Solenoids, relays, and contactors are all electro-mechanical switches, but there are some critical differences that make each suitable for different applications. In this article, we will explain how each of these devices work and discuss some key selection considerations.
Controlling parasitic loads, aka battery drain, and properly distributing electrical power is crucial to keeping vehicles working. However, this requires balancing the needs of the battery against those of the electrical system.
The addition of electrical loads such as lights, entertainment systems, communications equipment and other accessories, continue to draw power when the engine is off. For these applications, having a multiple battery system is essential, but simply being wired into the vehicle’s electrical system can allow auxiliary batteries to drain power from the main battery, inhibiting engine starting and other essential functions.
This is where battery isolators and separators come into play. But despite seeming very similar, their jobs are very different.
Whether they're toggles or rockers, push-button or disconnect, switches are found in every 12-volt electrical system, doing everything from turning on lights to moderating critical systems. To understand the basics of electrical switches, you must first understand the circuitry inside, then be able to discern the differences between different types of switches. Here's a crash course.
When it comes to lighting patterns for vehicle work lights, we often ask customers if they prioritize breadth or depth and are sometimes met with confusion. We find that some work vehicle customers are unsure whether spotlights or floodlights will best suit their operators' needs. While these two types of lighting patterns can be confused, it's important for upfitters to understand the differences in their lighting output and what the best applications are for each. So what is the difference, and where and when should they be installed and used?
Splice connectors, most commonly known as butt connectors, but also butt splices and crimp connectors, are a fundamentally important component in 12-volt electrical systems. Here are some basics you'll need to know about them.
Heat shrink is one of the most useful products in many low voltage applications. It repairs insulation, it offers protection against abrasion and moisture intrusion for wires, it provides needed support and strain relief and generally it allows for more design flexibility and capability for any automotive electrical use. But picking heat shrink can be a difficult task if you're not familiar with it. How do you select the right heat shrink for the job?
While circuit breakers are becoming more prominent in 12-volt system design, the fuse remains a common, and useful, technology. If you're not up on your fuses, here's an overview of where they fit into automotive circuit protection.
Proper crimping is paramount, but getting the right crimp requires the right tool. While this may sound simple enough, there are several considerations when selecting from the myriad of crimping tools on the market-- here are a few of the most important:
Modern machines of all types are setting aside fuses in favor of circuit breakers. Circuit breakers have quite a few virtues; they're more durable, they're easier to reset and replace, and they can be ordered in types that fit in where most fuses were used on vehicles. Still, it's important to know the different circuit breaker types and their uses.
Any purchasing department is familiar with the term "solid state." Solid state electronics and circuits are fairly common in automotive electrical, but how well do you understand how this technology works, as well as the benefits and drawbacks? So let's take a look at solid state components, and what they mean for vehicles and engineering.