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HomeTips & GuidesCable Terminals – Types and How to Chose the Right Terminal

Cable Terminals – Types and How to Chose the Right Terminal

About Cable Terminals: As you know, cables are vital for communication and power supply between electrical components. But for these cables to connect your device properly, you will need the correct cable terminal. With that clear, let’s see what cable terminals are, their types, and how to choose the correct terminal.

What Are Cable Terminals?

Typically, cable terminals are uniquely shaped conductors that you fix at the ends of electrical cables. Some people also call them cable lugs. 

Their job is to properly connect a device or system to another. Good terminals are durable, and you can install them on various cables. 

Additionally, they come in different materials and designs based on the devices you wish to connect.

Assorted cable terminals

Assorted cable terminals

Cable Terminal Types

Let’s look at some of the available types of cable terminals.

Copper Terminals

Most people recommend copper terminals due to their high conductivity, flexibility, installation ease, and longevity. 

As you may know, copper can withstand most elements, which means it is reliable and durable even in harsh conditions. 

Besides that, manufacturers usually tin-plate these terminals for enhanced corrosion protection, making them suitable for outdoor and marine use.

Aluminum Terminals

Unlike aluminum terminals, copper terminals are lightweight and cost-effective. 

Despite that, their high-grade aluminum construction and affordability give them wide usage. For example, you will find them in electronics where batter heat dissipation.

Tinned Copper Terminals

As the name suggests, these cable terminals feature a copper construction reinforced with tin metal. 

The tin acts as a protection layer against elements for added longevity and functionality. In fact, tin resists oxidation, corrosion, and other damages caused by high temperatures. 

As you can see, what we have discussed above is the cable terminal types depending on construction. 

Now, we discuss terminal types depending on design, but first, let’s see what bimetallic cable terminals are.

Bimetallic Cable Terminals

Sometimes you can have a terminal of one metal, and the contact end on the electronic has a different metal. 

When this happens, one of the metals gets corroded by galvanizing action to facilitate electron flow. 

While this may seem good scientifically, it deteriorates one metal, thus reducing the lifespan of the connection. 

You can expect such a scenario when working with an aluminum terminal and a copper contact. To curb this, you have to use bimetallic cable terminals. 

Such terminals feature two metal construction friction welded to prevent dissimilar metal contact. 

For example, you can have an aluminum barrel and a copper palm terminal for durability and reliability. 

Here, the aluminum barrel comes into contact with aluminum cabless while copper accommodates busbar contact, thus reducing galvanic corrosion. 

Bimetallic cable terminals are found in switches, distribution boxes, and solar plants. Let’s examine some terminal designs based on the bimetallic method.

Ring Type Terminals

You mostly use the ring terminal to join a cable to a screw stud connector. While one end of the terminal is a ring, the other is a barrel to crimp the wire to the terminal. 

The crimping allows for a tight connection, while the ring ensures the connector does not slip from the circuit. 

This design makes them reliable in buildings and switchgear. Something else to note is that these ring terminals can be either insulated, non-insulated, or bimetallic.

Ring cable terminals

Ring cable terminals

Pin Type Terminals

As the name suggests, these terminals come with a pin and a tube, making them reliable for industrial connections. 

The tube features lightweight aluminum construction, while the pin is mostly brass for reliability and strength. 

Such terminals ensure the termination of cables in terminal blocks and are easy to connect due to their ‘I’ shape. 

However, they can only work in low-voltage connections, such as connecting cables to relays.

U Type Terminals (fork type)

U-type terminals are the same as ring ones, only that the ring is complete and the U is not continuous at the end. 

They also both connect on the stud screw connector, but the U type is more easy to connect. 

While the ring requires you to completely remove the nut, in U type, you just need to loosen the nut a bit. 

For this reason, you will find them useful in tight spaces where removing the nut is challenging. 

In addition, they are useful when connecting several cables to one stud, such as switches and circuit breakers.

How to Choose the Correct Cable Terminal

Check some of the factors to consider below:

  • Connector: First, ensure the terminal you choose can link properly with your gadget connector. For example, a nut stud would mean you choose a ring or U-shaped cable terminal.
  • Material construction: Since you want a terminal that will last for many years, the construction is vital. Copper is the most durable in this regard due to its ability to withstand various environments. You can also go for bimetallic terminals or those plaited for added protection and, hence, longevity and reliability.
  • Ease of Installation: You must also check how your terminal is easy to crimp on the wire. In addition, you want to check if it connects easily with your electronic terminal without much stress.
  • Current load: Lastly, different materials handle electrical loads differently, so check your current load. For example, in high-current applications, you require good conductors that can’t melt easily.

Examples of connected terminals 

Examples of connected terminals 

Wrap Up

As discussed above, choosing a good terminal is vital for enhanced electrical connection. 

Depending on what you want to transfer and the connection environment, make sure you choose the correct type of terminal.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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