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Seeking advice to connect wires to power source other than twisting wires together

Trized

Dec 5, 2021
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Hello,

I am very amateur when it comes to electronics and am looking for a recommendation of electronic equipment that would best fit what I'm making as I'm having a very hard time figuring it out myself. I'm planning to make a thermal mass heater with PTC heating elements that run off 12v DC energy and each element has a positive and negative wire. Anyways I am planning to put a few of these in the walls of basically a cement 5 gallon bucket filled with sand with the wires sticking out from the cement walls to connect them to a power source hopefully individually. I am unsure of how to connect them to a power source. As of now my experience has been twisting the metal of the cables together and wishing I knew of a better way. I am hoping to have something connected to the cables of the PTC element, that connects/disconnects easily to some type of junction that then connects to the power source(kind of like a power outlet strip). My experience of a breadboard with an arduino makes me wish of a breadbox type contraption that would accept a proper connection to the elements but unlike the breadbox I would like something better than just sticking the bare wire into it. I want to be able to connect/disconnect the elements intermittently to control the heat of the contraption as well as the energy usage I'm hoping to be able to connect 10 or more of the elements if I wanted to. If it helps the elements start at 50 watts then level out to 10 watts as they level out to a certain heat. And to be even more specific about the application, the elements will be connected to a 5.5x2.5mm male plug that goes into my "solar generator" that can be powered by solar as well as standard 110 outlets.

Thank you for your time!

This is the PTC element: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VBDT8NL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This is the wire I'm currently using:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07584SQX5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

ivak245

Jun 11, 2021
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Each of your elements will draw a little over 4 amps if supplied with 12 volts. Why not just have a bank of switches which can be used to turn on as many elements as required. You could get real temperature control by using a PID controller (available cheaply on Ebay, etc,), you just have to find a spot to put the sensor (K type thermocouple), and away you go. If you want to use a plug/socket arrangement, there are plenty of types which can handle the current, and as they are just going to heating elements, don't have to be polarized.
 

Trized

Dec 5, 2021
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Dec 5, 2021
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Cool, that PID controller is something I didn't know about. That is something I would consider adding in the future as a potential upgrade as I'm not even sure this will do what I want it to do (I want it to be essentially a decent and efficient space heater). I am interested in a plug/socket arrangement ideally where lets say the element wires are the plugs and there is a socket bank with 10 or more sockets that connect to one power supply. Any recommendations for either sockets or switches? Either seem appealing to me. Thank you for reading and commenting.
 

Trized

Dec 5, 2021
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And a main reason I want to be able to connect/disconnect or switch on/off the elements intermittently is for when using my small solar setup I want to slowly add the elements as the last one stabilizes to it's low energy usage to not use all my power starting with all of them cold and energy inefficient at once.
 

ivak245

Jun 11, 2021
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You could always have a couple of heaters through a switch or plug & socket arrangement so that these supply your "base heat", then have a couple of elements going through a PID controller (which basically supplies power to the element up to the set point temp. then turns it off , then on again after a pre-set low point is reached). They can also be programmed so they wont overshoot the set point, so as the temp. gets closer to the set point, it will cycle less frequently. Most electronic suppliers should have suitable plug/sockets available.
 

Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
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One I showed was 8 separate conductors in and out although you could almost double that.
There are many others which have more or less conductor strips.
One can also loop across sideways if required.
 

roughshawd

Jul 13, 2020
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Jul 13, 2020
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wire to wire they sell a clip/clamp that is placed in two places on the splice and is up to code. They are sized by wire guage so buy the right size. You have to use the clips or its not code...
 

Trized

Dec 5, 2021
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Dec 5, 2021
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wire to wire they sell a clip/clamp that is placed in two places on the splice and is up to code. They are sized by wire guage so buy the right size. You have to use the clips or its not code...

I googled electrical clip/clamps and found some stuff that could work. What would I be able to use that connects to multiple clips at once? Do they have some sort of think that the clips go onto properly? Or could I just use a metal strip? From what I found maybe alligator clips would be great because it would be easy to remove/add the elements at will but I wouldn't know what to connect them to.

Your reply made me think that maybe it might be best to crimp on the ends that are circles, and use machining screws and nuts to connect the individual wires. Specifically I would have one screw for the negative and one screw for the positive of the power source by the same circle attachment crimped on the wire just like the elements and all the circles will be held in snugly by a nut. That would be an easy/cheap solution to be able to easily remove/add separate elements. Or maybe aligator clamps on a screw.

And this is far from a code thing. Right now I got 4 heating elements twisted together with electrical tape in a large stainless steel salad bowl filled with sand/pebbles and the rocks are too hot to touch for more than a second and it's only sucking up 56 watts and slowly declining as the heat of the whole thing is slowly inclining so I'm starting to have some faith this will work. I might make a concrete bowl first before I waste a bunch of materials and time making a 5 gallon bucket to test it out
 

Trized

Dec 5, 2021
8
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Dec 5, 2021
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One I showed was 8 separate conductors in and out although you could almost double that.
There are many others which have more or less conductor strips.
One can also loop across sideways if required.
What I want is to connect all the negative leads of the heating elements as well as the negative wire connected to the power source and then also connect all of the positive leads in the same manner in a way where I could remove/add on wires easily. I guess this is what I should have posted as the question on this thread instead of the long post I put up but I'm grateful for your replies.

I'm starting to think I might go with these because they are cheap and it comes with 10 of them. https://www.amazon.com/Terminal-Blo..._1_26?keywords=bus+bar&qid=1639550493&sr=8-26
 
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