Types of Electrical Wire Connectors

Updated April 17, 2017

An electrical wire connector is a device used to join electrical circuits. Electrical wire connectors can be permanent joins or they can be temporary plug and socket arrangements. There are hundreds of such plug and socket standards, but they generally fall into a few basic categories. Electrical connectors can join two pieces of wire or cable, or they can connect a wire or cable to an electrical socket.

Serial Port

Serial ports are electrical wire connectors that are designed to transmit data between computers and peripheral devices. Serial ports are so called because they transmit one bit of data at a time in series. Serial port plugs usually consist of rows of small holes arranged in a zigzag shape. These correspond to sockets in computers that consist of small pins in a similar zigzag shape. There are a variety of types of serial ports.

Modular Connector

Modular connectors are used to transfer data between different computers and are often used to connect computers to networks. Examples of modular connectors include Ethernet jacks and telephone jacks. Modular connectors are made of plastic with a number of thin strips of metal contacts. There is usually a plastic clip that attaches the connector to the plug.

USB port

The USB, or Universal Serial Bus, is a type of electrical connector standard that is used to connect devices to personal computers. USB cables have two types of connectors, type A and type B. A type A male USB connector consists of a rectangular plug within which four flat contact pins are arranged alongside each other. A type B USB connector consists of a smaller, squarer connector within which the contact pins are arranged in a square formation. Type A USB connectors attach to PCs and type B USB connectors attach to devices.

Crocodile Clip

Crocodile clips are simple spring-loaded metal clips that are commonly used by students of electronics and as jump leads for automobiles. Crocodile clips are used primarily for transmitting electrical energy and almost never for the transmission of data.

Power Socket

Power sockets are standardised sources of electrical power in both consumer and industrial environments. Different countries have different power socket standards and hence differently shaped electrical power sockets. Power sockets are generally of simple design with two or three pins in the plug connecting to two or three holes in the socket.

Radio Frequency Connector

Radio frequency connectors are designed to transmit high frequency audiovisual or radio information. Radio frequency connectors are often connected to coaxial cable, which is cable that contains a central conducting line surrounded by a conducting cylinder. The conducting cylinder shields the central line from electromagnetic interference. The socket of a radio frequency connector consists of a circular outer piece and a central bayonet.

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About the Author

Thomas James has been writing professionally since 2008. His work has appeared on the science-fiction blog Futurismic. He writes about technology, economics, management, science fiction, politics and philosophy. James graduated from Trinity Catholic School and holds A-levels in physics, maths, chemistry and an AS-level in English language.