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How does an IEC Power Cord Work
Written By: John R. Sewell

IEC Power Cords here in the US were generally designed for the US market only. But over the last couple decades or so; US companies in the Medical, Test and Computer/computer peripheral equipment sought entry into the foreign markets and foreign companies wanting to tap the vast N. American markets were faced with the problem that almost every country had it’s own wall plug & Voltage system.

Internal power supplies were no problem as they were easily designed for a voltage range that covered 100-120V and 200-240V, and were selected by either a Universal Input where no operator intervention is needed; or a range switch is provided for operator to set input Voltage. Power Cord 6ft. UL Listed NEMA 5 to IEC C13 So along came the Commission Electrotechnique International (French) or as more widely known as the International Electrotechnical Commission or the IEC. The IEC sets standards foe the European Union and others. As the Us has had to think globally, the IEC is playing a greater role. Think of them as like a cross of UL & NEC (National Electrical Code) here in the US.

IEC specification 60320 became the standard to harmonize equipment through the world by use of several standard equipment mounted connectors that accept interchangeable power cords. Cord sets have socket end that matches the connector on equipment while the Plug end matches the power outlets in the country of use. Equipment connectors are selected by the manufacture for the max. current expected. Manufactures no longer had to install a specific cord for each country but just use the universal equipment mounted socket. Much easier to toss in the correct cord than make each machine dedicated to a country. Also, it was easier to move equipment from country to country.

Most cord sets used here in the US have the standard NEMA (National Electrical Manufactures Association) 1-15P, 2 wire with parallel flat blades (non-grounding), 2 wire, IEC Connector Types Parallel blades with 1 Blade wider (Polarized Wide blade always Neutral) or 5-15P 3 Wire 2 Flat blades & 1 round Pin (Grounding). The opposite end commonly has the IEC C-13, C-7 or C-5 connector.

IEC C-13 is rated at 15Amps (3 wire Grounding) and mates to the C-14 on the equipment and is found on your desktop computer. IEC C-7 is rated at 2.5A (2 wire non grounding) and mates to the C-8 on the equipment and used on Desktop power supplies and some Home entertainment equipment. IEC C-5 is rated 2.5/3A (3Wire Grounding) and mates to the C-6 on the equipment and is found on Laptop supplies and is sometimes called the “Mouse Ears” connector. US Power cords have 2 or 3 wires where one is known as the “Line” the second is the “Neutral” the third is the “Ground” and; with few exceptions (stoves, AC, dryers units) are 115V. With 115V You will always have the Line & Neutral. Cord color code is Black for Line (the “Brass” colored screw on receptacles), White for Neutral (The “Silver” screw). Foreign cords (with a few exceptions) are 220V. Cord color code is Brown for Line 1, Blue for Neutral and Green/Yellow for Ground.

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