DC Connector and Crimper Confusions

Hello! I’m looking for some help to ease my needless inconvenience around DC power connectors and crimping them. This will get wordy, and I apologize in advance. I’m a verbose person. I’ll sort of try to put this post into sections…

I’ll start with my goal:
I’m looking for a series of power connectors suitable for relatively high loads (50-100 amps at 12-24v DC for the uncommonly larger use cases) that cover something like 10 gauge sire up to about 20 or 22 gauge, and also a set of hand crimpers to install them. (Being able to go up to 6-8 gauge would be a bonus).

This would include, ideally, an assortment of ring terminals, quarter inch quick disconnects (mostly female, to connect to smaller sealed lead acid batteries or components such as part number AS212-ND), spade connectors, something like a butt splice, and so on. I could see a use for banana plug connectors for terminal studs being a need in the future. The goal would be versatility - my ideal end result is a set of hand crimpers (and whatever extra dies necessary) and a parts organizer full of connectors to link up “anything to anything” (or at least the ability to get more connectors of the same variety if it’s not in the box).

The use case here is small volume, installed by hand. Occasionally installed in the field. The actual projects here include a lot of small scale off grid DC power/solar systems, like some would call “solar generators”, battery systems for camping, trolling motors, amateur radio, automotivce etc…
It’s hit the point that I’m now helping friends out and being commissioned for projects, and I’d like to get better consistency with the connectors I use.

Here’s where I’ve come so far:
I am well aware of the highly available crimp connectors with plastic insulation, even the fancier kids with heat shrink built on. I don’t like them. Considering how widely available they are and how widely used they are, I’m sure I’m wrong in thinking so, but mashing through plastic to crimp the connector itself seems inelegant, and I prefer to be able to get a good look and make sure that the terminal is affixed well. So I went digging.

I’ve had a lot of good results so far with open barrel connectors. I love that they have a set of, uh, wings I guess, for the conductor, and another that grabs the insulation. It’s easy to see whether or not they’re seated well, and they look elegant. There’s built in strain relief. I just add my own shrink wrap after and the results are very pleasing.

For example, part numbers A100768CT-ND or A27589CT-ND worked really well with the shoddy Canadian-Harbor-Freight-equivalent crimpers I picked up.

The issue I’ve run into was when I needed to get some ring terminals. I ordered up part numbers A122969CT-ND and A107159CT-ND to connect to some battery posts and larger DC circuit breakers. I had thought that they were the same thing as the above quick disconnect terminals, but it seems that they don’t work with my crimpers. The “wings” are apparently thicker, and don’t fit properly in any of the dies or positions that my crimper set had. It took enormous force to complete a ratchet cycle and the result mangled the connectors, even with the crimp force dial on the tool turned all the way down. I managed to make it work well enough by clamping down solidly, and then using pliers to hit the ratchet release and pry the connector out. Unfortunately, this has led to the crimpers being broken - the dies were damaged and scarred on the inside by the connectors, the ratchet pawl is worn out and no longer works, and the screw that retains the little dial to set the crimp force sheared off.

Now, I know that was a crappy tool - and I’ve started to use this sort of connector and crimpers enough that I’d like to get a better set, and since I’m doing so I might as well be really intentional about the connectors and crimp tool I buy to minimize problems.

So, where do I go from here?
(Or, now that you’ve read the wall of description, here’s the wall of questions!)

Am I on the right track? Is there another kind of utility connector that might be better suited to my needs?

I like the results of the connectors I use, it just seems like I need a better tool to crimp them. I’d rather not spend outrageous money to get a whole array of specific dies made for each connector individually - I’d prefer, if it’s possible, to have a “universal” sort of crimper that works well enough for moat/all types of connector within s certain series, then just stick to that series.

So far, it seems like I’m in good shape with the connectors - I think my biggest issue was the crimpers I had. Another set that has harder dies and possibly a slightly larger opening for the beefier ring terminals ought to work.
Or, should I rethink this entirely and pick a different kind of connector? Or is it just the specific ring terminals I picked causing me problems?

Is there a part number decoder for those TE AMP connectors to make sure I have the same variety and am consistent in the future? Currently I’m just making best guesses, filtering my “TE Connectivity AMP Connectors” in my results and using the pictures/drawings/measurements to make sure it fits my needs.

I’ve found a few options that look like they ought to work for the sorts of connectors I’ve used so far annd that I have on my shelf. I’d prefer to find an option stocked by DigiKey, or a Canadian retailer, to afvoid an infinity of cross border hassles.

  • I saw on a different help thread here a recommendation for these Klein Tools crimpers, and it looks like there are a variety of dies available. It seems like
  • Since I use Anderson PowerPole connectors for any higher amperage connections when I can, it looks like there is a general purpose die set for a tool that PowerWerx sells for PP15/30/45 connectors. I currently use a similar one labelled as a TC-1 that looks like it might fit the same die sets.
  • A company I found during my research put together a crimper and dies specifically for DIYers to do MC4 solar, PowerPoles, the regular “crimp through the plastic” terminals, and open barrel connectors like I’m posting about here. This might be a pretty good option! I like that it includes a die for an Anderson PP75/SB50.

Has anyone already done this research/solved this problem? I think I’m on the right track trying new crimpers, but if there’s something awry with the consumables I’m ordering I’m not sure how to sort that out.