An electrical connector is a conductive device for joining electrical circuits together. The connection may be temporary, as for portable equipment, or may require a tool for assembly and removal, or may be a permanent electrical joint between two wires or devices. There are hundreds of types of electrical connectors.
An ideal electrical connector would have a low contact resistance and high insulation value. It would be resistant to vibration, water, oil, and pressure. It would be easily mated/unmated, unambiguously preserve the orientation of connected circuits, reliable, carry one or multiple circuits. Desirable properties for a connector also include easy identification, compact size, rugged construction, durability (capable of many connect/disconnect cycles), rapid assembly, simple tooling, and low cost. Many connectors are keyed. This can be used to prevent incorrect or damaging interconnections, either preventing pins from being damaged by being jammed in at the wrong angle or fitting into imperfectly fitting plugs, or to prevent damaging connections, such as plugging an audio cable into a power outlet.
Common types of electrical connectors include
- Terminals: A simple type of electrical connector that connects two or more wires to a single connection point.
- Terminal blocks: Terminal blocks (also called terminal boards or strips) provide a convenient means of connecting individual electrical wires. They are one of the most flexible types of electrical connector available. Note that the terminals are generally not very well protected from contact with persons or foreign conducting materials.
- Binding Posts: A general type of connector simply screws or clamps bare wire to a post; such connectors are frequently used in electronic test equipment and audio.
- Crimp-on Connectors: Crimp connectors are typically used to terminate stranded wire. They fulfill numerous uses, including allowing the wires to be easily terminated to screw terminals, fast-on / quick-disconnect / spade-foot type terminals, wire splices, various combinations of these. Crimped connections fulfill similar roles, and may be thought of similarly to, soldered connections.
- Insulation displacement connectors: Since stripping the insulation from wires is time-consuming, many connectors intended for rapid assembly use insulation-displacement connectors so that insulation need not be removed from the wire. These generally take the form of a fork-shaped opening in the terminal, into which the insulated wire is pressed and which cut through the insulation to contact the conductor within.
- Plug and socket connectors: Plug and socket connectors are usually made up of a male plug and a female socket. Plugs generally have one or more pins or prongs that are inserted into openings in the mating socket. The connection between the mating metal parts must be sufficiently tight to make a good electrical connection and complete the circuit.
- Component and device connectors: Electrical and electronic components and devices sometimes have plug and socket connectors or terminal blocks, but individual screw terminals and fast-on or quick-disconnect terminals are more common.
- Blade connectors: A blade connector is a type of single wire connection using a flat blade which is inserted into a blade receptacle. Usually both blade connector and blade receptacle have wires attached to them either through soldering of the wire to the blade or crimping of the blade to the wire.
- Ring and Spade Terminals: Electrical contact of terminals in the shape of a ring or spade is made by passing a screw or bolt through them. Their sizes can be determined by the size of the conducting wire AWG and/or the Screw/Bolt diameter size designation.