Electrical Panel Connectivity: Considering the Best Options
Terminal blocks, connectors/cordsets, and interface modules connect electrical and control panels to the outside world. To ensure that the electrical interfaces between panels and field wiring perform reliably for the long haul, panel designers need to consider the best connectivity options. This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue of InTech magazine.
Much of the focus of electrical and control panel designers is on selecting, arranging and protecting internal components. After all, locating power and automation equipment in the field, close to the loads and devices they serve, is the main purpose.However, it is also important to properly select, design, and install components to make associated electrical connections. Even though wireless is becoming popular for certain types of communications, it is often still necessary to connect electrical wires using terminal blocks or other connectors.Whether for commercial or industrial use, these panels and the associated connections can be in harsh environments, with extremes of temperature, liquids, chemicals, vibration, and more. To ensure that the electrical interfaces between panels and field wiring perform reliably for the long haul, panel designers need to consider the best connectivity options. Terminal blocks, connectors/cordsets, and interface modules are the basics worthy of attention.
Interface modules combine terminal blocks and connectorized cables to provide the highest possible connection density, and they are typically used for programmable logic controller and similar signaling and I/O module applications (Figure 3). One wire harness connects between an I/O module and the interface module, with the interface module installed on a DIN rail. The harness may use industry-standard IDC, D-Sub, or MDR connectors as needed.
Regardless of what combination of terminal blocks, circular connectors, and interface modules designers choose for panel connectivity, there is more to consider. All components should be recognized or rated by the proper agencies with regard to standards such as UL508, UL1059, and IEC 60947. These standards ensure the materials and component construction are sufficient for industrial use. Furthermore, designers should think about usability features such as color coding, along with easy provisions for marking and tagging.Electrical and control panels are necessary for almost any application using electrical power or automation. By using modern connection options, designers can save significant panel space and create equipment that is easy to fabricate, install, and maintain. Labor costs are reduced, and the right connection products provide improved reliability, functionality, and safety throughout their lifecycles.
Figures courtesy of Dinkle International.
Matt Hou is a sales engineer for Dinkle International and has been an integral part of the development of the Dinkle Corporation’s USA subsidiary since 2018. Hou holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo in Canada.
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