How Keying Works for Electrical Connectors


Electrical connectors often require a specific orientation. There are female connectors, and there are male connectors. You can typically connect male connectors to female connectors of the same type. To protect against accidental damage, though, many electrical connectors are keyed.

What Is Keying?

Keying is the process of designing electrical connectors so that they are compatible with the appropriate type. A male connector and female connector, for instance, may be keyed so that they fit each other. You’ll only be able to use a keyed male connector with a keyed female connector if they are the same type.

Most forms of keying involve the creation of a hole on one of the electrical connectors and a protruded piece of material on the other electrical connector. The hole and the protruded piece of material feature the same shape. Therefore, you can connect the two electrical connectors together. The protruded piece of material will enter the hole on the opposing electrical connector, thus allowing the two electrical connectors to join together.

Keying receives its namesake from its use of a key-like design. The protruded piece of material is similar to a key. Like a key, the material features a specific shape. And also like a key, it’s designed to fit into a hole of the same shape.

Why Electrical Connectors Are Keyed

Electrical connectors are keyed for several reasons. When keyed, electrical connectors are less likely to sustain damage during installation. Damage may occur if you accidentally use the wrong connector type. You may forcefully push or jam one of the connectors into the other connector, resulting in damage to their pins or other internal components.

Keying protects electrical connectors from damage such as this. Keyed electrical connectors can’t be jammed together. If one connector isn’t compatible with another connector, they won’t match. The protruded piece of material won’t fit into the hole of the other connector.

Keying also makes it easier to install electrical connectors. You can install electrical connectors more quickly and with greater ease if they are keyed. Keying means you can press the connectors against each other to determine whether they are compatible. If a pair of connectors are compatible, they’ll fit together.

In Conclusion

Not all electrical connectors are keyed. Nonetheless, if you inspect pairs of male and female connectors, you may discover that many of them are keyed. Keying ensures that only connectors of the same type will fit together. It protects the electrical connectors from damage while also making them easier to install.

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