Electrical connector system
Publication Date: 2010-Apr-23
The IP.com Prior Art Database
Michael GUNREBEN: INVENTOR [+3]
The present invention relates to an electrical connector system. The electrical connector system comprises a first connector (20) to be mated to a corresponding counter connector (30) and it is further adapted to be connected to a signal circuit for activating an electrical power source upon switching. As a safety feature, the connector system further comprises a connector position assurance (CPA) member (10) assigned to the first connector (20), which is movable, whereby an end position is not reachable if the first connector is incorrectly mated to the counter connector. The CPA member is adapted to interact with the signal circuit if placed in said end position so that it activates of the electrical power source.
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Electrical connector system
1. Field of the invention
The present invention relates to electrical connector systems with addi- tional features to improve the safety of the connection process, in particu- lar with regard to electrical arcing.
2. Technical background
In high power applications it is often necessary to switch off the electrical power source before two connectors which connect the power lines are mated or unmated. Indeed, it is safer not to leave power terminals supplied by high power while the connectors are unmated and consequently while the terminals may be exposed. It is also useful to prevent possible arcing when the connectors are close to each other but not yet fully mated as it in- evitably occurs during mating and unmating. Such arcing may be danger- ous for persons connecting or disconnecting the power line and it may ad- ditionally damage the connectors. Further, a high voltage peak which may be induced by the arcing can damage electrical devices which are con- nected to the power system. Therefore, commonly the high power has to be turned off manually before e.g. working on the high power system. This causes danger because the manual turning off can easily be forgotten, if e.g. untrained personal is involved or in the case of an accident where con- nections might have to be open rapidly. Therefore, solutions have been de- veloped in the art providing ways for automatic turning off the power sup- ply in the case that the power connectors are e.g. only in a pre-mated posi- tion.
An example of such a solution is described in US 5,751,135. This docu- ment proposes a charging connector device for electrical vehicles compris-
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ing a security mechanism to prevent dangerous arcing during the connec- tion of the charging device and the power plug of the vehicle. First, when the charging device and the power plug are not yet fully mounted, a secu- rity lever presses a micro switch which turns off the main electrical power supply. Then, when the two members are correctly mated, the security lever releases the micro switch and the power is turned on. The same mechanism turns off the power during disconnecting the charging device and the power plug.
Further, connector position assurance (CPA) members are known in the art, to assure the correct mechanical coupling of two connectors with each other. Such members typically can have one or more of the following func- tions. For one they provide a mechanical secondary locking system for the connectors, where typically the CPA member can only be moved in the locking position when the electrical connectors are completely mated. In this locking position, the two connectors are mechanically locked together. Secondly, the CPA member serves as a visual checking means for the cor- rect mounting. For this purpose, the CPA member is constructed so that it can be visually distinguished if the CPA member is moved fully into said locking positi...