A Brief History of the Anderson Connector

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May 19, 2013

If you have been around electronics, or industrial equipment, you have probably seen an “Anderson” connector. You may have not known it by that name, or even any name at all. They are somewhat ubiquitous and are used in applications from kids’ electric scooters all the way up to massive RV’s and industrial machines.

Having more than likely worked in or near a factory at some point, you have probably seen it on an electric forklift, which seems to be its primary market.

Figure 1: The “Anderson” Connector

Figure 1: The “Anderson” Connector

These connectors are great for a quick disconnect of a DC load. With an asexual (genderless) design, you don’t have to stock but two part numbers (the housing and two pins) in production or maintenance of these. Standard crimp tools can be used for smaller versions of this connector, and an impact-type crimper (the same as what is used on automotive and other large power terminals) can be used to crimp the larger terminals. They are available to handle currents up to 450 amps. Make/break force is low and special configurations, such as single and stackable poles, and make-before-break staggered pins are available. This style of connector is available from a variety of manufacturers. If you’re like me, you’ve seen this connector style for many years, and I was curious as to where it came from.

Figure 2: Genderless pin and housing design

Figure 2: Genderless pin and housing design

The “Anderson” connector gets its name from its manufacturer, Anderson Power Products. The proper name for their connector is the “Storage Battery Connector”  and it was first introduced in 1953 to be used in, you guessed it, the forklift industry. Manufacturers had been looking for a better way to connect their forklift batteries, and this connector was definitely it. The design has remained largely unchanged since that first design although many varieties and iterations have followed. It has also been replicated as I mentioned by many other manufacturers. TE Connectivity offers an impressive and diverse offering of these connectors in it’s Power Series of connectors (http://www.te.com/catalog/bin/TE.Connect?C=16714&M=FEAT&P=186051&U=&BML=10576,16973&LG=1).

Figure 3: TE Connectivity Amp Power SeriesA Brief History of the Anderson Connector 4

Figure 3: TE Connectivity Amp Power Series

As the demand for higher and higher currents in Hybrids, EVs, electric motorcycles, and other medium to large systems increases, this “historical” product continues to evolve and increase in market size. Aside from being used in these areas, they also are widely used by hobbyists and shadetree mechanics for battery disconnects, trailer wiring, and various other home projects that require large-current DC connectors.

Have you ever used one of these connectors, or (potentially) have an interesting use for one today?

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