Electrical connector(redirected from electrical contact)
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A device that joins electric conductors mechanically and electrically to other conductors and to the terminals of apparatus and equipment. The term covers a wide range of devices designed, for example, to connect small conductors employed in communication circuits, or at the other extreme, large cables and bus-bars.
Electrical connectors are applied to conductors in a variety of ways. Soldered connectors have a tube or hole of approximately the same diameter as the conductor. The conductor and connector are heated, the conductor inserted, and solder flowed into the joint until it is filled. Solderless connectors are applied by clamping the conductor or conductors in a bolted assembly or by staking or crimping under great mechanical force.
Typical connector types are in-line splice couplers, T-tap connectors, terminal lugs, and stud connectors. Couplers join conductors end to end. T-tap connectors join a through conductor to another conductor at right angles to it (illus. a). Terminal lugs join the conductor to a drilled tongue for bolting to the terminals of equipment (illus. b). Stud connectors join the conductor to equipment studs; the stud clamp is threaded or smooth to match the stud.
Split-bolt connectors are a compact construction widely used for splices and taps in building wiring. The bolt-shape casting has a wide and deep slot lengthwise. The conductors are inserted in the slot and the nut is drawn up, clamping the conductors together inside the bolt (illus. c).
Expansion connectors or flexible connectors allow some limited motion between the connected conductors. The clamp portions of the connector are joined by short lengths of flexible copper braid and may also be held in alignment by a telescoping guide.
Separable types consist of matched plugs and receptacles, which may be readily separated to disconnect a conductor or group of conductors from the circuit or system. Separable connectors are commonly used for the connection of portable appliances and equipment to an electric wiring system.
Locking types are designed so that, when coupled, they may not be separated by a strain or pull on the cord or cable. In a typical construction the plug is inserted and twisted through a small arc, locking it securely in place.
Plug receptacles, sometimes called convenience outlets, are a type of wiring device distributed throughout buildings for the attachment of cord plug caps from portable lamps and appliances. In residences at least one such outlet must be provided for every 12 linear feet (3.66 m) or major fraction of wall perimeter. Grounding receptacles have an additional contact that accepts the third round or U-shaped prong of a grounding attachment plug. See Wiring