In the world of electrical components, there can often be some confusion surrounding terminal block connector types. For many people, a terminal and a connector may seem so similar that they can be interchangeable. However, there are many clear differences. So, what is the difference between a terminal and a connector? Continue reading our helpful guide to discover more.
What is a Terminal?
A terminal is an electrical accessory. It is an endpoint and acts as the reusable endpoint to a conductor, where you can connect circuits. In this sense, a terminal is almost a connector.
This component is also known as a terminal block, is made of metal and is sealed inside a plastic casing.
A terminal contains holes at both ends, through which a wire can be inserted. The general use of a terminal block is for connecting internal and external wiring of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and power terminals.
Terminal block connector types included mounted, screw-based or screwless terminal blocks, and connectors. Screwless connectors are ideal for us with test and measurement equipment, robotics, energy metering, building automation and electrical devices.
What is a Connector?
A connector is a component that connects two active devices in order to transmit signals or an electrical current. There are two parts to a connector, and they are the plug-in and the connector.
Connector is also a general term, also known as a connector assembly, which connects different circuits.
<h2>What’s the difference between a terminal and a connector?</h2>
When comparing terminals and connectors, there are some practical differences in the application of both. For example, if you have two wires you’d like to connect or disconnect whenever you want, you would use a terminal for this. Using a terminal block, you can easily connect and disconnect the wires at any time, and with no soldering required.
There are a wide variety of types of wire connectors, which reflects the broad range of applications they have. There are circular connectors, rectangular connectors, stepped connectors, and more.
They can also have different properties, depending on the conditions and the circumstances in which you use them. These difference features include:
- Locked – Held in place with a mechanism that prevents accidental movement or breakage.
- Keyed – For connecting only when in the proper orientation, preventing accidental damage from insertion in the wrong socket.
- Water-resistant – Protection from water damage due to splashes or dampness.
- Hermetically-sealed – For complete but safe submersion in water.
- ESD shielded – Protection from electrostatic discharge.
- EMI or RFI filtering – Protection from electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI).
- Oil or moisture-resistant – Protection against oils and moisture of any kind.
Does the Difference Matter?
In an electrical application, it is important to ensure you select the correct component for the task. The main thing to note here is that although a terminal or terminal block can be different from a connector, it’s also a type of wire connector in its own right.
This can seem a tad confusing, but it makes more sense after looking closely at the different practical applications of terminals and connectors.
How do you choose terminal block and connector types?
Most electrical installations will require conductors of different parts of a circuit. To do this, a connector type, whether it’s a terminal block, a junction box, or something similar, would need to be used.
However, the decision on which type of wire connector to use must also take in account safety requirements for electrical connections.
British Standard BS 7671 is the current standard for electrical wiring in the UK. When selecting your means of connecting wiring, you must consider:
- The material and insulation of the conductor
- How many wires there are, and their shape
- The cross-section area of the conductor
- How many conductors you’re connecting together
- What temperature the terminals will reach during normal service
- Whether you need some form of locking where there could be vibrations or thermal cycling.
- Your connectors must also be accessible for inspection, testing and maintenance.
Terminal blocks at Hitaltech
Hitaltech supplies and manufactures a wide range of terminal blocks and connectors. Various pitches are available from 2.54mm right up to 19mm on some series of products and the range also covers a wide variety of current ratings from as little as 8A right through to 125A with voltage capabilities to match and there are horizontal, vertical or angled mounting options available.
This allows Hitaltech to offer electronic terminal blocks or connectors to suit many different industries and applications.
For help with choosing the right terminal block or connector please get in touch.