Monday, April 02, 2012

TOOLS OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR: Anderson Powerpole Connectors

BIANKA has several places where I can tap into the boats 12 volt house battery bank to use external electronic devices. Unfortunately, they are the standard 12 volt cigarette lighter type of sockets.

 Which work but, not always reliably. The plugs can sometimes easily disconnect or just make a poor contact. Normally it's not a big problem but, as has happened if my Engel Fridge Freezer gets disconnected and I don't notice it it can mean a few spoiled meals or warm beers. Looking around for some better connectors to use for some electrical projects. I came upon these Anderson Powerpole Connectors 
They are used by a lot of Ham Radio Operators for connecting power to their radio setups. They make for quick and easy connections. The contacts wipe across each other as you connect and disconnect them which helps keep the contacts clean . Which helps make low resistance connections and means less power is wasted and connections more reliable. Which is not always the case with the cigarette lighter type sockets.
Anderson makes various Power Pole connector models including connectors that have ratings into several hundred amps. In fact BIANKA already had several larger 75 Amp Anderson Power Pole connectors used in connecting the solar panels, wind generator and battery charger into the electric propulsion controller box:

However the ones I'm using most on board for my projects are the three lowest amperage connectors they make:

All three of these connectors fit  the same Power Pole housing but, accommodate different gauge of wire sizes. All three can be interconnected with each other too.

After crimping the wires into the connector you simply insert them into the plastic housing from the rear:

 until it snaps over a metal locking tab on the inside  front the case making for a secure connection that won't pull out:

Another nice thing about the Anderson Connectors is you can slide them together to make nice modular power plugs. You can insert a small pin in the hole between the connectors:

to keep them mated or put a dab of glue too on them too. Though I have found the stay mated pretty good without doing either of those things.

Another nice thing about Anderson Power Pole connectors is that the cases are available in a variety of colors:

Which comes in handy if you have a boat like BIANKA which in addition the a 12 volt house bank also has has a 48 volt propulsion bank and various external devices like solar panels and a wind turbine that operate  at 48 volts. I like that I can use a different color cases to make sure that the proper devices get connected to up to others with the proper voltage.

Another nice thing about Anderson connectors is that you can make up mult cables easily when you need them to power multiple electric devices from one outlet:

The above mult was made using three 15 amp connectors (note they have not been inserted into their proper cases yet)  on the left and a 30 amp connector on the right already inserted into a case. These mults are much less bulky than trying to use one of these 12 volt cigarette type of mults. 

Here is a photo of a completed mult:

and when the Anderson Connectors are mated together:

The Anderson connectors are more reliable too.
 Anderson connectors are not waterproof so I would not use them in the bilge or any areas where they could be submerged. But, in areas where you currently have cigarette type of sockets  they will allow for smaller, reliable and more secure connections.  I've got a few electric projects planned on board and will be showing how I use the Anderson Power Pole connectors  in future posts.

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