While the cost and benefits of solar power can and have been debated, there’s one point that cannot be debated: the solar energy sector continues to grow.
The solar energy sector has grown 68% over the last decade, and the cost of solar infrastructure and installations have fallen 70% since 2006. On average, a solar panel system pays for itself within eight years. Critics of solar power point to huge government subsidies and say the industry might not survive without them. Regardless of the reason why, solar and wind energy made up 47% of new electric capacity in 2017, and the renewables sector has grown steadily since the mid-2000s.
Connectors In Solar Energy Equipment
Samtec is a connector supplier to this growing solar energy market. The most common applications for Samtec interconnects in solar power equipment are inverters, solar trackers, power systems, and monitoring and control. Most of the connectors used in these applications are:
- two-piece board-to-board
- cable-to-board and sealed circular cable assemblies
- larger pitch (“larger” by Samtec’s standards, meaning mostly 2.54, 2.00 and 5.08 mm centerline)
- used for both signal and power, or a combo connector of both
- often with rugged design options
Rugged design options include:
- latching systems for two-piece board-to-board and cable-to-board systems
- weld tabs and clips to increase the mechanical strength of the connector to the board
- screw downs
- heavy gold plating options
- polarization and alignment
- contact systems with extra wipe distance and redundant points of contact for added reliability
- and pin spacings to achieve specific creepage and clearance requirements
(Please note I’ve included a list of several popular product series that fit the above criteria at the end of this blog.)
Severe Environment, Extended Life
And I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you Severe Environment and Extended Life Products. These products are subjected to brutal tests to ensure they will function in the harshest surroundings.
Severe Environment Testing takes Samtec’s design qualification testing that is performed on all product series before release to production, and ratchets it up a notch. SET takes several tests and increases the requirements of them or implements them to simulate a test that is closer to MIL SPEC testing than our standard qualification testing. These tests were chosen to show that Samtec’s connectors can be used in extreme environments with confidence.
Samtec Extended Life Products (ELP) are popular Samtec interconnects that are tested to much higher mating cycles, and they pass a nasty 10 year Mixed Flowing Gas (MFG) test. ELP is for connector applications that may be exposed to harsh environments, or simply require many cycles.
Here’s a list of Samtec product series that can be used in solar energy equipment. Please note this is not a comprehensive list, but it will give you an idea of the types of products available. If you want to learn more about any of these products, or if you want to talk to somebody about a connector system for your application, please contact us.
- 2.54 mm pitch terminal strips, through-hole: TSW
- 2.54 mm pitch terminal strips, SMT: TSM
- 2.54 mm pitch dual body stacker: ZW
- 2.54 mm pitch socket strips, through-hole: SSW
- 2.54 mm pitch socket strips, SMT: SSM
- 2.00 mm pitch terminal strips, through-hole & SMT: TMMH
- 2.00 mm pitch socket strips, through-hole: SQW
- 2.00 mm pitch dual body stacker: TW
- 1.27 mm pitch, micro rugged terminal strip: TFM
- 1.27 mm pitch, micro rugged socket strip: SFM
- Isolated terminal power header: IPBT
- Isolated contact power socket: IPBS
- Ultra-micro power strips: UMPT/UMPS
- 30 A dual leaf socket: MPS
- 30 A socket – power/signal combo: MPSC
- 30 A dual blade header: MPT
- 30 A terminal – power/signal combo: MPTC
- EXTreme Ten60Power: ET60T, ET60S
- Sealed, sealed I/O: here’s a listing
- Discrete wire cable systems: here’s a listing
Other Links That May Be Of Interest:
- Severe Environment Testing For Connectors
- A Deep Dive Into Severe Environment Testing
- A Deep Dive Into Severe Environment Testing, Part 2
- Severe Environment Testing Finds A Home