Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anderson Powerpole Connectors

With my increasing number of 12V appliances, thoughts quickly turned to what would be an appropriate standard power connector. In the past, these appliances have had a huge range of different sized cylindrical or barrel plugs with different polarities, typically powered by a 240V plug pack.
One DC power connector which has gained some prominence is the 'Powerpole' or 'Anderson' connectors. These connectors have been chosen as the standard DC power connector for Amateur Radio operations, particularly where emergency and disaster relief operations are in mind. (eg. by WICEN)
These connectors have a couple of unique features. The most obvious is their shape.The 'plug' and 'socket' ends are identical (and symmetric) and can be used as either end of a connection. The blade contacts themselves are self cleaning, in that the motion of connection and disconnection allows the terminals to scrape any foreign material from the electrical connection area.
For those mathematically astute people, the connectors are symmetric under a rotation group. (Look out for further discussion of this in another blog post.)
The connectors come in several different ratings, but for the most common sizes for which I'm interested (15amp, 30amp and 45amp), they share the same plug enclosure, but take different sizes/gauge of wire.
There was some research required to relate the US wire specification (maximum current and gauge) with the Australian ratings (maximum current and cable cross section.) Bunnings sells cable for outdoor lighting, which had a cross section of 3.3mm^2, which corresponds to 12 gauge wire, the size that is rated for 30amps. This cable is twin core and all black, not the pretty red and black 'zip cord' that is available from the Anderson Connector distributor, but I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work.
For more information on Anderson Connections see the Powerwerx website (a distributor).

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