A project log for DC Microgrid

Connecting different DC energy sources and loads together to share the fun

tiefpunkttiefpunkt 01/13/2020 at 22:360 Comments

The microgrid is supposed to consist of many components and should have a number of devices connected to it. So one of the obvious questions is: how do we connect those components together? And one very obvious part of that questions refers to the type of plugs we use to do so.

There are a number of different connectors out there that are used for DC power, for different voltages and purposes. Let's take a look at some and their advantages and disadvantages.

There's also a list on wikipedia on DC connectors, which has some of the connectors that I mentioned here.

Now where does this leave us? Well nowhere really. So far, we haven't found the ideal connector, especially for higher grid voltages such as 48V. The most common ones like DC barrel plugs or the car lighter plugs are great if we want to support connecting all kinds of DC consuming devices, but they are not ideal for connecting different components of the grid together.

For the consume01 unit, we chose car lighter plugs for connecting devices, because that's what most devices on hand are using. For the grid side, we went with a Speakon socket, because of the locking mechanism (and because that's what we had on hand). Ideally, we would've preferred a SELV socket, but they are hard to come by. Another good alternative might have been Powerpole.

So we'll be using Speakon for most of our grid connections for now, because that's a sweetspot of features, availability and price, but we'll keep an eye out for better alternatives.

Updates: Picture & link for the SELV connector, and addition of the ISO4165 plug