An electrical connector is an electromechanical device used to join electrical conductors and create an electrical circuit. Most electrical connectors have a gender, that is, the male component, called a plug, connects to the female component or plug. The connection may be removable (as for portable equipment), require a tool to assemble and remove, or serve as a permanent electrical joint between two points. An adapter can be used to join different connectors. It can also be a type of electrical connection without the aim of being removable, but rather of splicing two cables in a more definitive way.
Thousands of connector configurations are manufactured for power, data and AV applications. Electrical connectors can be divided into four basic categories, differentiated by their function
• Inline or cable connectors permanently attached to a cable, so it can be connected to another terminal (either a fixed instrument or another cable)
• Chassis or panel connectors permanently attached to a computer so that users can connect a cable to a stationary device
• PCB mount connectors soldered to a printed circuit board, providing a point for connecting cables or wires. (eg, plug headers, screw terminals, board-to-board connectors)
• Butt or butt connectors (primarily insulation displacement connectors) that permanently join two lengths of wire or cable
However, this classification does not contribute much because each of them is very extensive, so we invite the user to discover within the different subcategories of connectors the different types of connector depending on the use to which it is going to be used.
Although technically inaccurate, electrical connectors can be seen as a type of adapter to convert between two connection methods, which are permanently connected at one end and (usually) detachable at the other end. By definition, each end of this "adapter" has a different connection method - eg. ex. the solder tabs on a male phone jack and the male phone jack itself. In this example, the solder tabs attached to the cable represent the permanent connection, while the male connector part interacts with a female plug that forms a detachable connection.
There are many ways to apply a connector to a cable or device. Some of these methods can be accomplished without specialized tools. Other methods, while requiring a special tool, can assemble connectors much faster and more reliably, and facilitate repairs. All of this leads to a wide variety of ways to connect a cable to a connector. From connectors that are bolted, that are welded, that are connected by screw, that are connected by insulating displacement, without tools of any kind, .... The range is very large.
The number of times a connector can be connected and disconnected with its counterpart while meeting all of its specifications is called mating cycles and is an indirect measure of the life of the connector. The material used for the connector contact, the type of coating and the thickness is an important factor that determines the mating cycles.