A common question from a customer searching for an electrical connector grease to fix an electrical connector fault that has already occurred is, why not just use a conductive grease to fix the fault? A conductive grease is never recommended to fix an electrical connector problem; a dielectric grease is always the best choice when choosing an electrical connector grease. If you are reading this because your connector has already failed or is failing intermittently, effective cleaning of the connector followed by an application of a quality dielectric electrical connector grease is the best solution.
Using conductive grease will introduce further problems and complications.
If a conductive grease was applied to an electrical connector, there is a distinct possibility that the user will be introducing further problems and complications. If the connector consists of more than just one contact/pin (e.g. a spade or bullet connection) then using a conductive grease will probably bridge one or more pins, therefore creating a electrical pathway across pins that were not meant to be connected, previously separated by an air gap or maybe insulation; this ‘shorting’ of a connector would be the probable outcome, especially if the connector was a multipin unshielded/open-faced connector but also an expected outcome of trying to apply a conductive grease to any or all pins in a shielded multipin connector.
The application of a conductive grease on an electrical connector in a volume production project would be considered a crazy decision, in the opinion of the article author. The potential process hazards of introducing a conductive grease are numerous. If the connector to be dosed with grease is anything but the most simplistic connector (such as a spade connector), the grease application method will end up being far too intricate and the possibility of introducing a fault will be too hight.
From our experience, people usually consider using a conductive grease on a connector as a reaction to a connector failing in service, rather than a preventative maintenance treatment. Using a conductive grease is considered a possible shortcut to fixing the problem rather than cleaning or replacing the connector. It maybe tempting! It’s understandable that an engineer or hobbyist could see a conductive grease as a quick fix for a badly worn or corroded connector and maybe if the connector/connection is a simple spade or bullet connector, a conductive grease could work, but this is the rare exception rather than the recommendation or rule.
If the reader works for an equipment/device manufacturer or is a parts supplier to industry (e.g. automotive), then using a conductive grease on electrical connectors should be ruled out as an option. In most circumstances, a faulty connector can be cleaned and lubricated with a dielectric connector grease to restore circuit reliability. Ideally a connector grease is used as a preventative maintenance action, it’s also a dependable fix for an ‘in service’ problem where it is possible to issue a service bulletin or other field service instruction for the relevant connector; this service bulletin could be accompanied by introducing the use of connector grease during the manufacturing stage or loom assembly stage of the harness/circuit.
Concerned that a dielectric connector grease will increase impedance across your connector? It will not. A quality dielectric lubricant/grease will not interfere with conductivity:
Why not take a look at our article about how electrical connector grease works for reassurance and we also have a demonstration video. Here is a full list of our electrical connector grease articles and we also recommend you read the facts and myths of electrical connector grease article.