Although the simplest of thermocouples and resistance thermometer detectors end in bare wires - as found in many laboratory and industrial/research applications, for example - there are many other applications where a connector is usually desirable to make life easier.
Miniature and standard thermocouple connectors are available for use with all common thermocouple conductor (extension or compensating cable) combinations, and for use with copper conductors in applications involving resistance thermometers, for example. For thermocouple applications, thermocouple grade alloys are incorporated in the contact parts of the connector for the reasons discussed. This avoids the generation of unwanted emfs if the connector is not held at uniform temperature.
The device is usually harnessed to connect the thermocouple assembly to extension or compensating cables, and thus on to the reference junction and the instrumentation concerned. The arrangement allows for rapid fitting or exchange of sensors without sacrificing thermocouple conductor uniformity. Plug and socket bodies are normally engineered so that their installation can be made simply and securely, usually with designed-in locking mechanisms. Plugs and sockets are polarised by size and are usually marked for negative and positive polarity. Although there is no standard as such, connectors are generally pin compatible with devices from several manufacturers.
In general, although connector bodies for thermocouples are colour coded in accordance with the international thermocouple standards (BS EN 60584.1), bodies of the higher temperature rated devices may be coloured brown irrespective of their thermocouple code. Bodies are then marked with their international thermocouple code letter only.
Accessories include connector panels (standard and miniature), for stacking of sockets in multiple thermocouple applications, and barrier terminal strips. The latter have lugs marked to identify both alloy and polarity, and are available for most of the common standard types of thermocouple as well as copper wires for resistance thermometers.
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This information is an extract from TC's outstanding FREE guide to Themocouple and Resistance Thermometry.