A power cord is a type of electrical cable that is used to connect a device to a power outlet. There are three major components: the cord itself, the plug, and the electrical receptacle. Regardless of the device that is powered by it, a power cord is required to ensure safe use. Several standards and regulations govern power cords. To ensure safety, choose one with the proper markings and capacities.
A power cord is also known as a power connector, mains cable, or flex. It connects appliances through their own cords, with both ends plugging into a wall socket, extension board, or appliance receptacle. They are required for appliances that run on mains power or battery backup, as well as for outdoor use and hazardous locations. The wires used in a power cord carry both alternating current and direct current.
In the 1950s, manufacturers began using two-wire PVC insulated cable, known as Romex cable. Although aluminum was used to make cords cheaper, it is now considered hazardous and unsafe. Asbestos was banned as an insulator in cloth wire in the 1970s. Three-wire PVC-insulated cables l1430 are now widely used in many homes and businesses in the United States. Regardless of the wiring material used, choosing the right cord is important.
Plug patterns vary between countries. Refer to the Interpower Guide to Worldwide Plug Patterns for guidance. For single-phase power, North American and Japanese Class I plugs look similar. The difference is that the latter cord does not carry the Japanese approval symbol. Depending on your location, you can purchase an international cord with UL 817 approval. If you are concerned about safety, choose a cord with a UL or CSA mark.
Types of plugs and outlets are generally labeled according to their size and type. For example, the NEMA 5-15P to C13 cords are the most common in the U.S.; however, they are a bit less common in Europe. They come in three different sizes. Choose one that meets the specifications of your device. These are the most common and reliable power cords available on the market today. There are also hybrid versions of plugs that accept all plug types.
While most devices feature power cords, the type you need will depend on how your device will be used. AC power cords use alternating current (AC) to transmit electrical power in a sinusoidal waveform. This is the standard format in most electrical outlets. Custom power cords are specialized, extending the connection between an electric utility and an appliance. AC power cords come with a socket on one end and a plug on the other.
IEC 60320 is the international standard for power cord appliances. Although different countries use different plugs and receptacles, most nations recognize the requirements of this standard. A power cord that is approved by the IEC 60320 standard will include a C13 connector. The IEC 60320 standard also specifies the voltage, current, and temperature for the connectors. Several countries have their own standards for power cords. These standards are often referred to as C13 and C14, which are the most common types.