This is the third in a six-part series as we take an in-depth look at how NiobiCONN™ performs in various applications and can provide solutions no other connector can.
From cellular networks and SCADA systems to lighting and surveillance equipment, an outdoor infrastructure is only as reliable as its power, data and signal cabling. As such, these infrastructures largely depend on rugged cables and connectors. Rugged connectors have long been used in outdoor environments to combat extreme elements. However, none compare to the latest connector technology that utilizes niobium contacts to offer unprecedented reliability. Before looking at this revolutionary technology, let’s consider the most concerning issues related to outdoor electrical systems and equipment.
Exposure To Precipitation
Snow, sleet and ice can accumulate on electrical cables, putting significant stress on junction points. High winds further add to the tension at termination points. Meanwhile, pelting rain can corrode exposed metal parts or seep through cracks, frays or rips in a cable’s protective outer layer. For outdoor infrastructure near or submerged in the ocean, saltwater and seaspray form salt deposits on electrical parts, accelerating the rate of corrosion.
Extreme Temperature Cycling
In extremely cold conditions, electrical conductors will shrink in length. In high heat, conductors will expand. To prevent tension or sagging, cable assemblies are designed for thermal expansion. However, high and low temps impact more than just tensile strength and flexibility. Temperature cycling can affect the resistance and, ultimately, the strength of an assembly’s power or data signal. Excessive temperature cycling can also reduce the elasticity of O-ring seals and other protective components designed to keep water, dust and debris out.
If a cable assembly’s protective outer shell or overmolding is not UV resistant, radiation can change the molecular structure of elastomers (such as neoprene, rubber, and PVC) commonly used to seal and protect vulnerabilities in the assembly, such as connector sites. Eventually, deterioration will lead to surface cracks, which can expose internal electrical components, increasing the risk of electric shock (if wires are exposed) and cable failure.
Niobium Connectors For Outdoor Infrastructure
iCONN’s patented NiobiCONN™ connectors solve many of the age-old challenges common in outdoor infrastructures. The secret to their connector’s unprecedented resilience is its niobium contacts, which self insulate themselves when energized and exposed to water. This happens instantaneously and creates a protective film/ barrier between contacts and outdoor elements, making niobium connectors waterproof (not just water-resistant) and virtually impervious to corrosion. In other words, niobium connectors allow the safe passage of electricity in wet or dry conditions. In fact, these connectors can be mated and unmated while completely submerged underwater without the need for O-rings and seals or oil bladders.
The advantages of NiobiCONN connectors extend far beyond physical properties. Niobium connectors are Power over Ethernet (PoE) capable, requiring only one cable to transfer power and data to a device, such as an IP camera or wireless access point. PoE-capable infrastructure supports high-definition video streaming and allows technicians to restart connected devices remotely in the event of a disruption. Furthermore, by reducing the number of cables required in an outdoor electrical system or network, technicians can also reduce the number of vulnerabilities and maintenance imposed on the infrastructure. Add in niobium’s higher-than-average temperature stability and excellent resistance to shock and vibration, and you have the ultimate extreme environment connector.
Learn more about iCONN Systems’ patented niobium technology.