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Illuminating Connections - Device Connectors for the LED lighting industry

Phoenix Contact LED Lighting ConnectionsWith many years of experience developing device connection technology, Phoenix Contact is at the forefront of this LED revolution. Our range of 6A miniature plug connectors with fast connection technology has been designed specifically for LED lighting applications.

In recent years the lighting industry has been going through a renaissance, driven primarily by that little maven of technology known as the LED (Light Emitting Diode). Of course the LED has been around for many years, initially finding its way into simple applications such as home electronic equipment and used to reassure the user that something was working. Today we find the LED in all manner of devices, and not just indicating that something switched on.

The humble LED is in the process of making age old technologies extinct, from the filament lamp to the Catha ray tube. Environmental concerns and high energy costs are helping to propel the LED into a wide range of applications ranging from traffic lights on our streets, to television screens in our homes. In fact the LED is inventing products we did not realise we needed, such as the colour changing spot light for example.

LED products have also become architecturally important in helping a space to look and feel as the designer intended. Mood lighting is no longer the preserve of fancy hotels but a critical part of spaces we work and live in. Environmental pressures are propelling the LED into applications where energy consumption can be dramatically reduced, resulting in enormous long term cost savings for consumers, local authorities and industry.

Within the multitude of applications we see today, the LED light source is expected to operate in a wide range of environments such as outdoors, in retail displays, vehicles etc, and required to perform for many more hours than a conventional filament lamp. These requirements put tough demands on engineers and designers to integrate solutions into functional, reliable and compact products.

The growth in infrastructure and industrial applications for LED lighting is driving the growth in new and improved power and control systems. Applications such as traffic information displays, stadium lighting, retail and commercial lighting for instance, require fast and reliable device connectivity to reduce installation times and maintenance intervals.

The rapid growth seen today is not without its challenges. Component quality and poor overall performance are two key areas of concern. Affordability and reliability are obvious issues given the higher replacement costs when compared with more traditional, but less efficient, filament solutions.  Of course the benefits are also clear. Greatly reduced power consumption together with less frequent maintenance intervals serve to offer better value over the longer term. In some cases, such as the vehicle industry, the LED products are expected to outlive the vehicle itself, and in doing so reduce maintenance costs for the consumer.

Quality and reliability are therefore key market requirements given the higher initial cost and the need for the device to last many more hours than the product it replaced. Phoenix Contact is well placed to service this market when it comes to device connection technology. Phoenix Contact has a long history in designing and manufacturing device connection solutions aimed at specific market needs. Today we have an extensive range of products from terminal blocks to control and automation solutions.

Phoenix Contact has a number of innovative solutions to suite the wide range of applications such as in electronic ballasts and LED drivers. The traditional screw terminal block is commonly used and is available from Phoenix Contact in a number of variants along with more innovative connection methods including push-in, spring cage and IDC technologies.

The technical challenge for the connector has much to do with form as with function. An LED light source requires a reliable power supply and in some cases data communication in order to function. Space is often at a premium and durability is needed to cope with the often harsh environments into which the finished products are expected to operate. The reliability of the device connection is of critical importance given the many more hours of operation expected compared with filament solutions.

Figure 2 PTSM connector terminalsPhoenix Contact has recognised the importance of form and function in the design of our COMBICON HD range of device connectors.  At just 5mm in height, the PTSM connector terminals (figure 2) are designed specifically for low profile applications where space is at a premium and up to 6A current capability is required. They feature: spring cage plug-in technology with release button: strong mechanical bonding method with either solder anchors or double THR pins: supplied in tape-on-real for automatic mounting and suitable for SMT and THR soldering processes. The PTSM plugs and headers are available with up to 10 positions and offer options for vertical or horizontal PCB mounting.

Figure 3 PTQ two position terminal blockFor applications where ease of final assembly are important, the PTQ two position terminal block (figure 3) features IDC conductor connection removing the need for cable pre-treatment. The PTQ features: anti-rotation pins, secure locking mechanism, supplied in tape-on-real for automatic mounting and suitable for the THR soldering process. The PTSM and PTQ compact range comprises a number of different variants to suite most applications.

Figure 4 featuring the PTS series connectorThe PTS series (figure 4) with direct plug-in connection method removes the need for tools during wiring and therefore saves time during installation. This is especially important for manufacturers and installers, where final assemble and field commissioning is an expensive overhead which if rationalised can result in considerable cost savings.

Outdoor LED lighting is now a key consideration for architects and local authorities when planning new developments or improving existing lighting schemes. The return on investment for these schemes is often less than 2 years with the ongoing benefit of lower energy costs and reduced maintenance intervals.  When it comes to power distribution for outdoor lighting, Phoenix Contact offer a range device connectors rated up to IP68. The QPD system (figure 5) features fast connection technology with the QUICKON insulation displacement method. The QPD system is easy to assemble and offers high reliability thanks to tried and tested connection contacts. The rugged housing provides protection up to IP68.

Figure 5 The QPD systemThe rapid growth in the LED lighting industry is set to continue for some time to come and Phoenix Contact is continually developing solutions to meet industry needs.

Phoenix Contact’s position as global market leader in device connections, industrial control & automation is achieved by providing “Inspiring Innovations”. Our principal product ranges include: PCB & plug-in connectors, modular terminal blocks; surge protection; interface and control modules.


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