HARTING Technology Group

Wiring electrical control cabinets - best practices

How connectors beat hardwiring, saving time and money

Time savings. Cost saving. Cost certainty. Reliability. Ruggedness.Connector-based wiring has significant advantages over hard-wiring connections between machines and electrical control cabinets. Now, these advantages are available for connecting a UL 508-certified cabinet.

  • In most scenarios, using connector-based cable assemblies to connect a machine to a panel means less total labor cost.
  • That cost is predictable and stable – a one-time investment in materials and labor.
  • Connectors are plug and play, installed or removed in no time, assuring fast, reliable setup of a machine at the customer’s location.
  • Modular connectors can be user-configured to optimize panel wiring layout and save on materials.
  • Connectors are built tough for long service life. Ruggedized connectors are available for virtually all types of harsh or regulated operating environments.


Figure 1 (above - click to enlarge) provides a typical cost comparison of connectorizing versus hardwiring, for a simple pair of connections, materials and labor only. First installation is at the OEM, subsequent installations occur in the field.

OEM benchmarking confirms that hardwiring is only more cost-effective when electrical connections for a new machine are made once and once only at the machine builder, and don’t have to be unmade for delivery, installation, commissioning or warranty maintenance. Real life is quite different.

These pitfalls of hardwiring are well known, but often accepted as “part of doing business” – until the additional time and expense are documented that compare the two wiring approaches.

Building and installing connector-based wiring does cost about 40% more in parts and labor than the first hardwiring of the same connection pairs. However, as soon as those first hard-wired connections are unmade for shipping, cost favorability shifts irreversibly to connectors.

A connectorized cable assembly is disconnected in seconds, then reconnected in seconds at the end user’s facility. No actual electrical connections are unmade inside the panel, so the risk of wiring errors associated with field re-assembly is non-existent.

The initial (first installation) cost differential between hardwiring and connectorization can be minimized several ways: 

So it’s “advantage connectors” for the OEM. But what about end users? From their perspective, connectorization wins hands down. Using connectors results in less downtime during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance events. And there are other potential savings: for example, it costs less to repair severed cables in a connectorized layout, so there is less reason to spend good money protecting them with rigid or semi-rigid conduits. 

Connectorization is suitable for any panel

A HARTING expert can help project engineers choose the right connector and configuration to field assemble a UL 508-compliant or other custom cable. HARTING also offers standard cable assemblies manufactured in-house in accordance with UL specifications and bearing the UL 508 certification mark.