I Ditched PowerPole Connectors

A “Golden Rule” of Ham radio operations is the premise that all electrical connections are made with PowerPole (PP) connectors. This makes all our equipment so-called “interoperable”.

It is considered blaphemous to question their use in the Ham culture. Well, I gotta tell ya’ll, I have ditched the use of PP’s.

Just to be clear. I have no beef with PowerWerx, the leading retailer in the PP universe. I have ordered lots of stuff from them over the years. Their customer service, packaging, shipping, and product quality is first class. They are a great company.

There are 6 reasons I no longer use them:

    1. You must be properly trained on how to wire them up.
    2. Getting consistent, and robust connections is challenging.
    3. They are not weather-resistant.
    4. They get loose/sloppy after lots of use.
    5.  The market is overrun with cheap Chinese knock-offs that are horrible.
    6.  They are way too expensive.

    • You must be properly trained on how to wire them up.

I have built many dozens of PP connectors over the years. I read the instructions, watched lots of YouTube videos, and even had Elmer’s show me how to do it right.  Requiring this level of ‘training’ to get a ‘simple’ connector to work is self-defeating.

    • Getting consistent, and robust connections is challenging.

Every connector I built seemed to have its own ‘personality’.  Sometimes, the connector slid right in to the case and the “magic click” occurred without issue. Other times, the connector refused to seat properly. Using a needle nose, or the pusher tool would help. Other times, it was impossible to get the ‘click’. This has always bothered me.

Even worse, I have had several PP connector failures in the field, due to the connectors coming loose, and the wire sliding to the rear of the connector when mated with another connector.  You PP evangelists will tell me, “That can only happen if you did not build the connector properly.”

This is exactly my point. If I have to guess/hope/pray that my connector is built properly, I do not want to play.

    • They are not weather resistant.

This is not a big problem for me in sunny Southern CA, but I am sure it is in other parts of the country. When my gear is connected to my battery box, the PP connectors are sticking straight up in the air. This exposes the back end of the connector to rain/hail/sleet, etc. without any protection.

    • They get loose/sloppy after lots of use.

I have found after lots of use, PP connectors tend to get sloppy/loose. PP fan boys will tell me I am imagining this – but it is true.

    • The market is overrun with cheap Chinese knock-offs that are horrible.

You might ask, “So what? This is a problem with lots of Ham gear.” I agree. But the big problem here is related to issue #6 – price. Due to the cost burden of OEM PP’s, many of us succumb to the Amazon deals of knock-offs. I sure did.

I learned from very painful experience, the knock-offs look the same, but they are total crap. The connectors, and more importantly, the crimping pliers, DO NOT create usable connectors. This is a huge trap for new Hams or those who are on tight budgets and want to follow the Golden Rule.

I shudder to think how many lousy knock-off PP connectors are in use around the world. Failure is near to all.

    • They are way too expensive.

Of all the complaints I have about PP connectors, this is the one that drives me crazy. They are ridiculously expensive.

First off is the crimping pliers. $44 USD. This is required, and you are crazy if you try to use any other crimper. So the initial entry fee is 50 bucks.

After you have the crimper, plan on spending about $1 per connector! How did I come up with this? Do the math.

PowerWerx sells a 150 Piece Assorted set of connectors for $49.99 USD, plus tax and shipping.  What you really get is enough parts to make 60 total connectors (20 each of 15/30/45A). This comes out to 83 cents per connector – if you do not wreck any during assembly. Add in the cost of tax and shipping, and you are near $1 per connector.

It gets worse. If you order the 301 piece set for $99.99 plus tax and shipping, the cost per connector comes to… 83 cents per connector!  Buying in bulk saves you nothing.

After my miserable, total failure, knock-off experience, I decided to go with with the OEM stuff to recover from my indescretion. I ordered the 301 piece set and a crimping pliers. With tax and shipping, it cost me $173.01.

Am I the only one with sticker shock here? Folks, these are small plastic connectors. How in the world can a young Ham or somebody on a really tight budget afford these? I understand all about patents and intellectual property, but $1 per connector? Are you kidding me?

I apologize for the long rant here. But I do believe the Ham community needs to rethink the obsession with the Golde Rule of PP connectors, for all the reasons stated above.

What do I suggest as a replacement? Stay tuned for my next Blog entry. I will show you what I am using instead.




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