Top ten tips for choosing the right connector spec

Top Ten Tips - Electroustic

Top Ten Tips

Connectors come in all shapes and sizes depending on environment and application. There are literally thousands of options, sometimes for the same job. Inevitably, this can cause a lot of confusion.

To make sure you find the best product for every job, there are a few questions you might want to ask yourself before making a purchase. Read through our top ten tips below;


1. What is the physical size of the connector – are you limited in space/height?

Hundreds of connectors are used in wire looms; perhaps even thousands if these are part of an automated manufacturing line. In each case, the requisite space needs to be analysed and correct connector specifications chosen. Sounds simple, but you would be surprised how often people come a cropper.

2. How many poles or contacts are required?

Two, four, six, eight – How many contacts do you need? Different applications require connectors with different poles. Future proofing your choice can be a good idea, especially for a new product. So it’s worth considering whether you should go for more poles than originally required. Conversely, ensuring you’re buying the correct type is advisable before you splash out on hundreds or even thousands for a big job…

3. What is the expected number of mating cycles?

Despite what you might think, mating cycles refers to the number of connection or disconnection operations the connector can withstand, while still meeting the specifications for maximum resistance and pull force. Every connector has an expected number of cycles before efficiency is compromised and the connector needs replacing.

4. Is ingress protection (IP) rating required and to what standard?

Connectors may be susceptible to ingress of foreign materials, such as moisture or dust. Connector protection is provided by the housing and the seal. The IP standard rating system defines the degree of protection provided. The first digit defines the protection against the ingress of dust particles; the second digit defines the protection against the ingress of water. Choosing the right connector for the job is key. You can see a useful spec table here.

5. What is the availability or lead time?

Connector lead times from manufacturer to supplier can be lengthy, running from anywhere between four to sixteen weeks. It’s no good specifying a part that has a typical 16 week lead time if it will hold up the production process. To combat this potential issue, a good distributor will always hold a substantial amount of stock on the shelf.

6. What is the current and voltage rating?

Connectors on power cables often need to withstand large currents or voltages – knowing the top end within a system enables you to pick a connector that can deal with the strain and heat.

7. Is it cost effective?

When crafting wire looms, connectors are ordered in bulk, with the resultant savings passed on to the customer. However, if you need just one connector – perhaps if it’s a specialist part – you won’t be quite as lucky. Again, having a good working relationship with an experienced distributor can result in alternatives being sourced for a fraction of the price.

8. Is there a minimum or maximum operating temperature?

Connectors in harsh environments like those in the oil and gas industry need to be up for the job at hand. Knowing the minimum and maximum operating temperature is essential for specifying a rugged connector which meets the temperature range set by the application.

9. Do you need to meet specific standards and approvals, such as electromagnetic (EMF) shielding, ATEX, Mil-Spec?

Knowing what applications and environment a connector will be operating in is key – we can’t stress that enough. Electromagnetic radiation can interfere with the working of electrical equipment. In applications where this is likely to be higher than usual or where operations are critical, connectors need to have EMF shielding.

Similarly, connectors used in explosive environments must be ATEX certified and components used in military applications need to have Mil-Spec to ensure the highest levels of performance.

10. Does it need to mate with a pre-existing connector? Is it intermateable?

Finally, as any lifestyle magazine will tell you, compatibility is paramount. If you’re retrofitting new connectors to old or simply mating two together in a loom, they need to be intermateable. If not, you risk damage to the system and or data/power loss.

Once you know what you are looking for, take a look though our product pages to see the options you have available. If you need any further assistance in identifying the right connector, get in touch with our technical team at and they will be happy to help.