Connector current ratings ensure that connectors are used in a safe fashion – and one that is appropriate for the situation it is being used in. They also help predict how long the connector will last. By knowing how to properly use a connector, we’ll be able to limit system failure and damage to our equipment.
To make the best decision possible, it’s good to know that the people that manufacture connectors understand the importance of connector current ratings. Sure – it would be great if the rating was customized to the specs the consumer is buying it for. But that obviously is not possible. There are too many possibilities that exist to make that happen. To address this concern, connector manufacturers use fixed testing methods to determine connector current ratings. That way, the end user/consumer does not need to worry about how these ratings apply to any possible scenario.
Some of these testing methods follow connector manufacture standards. Others are more customized to unique needs. To address these differences, testing methods are varied.
But how are these connector current ratings developed? They are primarily based on a temperature rise curve. In other words, they plot the rise in temperature against increasing current levels. This tells us a lot about the kind of heat generated by different connectors under different current loads. Using this method, the tester can determine the current load that causes failure.
However…a variety of factors can change the current rating. Here are a few:
- The location of the temperature-sensing probe
- The location of the contacts
- How failure is defined
- How testing samples are prepared
Keep this in mind as you consider the current rating of a high power connector. The number alone does not tell the whole story.