Power Connectors

What do you like to use for power connectors?

Last year we used XT60 from Hobbyking. We really liked them, but then an inspector warned us that they were unreliable and could catch fire. Doing some research, it turns out there were a lot of knockoffs on the market.

I’m still re-evaluating what we use for 30/40amp connectors.

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The XT60s we use I believe are the real deal, with amass labeled on the connector and look more authentic than others we’ve looked at. We had no issues with them this season and will probably use them again.

Another popular connector is Anderson’s, just pricey.

I would recommend staying away from spade automotive connectors. We’ve had bad luck with those.

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Anderson Powerpole connectors work well, and have the added bonus of interfacing with the 775 Connect so that the contacts don’t get busted.

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You really can’t beat Anderson Power Poles. They’re fast, easy to inspect, and reliable after inspection. Unlike XT60s, they lock with a zip tie or plastic doodad. And they don’t require soldering which is the biggest advantage.

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We use Anderson Power Poles. Quick, easy, reliable. Haven’t failed us yet, and in the few times when there are issues its usually as easy as tightening or replacing it and you’re good.

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Piling on with Anderson power poles. Get the tri-crimp, use the right size, strip the right length, and they’re awesome dependable. You can even arrange them in a custom keyed pattern if you wish.

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We use lever nuts. They don’t need any tools, are totally reusable, and hold up under the intense situations of FRC.

Here’s my “tier list” of connectors: (image is a link if you want to make your own)
image

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I have used both lever nuts and Anderson Power Poles, I personally am a huge fan of the Anderson connectors, I’ve never had a issue short of bad crimps or the contact not being pushed all the way into the housing.

I recommend using zip-ties instead of the small plastic tabs. Zip-ties are stronger, and if your willing to spend the extra bit on small colored zip ties, you can use this as a way to color code your power runs. Simply use a different color for each power run, you can then use the small zip-ties to color code all the way from PDP-Speed Controler-Motor.

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Deans connectors(the red ones with the perpendicular contacts) are up there with XT60s and powerpoles. They’re compact, keyed, and as easy to use as XTs. 1538 uses them often.

Tamiyas(white ones with the retention clip) are sub-F tier. The female connectors end up expanding and not providing a solid electrical connection over time. This is a big reason FTC has moved away from them.

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Interesting, some students on our team had bad experiences with lever nuts.

Would you be willing to go in depth about what you think the issue was? I think Lever Nuts could be great for new teams who don’t have as much time/resources to put into electrical, due to the fact that crimps aren’t necessary.

Looking back at the discussion on discord, it wasn’t as critical as I remembered. One student said that they felt impermanent and he saw no reason to use them because they were more bulky than PP. Another student said the end of wires can become frayed if you are frequently disconnecting and reconnecting them, whereas with PP, the wires stay in the connectors.

So not a complete condemnation, just that they wouldn’t view them in a tier of their own.

Main issue I saw was understripping wires, so you really have to emphasize that the correct length is marked on the lever nut.

Black line (11) on 221s:

Ident on 222s:

On these problematic connections, they were mostly clamping onto the wire insulation.

Another small issue is that wires come back rather than passing through. That 180 degree turn is sometime a little pain, would like to see some straight lever nuts.

I also used WAGO 222s for CAN and my other pain was just identifying which MC the wires were coming from and which slot they were in. I think having a way to label better would help. For 221s, I used 3M number tape nicely. But I need to look for something better for the CAN.

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We use the XT60s for all of our motor controllers and motors, except the Neo where we use a MT60. We use the same connector as PWM for our CAN bus.

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There are a lot of off-brand xt60s but from what I’ve read the only one’s that have caught fire are when they’re crimped instead of soldered. And actually xt60s are really just 5mm bullet connectors in a plastic casing.

Another issue on the lever nuts is clearly visible on the large image of them which @ngreen posted, and which I learned at Rock City as a result of power problems. Go back and look.

— You’ve scolled back up and looked, at ngreen’s first image and evaluated it against the OP, didn’t you? —

Yup, 20A. Don’t use these things behind 30A or 40A breakers, which was OP’s question. I don’t recall exactly how, but stuff was melted and stuff was carbonized. As strange as it sounds, I apologized to the team in question for the inspection team having missed this and passed their inspection. As 3011 is a particularly gracious team, they then and there swore off those lever nuts for 30A and 40A circuits, forgave the inspectors, and moved on!

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221-612 are rated 41A vs the 221-412 being 32A.

https://www.wago.com/us/wire-splicing-connectors/compact-splicing-connector/p/221-612

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As you can see here the one that you reference as being rated for 20 amps is rated for 32 amps. (marked on the other side)

Here is the 221-612 for reference:

Not saying there aren’t higher-rated lever nuts, just that the KoP ones that 3011 was using were only rated 20A, and they hadn’t realized it until their first event of the year was almost done. OBTW, they had used the same size lever nuts on just about every major circuit on their robot, including a number of 30A and 40A circuits; this was not just a minor tweak for them. This problem was endemic for them! I seriously hoped they’d do better at Smoky Mountains.