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Tech Tips - A Crash Course on Electrical Connectors

Today, more than ever, there is a need for a standardized power port on motorcycles. A bidirectional port (one that can deliver current, as well as take charging current) is necessary to take full advantage of new "appliance" products such as battery chargers, heated vests, cellular phones, portable music players, radar detectors, GPS units, camcorders, heated grip wraps, and so on. Installing a port that has the environmental and current-carrying capacity to power all of these useful appliances is important for your ultimate enjoyment.

These highly integrated Powerlet products allow quick and simple installation of a power socket on your motorcycle. They allow convenient one-handed operation for uses like plugging in a heated vest. They look cool and will not scratch the paint like a dangling SAE (Battery Tender) cord.

Several types of accessory connectors are in common use on motorcycles:

SAE connectors have been in use for several years on devices such as Battery Tender chargers, and some models of electric vests. They offer a reliable connection but are not weather resistant and are best suited for use in protected locations.

Cigarette connectors have gained wide use because every car has a cigarette lighter and, owing to that, many automotive accessories were sold with cigarette-type connectors. There is no standard for cigarette connector dimensions—there are two different sizes in common use—and they often fit poorly and make unreliable connections. They are also not weather-resistant.

Powerlet connectors (also known as BMW-style connectors) have rapidly gained popularity over the past few years because they are built to standard dimensions, they are rugged, they make reliable connections, and some types are made with weather-resistant covers and protective boots. A proposal has been made for this connector family to become the standard for motorcycle use. For years BMW has been using the Powerlet plug and socket format. Recently, Ducati and Triumph started using this socket on some of their sport touring bikes. If you are adding a new power port to your motorcycle, this is the type you should probably choose.