The Anderson Powerpole is a family of electrical connectors by Anderson Power Products (APP), although plug compatible connectors are now available from alternate sources. Specific variants of this series of connectors have become de facto standards for conveying "higher power" direct current (DC) electrical power, although these standards are inconsistent and sometimes ignored.
Powerpole connectors are physically and electrically hermaphroditic, thus avoiding the need to worry about which end is the plug and which the socket, or which end has the correct polarity. This is in contrast to the physically- but not electrically-hermaphroditic two-wire trailer plug.
Powerpole connectors are available with current ratings up to 180 amperes. The size most commonly used is the 15/30/45 ampere-rated variety. These sizes all use the same plastic housing in multiple colors, differing only in the metal contact inserted into the housing (selected based on the ampacity and wire size). The colors can be used to signify signal types (power, speaker, logic, microphone audio, etc.) or differing voltages. Powerpole connectors can be attached side to side and also stacked on top of each other to make, for example, four connections with one plug insertion. The contacts are rated for 100,000 no-load insertions and 250 hot-plugs at full load.
Larger Powerpole connectors (the SB/Multipole series) with two or three contacts in one molded housing are commonly used in various industrial settings, including as a battery connection for some uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), removable vehicle winches, many electric forklifts, and other electric vehicles.
The Powerpole connector was designed and patented by "Albert & J M Anderson Mfg Comp", then more recently by "Anderson Power Products".
|Patent Number||Patent Year||Filing Year||Patent Title||Notes|
|US2838739 A ||Electrical connector||Earlier related concepts|
|US3091746 A ||Electrical connector|
|US3259870 A ||Electrical connector||Primary powerpole patent|
|US7153152 B1 ||Electrical connector with planar contact engaging surface||PP75 connector|
|WO2004051681 A2 ||Finger proof, keyed power connector and methods thereof|
|WO2005059969 A2 ||A wire to board connector and methods thereof|
|USD604246 S1 ||Electrical connector|
For the larger multipole design, which is available in up to 700 A sizes, each color is physically keyed so as to mate only with a like colored connector, and Anderson published a list of recommended voltage for each color:
|Alternate non-Anderson-suggested uses|
|Some APC brand 24 V internal UPS battery packs.|
|See the note in the last paragraph of the Amateur Radio section below|
|Wide use in the Amateur radio community at +12 VDC (13.8 VDC) for emergency power and mobile radio use.|
Used by Warn brand of automotive winches at +12 VDC (13.8 VDC) power to the winch motor.
Sometimes used by outdoor enthusiasts for +12 VDC (13.8 VDC) battery charging, especially with photovoltaic panels.
Some model railroads at +12 VDC. Some robots, such as FIRST Robotics Competition.
Some Tripp Lite brand 24 VDC external UPS battery packs.
|Some +12 VDC (13.8 V) automotive use in Australia, such as caravan and camper battery charging, pumps, solar power systems.|
Frequently used by outdoor enthusiasts for 12 VDC (13.8 VDC) battery systems.
Some APC brand 24 VDC internal and external UPS battery packs.
Some Tripp Lite brand 38 VDC external UPS battery packs.
Some Lees brand 36 VDC forklift traction battery connections.
|Some APC and Tripp Lite brand 48 VDC external UPS battery packs.|
+9 VDC in some audio equipment.
|Green is the worldwide color for the frame ground, safety or "earth" / "earthing" ground.|
|Ground for amateur radio, automotive/RV/caravan, winches, model railroads, robotics.|
|-48 VDC in some telecommunications equipment.|
|+5 VDC in some computer equipment.|
- Model railroad uses all of the above colors for various purposes.
De facto standards
The Powerpole connector has been adopted by many segments of the Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) community as their standard 12-volt DC power connector for everything from radios to DC power sources to accessories. Two notable groups are Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES). Standardization allows equipment owned by different hams to be used together without needing adapters in emergencies, at public service events, at field day, during contests, when borrowing equipment, etc.
The Anderson Powerpole connector is more expensive than the older de facto standards of the two-wire trailer plug and the Molex connector, but provides a more reliable electrical connection (both mechanically and electrically), and is easier to adapt to a wider range of wire gauges. Another advantage over the older trailer or Molex connectors is the Powerpole's superior ratings to withstand 100,000 no-load insertions and 250 hot-plugs at full load. The specific hermaphroditic nature of the powerpoles is a significant advantage since batteries can be both a power source or a power sink, a power supply can be connected to a radio and/or a battery, and multiple batteries, radios, and/or redundant power sources can be connected in parallel using the same power distribution panels. Connectors in which non-hermaphroditic contacts are arranged in a hermaphroditic arrangement (such as bullet connectors used in low end solar equipment) can be electrically incompatible (reverse polarity damages equipment) and non-hermaphroditic connectors can be mechanically incompatible with each other (won't mate).
Many pieces of amateur radio equipment run on 12-volt DC automotive voltage, which is also called 13.8-volt DC. The voltage delivered by a lead–acid battery with six-cells used as an automotive battery will vary depending on various electrical loads in a vehicle. Without loads the battery will float from 11.7 to 12.8 volts, and while charging from an alternator the voltage will increase to 13.8–14.4 volts DC.
For use in amateur radio, the community has adopted a standard color code, polarity, and specific physical arrangement for assembling pairs of Powerpole connectors. One red and one black powerpole housing can be physically arranged in 4 topologically different mechanical orientations (red left, red right, red top, red bottom - when viewed from contact side with tongue up), 2 of which are mechanically incompatible (connectors won't mate with ARES) and 1 is electrically incompatible (will mate but reverse polarity) with the ARES standard; there are also additional unusual configurations in which one housing is rotated 90 degrees. The standard is red positive and black negative. When viewed from the contact side, a mnemonic for remembering the arrangement is: "Red [on] Right — Tongue [on] Top" (note the first letter alliteration).
West Mountain Radio, a major amateur radio supplier, has had a few 24 V DC products in their catalog for over a decade. They incorporate a 24 volt standard that has the orange body as +24 volts. An orange and black pair would be +24 volts on the orange and ground on the black.
In model railways, the NTRAK Modular Railroading Society adopted the Powerpole PP30 connector as a recommend practice in 2005. and as a standard in 2011. The use of the older Cinch-Jones connector has been deprecated, but is still permitted on legacy modules. However, the owner of a module with Cinch-Jones plugs is now required to provide adapter cables to the newer standard. North Raleigh Model Railroad Club (NRMRC) also uses Anderson Powerpole connectors. The Free-mo modular standard adopted Powerpole as the new connector standard as of 1 July 2015, with a one-year transition period to convert existing Jones connectors.
Some buildings including data centers are increasingly designed for 380 V DC power distribution, as a way of improving electrical efficiency. DC power distribution has resulted in the need to standardize a Low Voltage (LV) connector with an integral ground conductor, which is safe for use by untrained personnel. The tendency of DC connectors to spark when disconnected from an inductive load requires the connector's insulating housing to contain the plasma arc, in addition to normal requirements such as preventing accidental finger contact. Examples of such connectors are the Anderson Powerpole Pak connectors and the SDG (Saf-D-Grid) connector, designed with the form factor of an IEC C15 connector.
- Powerpole Connector Families; Anderson Power Products.
- Electric Flight Power Connectors; Sailplane & Electric Modeler Magazine; January 1, 2000.
- Patent US2838739 A; USPTO.
- Patent US3091746 A; USPTO.
- Patent US3259870 A; USPTO.
- Patent US7153152 B1; USPTO.
- Patent WO2004051681 A2; USPTO.
- Patent WO2005059969 A2; USPTO.
- Patent USD604246 S1; USPTO.
- Powerpole Color Code Chart; Anderson Power Products. Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)link ded recommends using Anderson Powerpoles as the standard for power connection of amateur radio equipment.
- Amateur Radio Standard DC Connector; VARA.
- Wiring and Connectors Recommended Practice; NTRAK. Archived February 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Electrical Standards for NTRAK Module Wiring; North Raleigh Model Railroad Club.
- Robot Power Management Using Anderson Powerpole Connectors; First Tech Challenge. Archived April 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Robot Wiring Guide; First Tech Challenge. Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Caravan & Camper Battery Charging". Derek Bester. Retrieved 16 Nov 2013.
- "National Luna". Retrieved 29 Dec 2014.
- One Ham’s DC Power Connector Preference; Mal Eiselman
- The Official Free-mo Standard S4.5
- "Researchers Flip the Switch to Test Energy Saving in Data Centers Using DC Power Directly". Anderson Power Products Inc. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- "Powerpole Pak Connectors". Anderson Power Products Inc. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- "Saf-D-Grid Connector". Anderson Power Products Inc. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anderson Powerpole.|
- Amateur Radio connector standards
- Orange County (California) RACES web page on the Anderson Powerpole, California Governors Office of Emergency Services ("CAL-OES")
- Model Railroad connector standards
- Robotics connector standards
- Robot Wiring Guide, First Tech Challenge
- Robot Power Management Using Anderson Powerpole Connectors, First Tech Challenge