What is a Panel Interface Connector?

December 2, 2016

PIC front viewA panel interface connector (PIC) can also be referred to as a programming port or programming interface. It is installed on the outside of a control panel that has a PLC, computer, or other similar type of equipment inside. The PIC can contain various combinations of pass through connections, which lets the user have access to the equipment inside the control panel without making it necessary to open the panel door.

PIC side viewPanel interface connectors provide better overall safety, because they do away with some of the possible problems that are caused by opening an electrical panel. The biggest example is Arc Flash. An arc flash happens when there is a short created between electrified conductors. The electrical short is typically caused if the conductors cannot control the applied voltage, or if the isolation between the conductors is compromised. The air around the short can ionize, giving the molecules in the air a charge, thereby causing an arc flash explosion. These explosions can reach temperatures of 5000 F or more. Arc flashes are dangerous, sometimes resulting in serious injury, severe burns, hearing loss, or even fatalities. The National Fire Protection Agency has standards that demand protection boundaries, specified training, and protective clothing for operators working with electrical enclosures. Only these workers can then have access to these enclosures. Because using a PIC gets rid of the need to open the panel door, it saves time on training and saves the expense of equipment.

PICs can feature several types of connections. Options include power outlets, D-Subminiatures, RJ45 or RJ11 ports, mini Din, BNC, USB ports, Ethernet, & Device Net. Power outlets can be single, dual, or GFCI dual. There are also international options for European, China, United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Argentina outlets. These connections can be configured in almost any way that's needed, in different housing sizes to meet the requirements of the application. Most have epoxy coated aluminum bulkhead mount housings, with stainless steel levers and polyamide handles. A 3 amp resettable fuse is a common feature, allowing the user to better control the power output. There are number of configurations available for purchase online, but more customized PICs can also be ordered over the phone. Panel interface connectors with low profile housings are also available. They are 75% shorter than the standard housings, therefore taking up less space. They also feature clear doors to easily view the components inside, with screw locking mechanisms.