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Connecting Batteries

Having moved to using LiFe batteries for lightweight portable power, I needed to make them compatible with the PowerPole connectors most of my equipment uses.

The 4200 batteries come with 5.5mm bullet connectors, so the easy way was to buy a bullet to banana plug cable from the same supplier as the battery and replace the banana plugs with PowerPoles. These cables have very flexible insulation, so are great when in use.

I noticed that an insulation gap appeared where the 5.5mm bullet connectors joined together, so to keep things safe and stop the connectors coming apart inadvertently, I covered the join with heat shrink tube and  I’ll keep an eye on it.

bulletcon

An alternative is to connect the PowerPoles directly to the battery.

plug1

You need to be very careful not to short the battery cables while doing this, and do take off any metal rings on your hands, as if you short via a ring you may lose the finger.

fingerringburn

I use 30A PowerPole inserts and you may find that the battery conductor is too big to fit. As I am not needing more than 30A, I just trim the cable strands off until they fit snugly, I also put a bit of thin heat shrink from the cable to the crimp part of the PowerPole.

You might be wondering where the fuses are, and they will be in the circuit which is connected to the battery. Putting them on each battery lead would have been clunky, and if reasonable care is taken, its unlikely that there will be a short across the PowerPoles on the battery.

Power Distribution

When building Go Boxes, I used to find connecting together the power distribution cables for the equipment a hassle, until I found these Wago connectors in an electrical distributor. They are widely used in the UK for house lighting wires and come in 2,3 and 5 conductor capacity.

As they are quite small, I bought a box of 5 conductor units with the view that even if I only need 2 or 3 for some applications, they don’t use up much space, and if I need more connections than I thought, they are available.

power1

The connectors are rated at 32 Amps and capable of taking up to 4mm square cable, you just lift the lever and slide in a stripped cable, then push it down for a secure connection. Use one for +ve and another for -ve & job done. A decent length of the insulation slides into the connector so shorting to the metal panel below is not an issue.

The main picture shows a project I’m just getting started on with the first wires connected, and the pic below gives the part details.

Power2

I also use a lot of this Acrylic foam tape which is very sticky, holds well and doesn’t lose its grip with time.  While described as foam, the material is more a clear plastic somewhat stretchy gel, a couple of mm thick with adhesive either side. This helps if the surfaces are not completely smooth/parallel.

Its perfect for sticking these Wago connectors down, and for mounting other lightweight parts.

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