NEMA Power Cords vs. IEC Power Cords- Difference Revealed!

Different cables have various applications. Some are in use for data transmission like fiber optic cable or copper cable. Some are in use for the supply of electricity. Power cord is the assembly widely used as the connection between main electricity supply and the device through a wall socket or extension cord. When we require alternating current (AC), we rely on these cords.

The plug and socket that we have used (for) million times in our lives also have a history! Today we plug in the devices with different cables very safely and with ease. But was it always like that? There were times in the world when people had to plug in mere open ends of wires. Sometimes they also had to rely on incompatible plugs. Today, almost each country in the world uses its specific standard for plugs, sockets, and power cords.

However, have you chosen the right type of power cord for your device? This is a question you need to answer for ensuring a seamless electrical supply.

Overview

The power cord is a line cable or mains cable. It bears the burden of temporarily connecting a portable electronic appliance with the main electrical supply line. This is readily possible through a wall socket or an extension cord. it includes a pair of connecting couplers on either of its ends. These connector cords are detachable from the mains supply line and the electrical appliances.

A power cord set usually has a mold of connectors at each end. Thus, both the ends are detachable from the electrical supply and device. The power cord assembly consists of two major parts. One is the cable plug. It is a male connector. Its use is for connecting the AC outlet to provide electricity. The other is the receptacle on the other end. Receptacle part acts as the female connector, which attaches to the equipment.

The cord is the main section that contains the insulated wires with different lengths and thicknesses. It is a flexible and insulated conductor having one male and one female connector attached at each end. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standardizes all these electrical cords and connecting couplers.

Different Standards of Power Cords

According to different plug and receptacle requirements, these cords have different standards. In North America, NEMA power cords and IEC 60320 cords are the common types with the standards set by NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) or IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). Let us have a look at their differences.

NEMA Power Cords

Back in 1926, the establishment of National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA) in North America took place. It developed NEMA 1 connector. Today NEMA power cords are in almost all the North American countries and in others, which have accepted the NEMA standards. The rest of the countries either create their own set of plug standards or rely on IEC standards. If these are in use with unmatched electrical supply, it can destroy the appliances.

A basic NEMA, that is, the NEMA type 1 connector has two pins, which are at least 5 inches apart from each other. If this also consists of a round pin below the two flat prongs, it becomes the NEMA type 5. A “grounded plug” uses a third pin for the grounding purposes.

Classification

The chief classifications of NEMA devices include straight blade and locking. Straight blade is evident in the household consumer goods consisting of electrical appliances. A locking NEMA power cord is in use for the major industrial purposes.

Straight blade has a design such that detaches it swiftly. The latter has a design such that it does not detach easily from the receptacle. A receptacle is a device, which mounts on an electrical appliance where the external energy cord attaches. The curve blade of the locking type of NEMA power cord allows the plug to entwine and lock into the receptacle. The letter L preceding the NEMA code identifies the locking conductor.

IEC Power Cord

The ends of IEC power cord are on the opposite side of the cord from the plug. To make it an international standard, the equipment manufacturers need to put one kind of receptacle on their equipment. In addition, it lets them manufacture various country-specific cords, when needed. The IEC 60320 C13/C14 connector type is evident on most personal computers and monitors. C19/C20 connector type is in use for devices like servers and uninterruptible power supply systems.

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