically male or female accordingly. However, some battery connectors are gender neutral, avoiding concerns as to which end is the plug or the socket. Gender neutral connectors provide greater flexibility in design with board-to-board or wire-to-board options and are more universal as separate connectors with different genders are not required. This can be useful when reducing inventory costs and may be of particular interest to those working in field maintenance where one connector will suffice without having to carry multiple variations for different applications.

5. Materials

  • Housing material

Polycarbonate (PC) is ideal for housing connectors due to its strong, insulating and heat resistant properties. This material is so durable that it often outlasts the electrical component that it houses, and can easily endure challenging environments. Given the broad application of these components, this is essential.

  • Terminal material

Whilst connectors can be made from a number of different metals, silver plated connectors have the highest conductivity of any metal and, due to its relatively soft material, move more when mated. This creates a larger contact area and in doing so lowers contact resistance. Silver plated components are also easy to solder, resulting in more reliable and conductive connections.

6. Termination type

Terminations are used to join connectors to their relevant conductors and can be achieved in a number of ways depending on the terminal type used. Terminal types include crimped, soldered, press-fit or wire-wrap connections with the most commonly used being crimped connections.

Advantages of crimping include;

  • designed to be gas-tight, preventing oxygen and moisture from making contact with metals and causing corrosion,
  • mechanically stronger than soldered connections as no alloy is used,
  • crimped connections can be used for cables in small and large cross-sections unlike wire wrap which is only applicable in small cross-sections,
  • installation is less dangerous and less time consuming than soldering.
  • heat-shrink insulation and grease filling makes crimped terminations superior in environments that are prone to motion and vibration.

7. Accessories

To improve the performance and life of battery connectors, there are a number of accessories available that will enhance the component’s capability. Choosing a connector with compatible accessories may prolong its life and maximise its efficacy.

  • Handles-“T” and “A” handles make mating and unmating the connector easier. Made from strong, non-conductive plastic and with screws to secure the handle to the connector housing.
  • Dust covers-prevents dirt and dust from entering the mating interface of the connector.

8. Life of the connector

Every connector has a finite life that is measured in mating cycles according to the amount of wear that it can withstand. USB connectors for instance, are repeatedly connected and disconnected and so become less efficient over time. Lifespans of connectors can vary hugely between models, so it is crucial to choose a connector with an appropriate mating cycle for its intended purpose.

Regular maintenance checks are recommended to maximise the life of connectors as, if damaged, connectors, cables and contacts can become hazardous. Damage may also lead to the inefficient operation of the battery and charger which can be avoided by checking for:

  • Dirty connectors
  • Melting connectors
  • Cracks and missing pieces
  • Excessive heat including the discolouration of housings
  • Corrosion on contacts
  • Loose attachments
  • Damaged handles

9. Durability

Durability is a key consideration when choosing the best battery connector for your application. Factors such as its material, life span and the conditions of its external environment should all be considered when determining the required durability of a connector for your application.

10. External environment 

As battery modular connectors can be used in a huge variety of applications, the conditions within which they operate will vary greatly. Factors such as temperature, flammability and the size of the component should be considered when choosing an appropriate connector to ensure that it will work effectively in its environment. For applications in more hostile environments additional factors may need to be accounted for including vibration, kinetic shock, shielding, oils, solvents and corrosion if the connector is exposed.

2 Pole Battery Connector Kit 50A Red

This kit includes a red 2 pole battery connector housing and 2 crimp contacts

2 Pole Battery Connector Kit 50A Grey

This kit includes a grey 2 pole battery connector housing and 2 crimp contacts

2 Pole Battery Connector Kit 175A Red

This kit includes a grey 2 pole battery connector housing and 2 crimp contacts

2 Pole Battery Connector Kit 175A Red

This kit includes a red 2 pole battery connector housing with 2 crimp contacts

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