Whether or not a ham thinks they are the best solution, Anderson PowerPoles are ubiquitous in the contemporary ham radio shack, unless the shack owner has made efforts to banish them.
I’ve mixed feelings on how the ham community has adopted the PowerPole, or should I say how we’ve adopted a small subset of the PowerPole family.
Not many have actually read up on PowerPoles, and here is a link to the manufacturer’s reference document:
As you can see there is a lot more to PowerPoles than just Red/Black as most hams think. Several sizes, several contact ratings, choice of contact plating, high/low retention versions, special safety versions, and a keyed grounding version.
Some takeaways from the document:
- There are several retention strengths, high, low (standard) and a reduced PCB-board contact.
- Silver plating works great for high disconnect cycle, but tin plated is standard and avoids corrosion better.
- For a given body size the actual PowerPole-to-PowerPole contact area is always the same and exceeds the overall load rating.
- Contacts are power rated, but this is to do with the connection-to-the-wire aspect. Big wire with bog wire connection means big ratings.
- There are lots of colors, spacers, blind-insert and other accessories for PowerPoles.
- There are bigger PowerPoles for higher ratings.
- PowerPoles are not really cold weather contacts (expect that is a limitation of the plastic).
- Premade blocks are ultrasonically welded.
- Anderson recommends you lubricate PowerPoles (you have been doing that, right?)
- True Anderson product is marked with a “A” and in some cased other markings.
Not in the document are other observations:
- Non-Anderson clones are not all created equal.
- Mixing Anderson with clones can increase your troubles.
- Mixing generic contacts in Anderson bodies (or the reverse) can give you troubles.
- As Hams we have underused the available ground and other accessories available.
- We also haven’t considered if the PowerPole’s low de-mating forces are appropriate for some of our specific needs.