When you connect bare wires to equipment, they become loose and curly and rust over time. Electrical equipment needs safe and secure connections to keep the equipment functional. Banana plugs are an easy solution to form a solid connection. How do they work? This article will discuss the banana plug cable assembly in detail.
Table of Contents
What are banana plugs?
Banana plugs are cylindrical connectors that you use for electrical wiring. It got its name from the fruit banana because of a protruding prong that bulges out from the center. This protrusion has a spring-mounted fin which can expand once you insert it into the equipment socket. Thus, it results in a firm and almost permanent hold. You can also call them 4mm connectors; the 4mm refers to its standard diameter.
Uses of banana plugs
With banana plugs, you can safely, easily, and quickly connect or disconnect electrical wiring to equipment through matching banana sockets. If you do not use a banana plug, you may need to attach and reattach the bare wires on equipment, resulting in short circuits and equipment overload.
You can use banana plugs in a wide range of audio equipment, such as:
- Sound systems and speakers (wired)
- Audio wires and cables
- Hi-Fi receivers
- Aux jacks for standard headphone connections
- TV aerials
- and testing equipment from laboratories.
Gold plated banana plugs
Types of banana plugs
The screw type is the standard banana plugs, and there are different designs to hold wiring.
Open screw banana plugs
In open screw banana plugs, there is a lug connector or a protruding bolt where you can attach the length of insulated equipment wire. You can do this through crimping, soldering, or an easy-to-use built-in screw.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Closed screw banana plugs
In these types, you can hold the wire in place through a metallic cylinder into which you insert the wire from the rear end. Following this, you can screw an upper cylinder with a prong on its top.
Open screw banana plugs vs. Closed screw banana plugs.
The similarity lies in the cable termination in both types. There is a rear section that you can remove to allow the cable entry and then clamp it internally.
The main difference is that in the closed screw types, there is an enclosed chamber; on the other hand, in the open screw, there is a side entry point providing a versatile solution along with an enclosed chamber.
Open screw banana plugs
Closed screw banana plug
Additional Features of Banana Plug Connector
The banana plug comes in different varieties.
Locking banana plugs
In these plugs, there is a mechanism through which you can expand the prong more than the typical spring-mounted fin once it inserts into the socket. As a result, it forms a stronger bond.
Gold banana plugs
These plugs provide a high electrical conductivity level and are very attractive. It has a gold plating that combines with other conductive metals like brass.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Banana plugs with covers
You can also call them shrouds. These covers are tube-like structures that surround the prong to protect them. These covers automatically retract once the prong inserts into the socket. Some sockets also have been shrouded. Generally, these plug covers are more used in high voltage equipment such as test laboratories.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Double banana plugs
As the name clears, these plugs have two in one housing, which may feature a different cable connector on another side. As a result, it helps form a sturdy connection between two other audio cables.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Angled banana plugs
These special banana plugs have a pin at a 90-degree angle to the cable. With this, you can insert the cable in the top-down position, giving a more robust and more secure connection than the side insertion. The side connections often become loose due to wire stress or accidental tugs. Typically, you will find them with a multimeter or other electrical test equipment.
Different types of banana plugs
Banana Plugs Genders
You will find electrical connectors in female (i.e., enclosing) or male (inserting) designs. The banana plugs are male connector types that you can insert into their female counterparts, i.e., banana sockets or jacks.
The presence of insulation affects the compatibility between banana plugs and banana sockets. When insulation is there, the sheathed male plugs will not fit appropriately into unsheathed female banana sockets. Unsheathed banana plugs may fit into both sheathed or unsheathed sockets. The speaker plugs have uninsulated endings.
Angled banana plugs
Banana plugs sizes
Banana plugs can have pins that vary in size and diameter. However, you will commonly find metal pins 4mm in diameter or 5/32 inch as the standard size. Other than this, there are miniature plugs of 2mm in diameter. Also, there is a 3mm plug which you can refer to as a mini banana plug or small banana plug.
The standard length of the banana plugs is 20mm or 3/4inch; however, some shorter sizes are also prevalent. Especially in the US, banana plugs of length 15mm or 5/8inch are more common. Sometimes, people refer to them as short banana plugs, and you get a discreet connection with these plugs. Other than these, there are 25mm or 11mm plugs. However, they are less frequently seen.
Banana cables for the electrical laboratory
Do I need Banana Plugs for my Speakers?
Banana plugs offer several benefits, but connecting the amplifier to your speakers is not essential. However, with plugs, you can benefit a lot.
- Using banana plugs will keep your speaker wires tidy and prevent them from damaging.
- The two ends of the speaker do not mix when you use banana plugs.
- Also, with banana plugs, you can easily connect or disconnect your speaker wires. It is tough when you use the bare wire of the speaker to connect with the amplifier. Ensure the wires are exposed, and you must place them in a grip to ensure their contact with the metal surface. However, when you use banana plugs, you only need to connect the plug to the corresponding port.
- An additional advantage, though not very prominent, is that they improve the sound quality.
Speaker wiring without plugs
How to Install Banana Plugs on a Speaker Cable?
Follow the steps for a successful banana plug cable assembly.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Preparation
Most of the audio systems are inside any entertainment unit. Thus, you cannot expect too much light in that area. Therefore, please carry a compact torch with you before the installation begins.
Besides this, you need to take a stripper to strip off the insulation from the wire to insert inside the connector. You can also use a blade or a scissor if a stripper is unavailable. However, make sure that you do not cut the inner strands.
Don’t forget a screwdriver (according to the banana connectors type) so that you can tighten the fasteners that lock the screw to make a secure connection.
Next, you need not follow any rules for the tracer wire. However, we suggest you maintain consistency with the color to which the tracer wire goes through your installation, which will help you wire your speakers correctly.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Select the correct banana plugs
It would help if you chose the plugs with the right size, quality, angle, and so on.
- Banana plugs come with different measurements based on the thickness of the speaker cable. You can find speaker wires in different gauges. However, the common gauges of wires that you use for connecting speakers to a receiver or an amplifier are between 12-16 gauges, and that’s what you pick with banana plugs too.
- The angle of approach of the speaker cable to the speaker terminals is also critical. In general, you can use a banana plug having a rear entry point; however, you may also need to pick a side entry point.
- Banana plugs are available in different metals and alloy options. Some of them come with 24K gold plating, which ensures that the connection will be more durable and will not rust over time.
- Other than these main factors, you may also look for manufacturing materials and general artistry.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Installing banana plugs:
Closed and open screw banana plugs have rear entry points, so both installation processes are the same. However, the open screw banana plug also has an entry point from the sides, and the installation differs slightly.
Installing closed and open screw types through the back entry point:
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Method 1:
- First, strip the required length of the speaker wire from every conductor.
- Second, fold the cable over the halfway point so that strands double to fix onto the plug.
- Now, unscrew the banana plug’s top section from the lower side.
- Next, insert the speaker’s cable into the bottommost section on the rear side until all stripped cable protrudes.
- Now, form a tiny ball shaped from all exposed strands so that the plug clamp effectively.
- Now, screw back the top part, so it stands for the speaker’s cable you made in the last step.
- Finally, insert plugs into the connectors on the amplifier or the speaker.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Method 2:
- First, strip the required length of wire (approx. 30mm)
- Now, remove the upper section of the plug from the lower side.
- Now, insert the speaker’s cable from the rear bottom until you notice the cable of the speaker cable protruding out up to 3-5mm.
- Next, expand the wire and fold it around the bottom piece’s circumference.
- Put back the screw piece of the top so that it works as a stand for the speaker’s cable.
- Finally, insert the banana plug into the connectors of the amplifier or the speaker.
Note: for cables under 12 American Wire Gauge, you must use method 1 to terminate securely.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: The side entry point is for open screw type only.
- First, strip the required length of the wire (approx. 12mm)
- Now, twist the wire strand of the cable to make them tight.
- Now, make an L-shaped from the twisted wire at around ⅓ of the bare wire.
- Now, remove the top part about half of the way.
- Next, insert the cable into the entry point towards the sides. Make sure that the L-shape points toward the bottommost section.
- Put the top piece back to work as a clamp for the cable prepared in the last step.
- Finally, put banana plugs into the binding posts on the amplifiers or the speaker.
Note: if you use this entry point, you can also use the back entry point to connect other banana plugs for bi-wiring.
Banana Plug Cable Assembly: Installing screw-locking banana plugs
- First, strip the required amount of wire (approx. 12mm) from each conductor.
- Remove the banana plug’s outer section to reveal the inner chamber.
- Now, make the screw locking fasteners on each plug loose.
- Next, insert the speaker’s cable into the plug while applying minimal force until the wire touches the chamber’s end.
- Now, tighten the fasteners.
- Conceal the inner chamber by placing the outer section again
- Finally, insert the plugs into the binding posts.
Although banana plugs are not necessary for your audio system, they have a wide application. Before you pick a plug for your use, make sure that you choose the right size and type. You can get professionals to help from Cloom. We are a leading manufacturer of wiring harnesses and cable assemblies.