What Are Ring Terminals and How Do They Work?

Ring terminalsWhen shopping for aerospace parts, you may come across ring terminals. Ring terminals aren’t restricted to the aerospace industry; you can find them in dozens of other industries. Nonetheless, most airplanes are manufactured with ring terminals. They are an important part of an airplane’s electrical system. What are ring terminals exactly, and how do they work?

What Are Ring Terminals?

Ring terminals are connectors for electrical cables. They are designed to connect the end of an electrical cable to a circuit point.

Airplanes have dozens of electrical components, all of which require power. To hardwire an electrical component, a ring terminal may be used. An electrical cable may plug directly into the back of an electrical component on one end and a circuit point on the other end. To connect the electrical cable to the circuit point, a ring terminal may be used.

Of course, there are other types of connectors available for electrical cables. While they are all used to connect the end of an electrical cable to a circuit point, ring terminals have a unique design that distinguishes them from the rest. They are known as “ring terminals” because they feature a circular ring at the end.

How Ring Terminals Work

As shown in the photo above, ring terminals feature a simple design. They have a main body that’s comprised of an inner tube of conductive metal and an outer layer of non-conductive shielding (such as plastic). On one side of the body is a ring prong made of a similar type of conductive metal as the inner tube.

How do ring terminals work exactly? All ring terminals are used in conjunction with an electrical cable. The exposed end of an electrical cable is inserted into the tube of a ring terminal, after which it’s crimped or soldered. Crimping will essentially force the inner tube to collapse so that the electrical cable remains in place. Soldering, on the other hand, will join the electrical cable to the inner tube by using heat and a filler material.

Once the electrical cable has been crimped or soldered, the ring terminal is placed on the circuit point. Ring terminals are typically connected to circuit points with a screw. The screw is first removed from the ring point. The ring terminal is then positioned over the circuit point. Finally, the screw is inserted back into the circuit point while going through the center of the terminal’s ring prong.

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