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2020 Buyer’s Guide to Power Cord

Buy and Custom Power Cords, AC Power Cord for Sale

Are you looking for custom power cords, or eagerly looking to buy an affordable, top-quality power adapter cord for a computer monitor, laptop, projector, TV, printer, etc.? Check out the 2020 new power extension cord buying guide for Computer, Home Appliance, Consumer Electronics, and Instrumentation. We’ll offer you the best cables and cords of 2020 with custom AC power cord service for your projects, ideas, and plans.

We know! The power of power cords – Understanding them, and can help you make powerful decisions about selecting and sourcing the right electric power cables. 

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What happens when you unpack an electric device, place it on the installation location, and turn it on to use it? It won’t work! The reason is obvious: There’s no electricity flowing through the device to run it – yet! For the equipment to function correctly, you must first plug the right power cord into an electric outlet.

In this post, we’ll explore the power behind the humble power lead, and explain the different types of cables available in different parts of the world.

selecting and sourcing the right electric power cables

What is mains power?

To use an electrical equipment, whether it is a home appliance, industrial equipment or office device, requires the availability of electrical power to the device. Without electricity, the device is inoperable – unless it also functions on auxiliary power such as battery or solar power. The source of providing electrical power – also known by other names (more on that shortly), from the power source into the equipment, is a power cable.

Electricity delivered to homes and businesses goes by many names – mains power, wall power, grid power and utility power. It is that power that makes home appliances or business equipment run. Unfortunately, there is no single standard type of electrical power cord that supplies electricity to various types of devices. The variety of cords and cables is as varied as the equipment and devices they deliver power to. Without mains power, the equipment will not function properly.

the power cord play

Additionally, without the right type of mains power, the equipment won’t work! For example, you can’t make a piece of equipment rated for 110 volts work by supplying it 120 volts of electricity. Either of two outcomes might result – the equipment might burn out, or the mains lead used to connect the device to the power source might malfunction. That’s because the power cord fabricator designed the cord to carry specifically rated power to correspondingly rated equipment. Any mismatch between them may spell disaster!

And that’s why it’s important to appreciate the awesome power of mains power, and the pivotal role that the cables play in delivering that power!

What role does the power cord play?

As indicated previously, for optimal performance of electrical appliances and devices, power must flow from a power source, such as a utility generation station, a generator, batteries or wall socket, and into the device/machine. That connection is implemented using cords, cables or leads that plug into a power source’ socket, and then connect to the devices.

power cord application

It is the power cord manufacturer whose job it is to ensure that the extension cord supplied with the device appropriately matches the power requirements of that device. 

These cords may be used for various devices or equipment, including:

  • Computers, printers and monitors
  • Home appliances, including electric kettles, toasters, rice cookers, electric fans and heaters, microwave ovens
  • Photocopying machines, office shredders
  • Industrial equipment such as CNC machines, grinders and power drills

Depending on the specifications provided to the power cord maker, the power extension cord has two ends. In some cases, the cable is built-into the device, in other cases it comes as a detached item that must be attached to the device first, and then plugged into the power source. Typically, these cords are designed with either two or three connection couplers on one end of the line cord, and may have a similar, or different, number of connections at the other.

The only function of the mains cable is to receive power from a power source, and deliver it temporarily to the machine, equipment or device to which it (the cord) is attached. This type of cord is also called an AC power cord because of the type of power it delivers – which is  alternating current (AC). Difference between DC cable and AC cable, and the two types of cables have different plugs and varying specifications and manufacturing standards.

Why are power cord plugs, sockets and specifications important?

Just as no two appliance manufacturer produces an identical device – such as a computer or a washing machine, so too there are a different types of sockets, plugs and power connections used across the world. The graphic below will help to illustrate this point:

different types of world plugs map

The map shows the specifications that a power cord fabricator must follow when manufacturing plugs for specific voltage ratings around the globe. Use this map as a handy guide to determine the type of plug used in your particular region, or any other region to which you might export cords or cables.

Now that you know what type of plug a specific region supports, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the power extension cable used in those regions, and the types of sockets each of them supports.

the types of sockets with plugs 

The graphic images help identify to a power cord manufacturer the types of plugs and their corresponding sockets. This chart is also useful to determine whether a socket supports a power cord used for a specific piece of equipment in your region.  If the pins on the plug do not match the formation of openings (holes) on the socket, it is likely that the cord won’t function properly. You may need an adapter or a custom power cord to use the device.

What are the various types of mains power and connectors?

Earlier on, we briefly touched upon the fact that there are various types of AC-rated power supplied across the world. Typically, therefore, the type of AC power cord used to supply electricity to a device differs from region to region based on mains power used in that region, and the type of connector available for the cord to draw its electricity supply.

the world plug voltage map

The two popular types of connectors available are The National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA) standard and International Electro technical Commission (IEC) standard connector. These international bodies are responsible for certification of any form of power cord used in a particular region. Any cord manufacturer who supplies cords to the region must be familiar with, and comply to, the designated standards published by these bodies.

NEMA Power Cables

NEMA is responsible for certification of cables and cords used anywhere in North America and other regional countries. These cables have a range of between 2.5 to 60 Amps, and from 125 to 600 Volts. This creates a unique challenge for equipment makers and the power cord manufacturer that produces cables to support those equipment’s: They give rise to plugs that are uniquely non-interchangeable between Amp and Volt-based equipment.

NEMA connector Chart

The chart above provides a handy comparison of North American non-locking plugs and receptacles. Its plain to see that, based on the NEMA standard, there are many variations of receptacles and plugs. NEMA Type-1 supports a rounded plug below two flat ones. However, the NEMA Type-5 standard comes with a third plug that grounds the power (grounding). In the U.S. and many other North American countries, the power extension cord that supports NEMA 1-15-P and the NEMA 5-15-P are the most popular. 

Clearly, as the chart shows, there is a huge difference between cord requirements to support 1-15R and those that support 5-15R. The two types of cords cannot be interchanged – they just won’t support the devices requiring 125V of power. Equipment users might require either an adapter or a personalized power cord to bridge the difference.

IEC Power Cords

The IEC’s 60320 standards outline the specifications for non-locking connectors to connect electrical appliances with their associated power cable. The power supported by such cords not greater than 250 Volts (V) AC, with current ratings not greater than 16 Amps (A).

IEC 60320 Power Cord Configurations Chart
Pin Layout
Female
Male
Connector
Outlet
Female
Classification
Plug
Inlet
Male
Classification
International
Rating
N.America
Rating
Is
Grounded?
Poles
IEC C1 C2 connectorC1C2250V
2.5 Amps
125V
10 Amps
No2 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C3 C4 connectorC3C4250V
2.5 Amps
125V
10 Amps
No2 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C5 C6 connectorC5 C6250V
2.5 Amps
125V
10 Amps
Yes3 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C7 C8 connector C7C8250V
2.5 Amps
125V
10 Amps
No2 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C9 C10 connectorC9C10250V
6 Amps
/No2 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C11 C12 connectorC11C12250V
10 Amps
125V/250V
15 Amps
No2 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C13 C14 connectorC13C14250V
10 Amps
125V/250V
15 Amps
Yes3 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C15 C16 connectorC15C16250V
10 Amps
125V/250V
15 Amps
Yes3 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C17 C18 connectorC17C18250V
10 Amps
125V / 250V
15 Amps
No2 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C19 C20 connectorC19C20250V
16 Amps
125V/250V
20Amps
Yes3 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C21 C22 connectorC21C22250V
16 Amps
125V/250V
20 Amps
Yes3 Wires
2 Poles
IEC C23 C24 connectorC23C24250V
16 Amps
125V/250V
20 Amps
No2 Wires
2 Poles

The standard lays out the requirements for the shapes and sizes of various types of connectors, and their supported characteristics, such as earthing/grounding requirements, temperature tolerances and current. The above chart is a ready-reckoner to help the power cord maker navigate those differences.

Certifications to watch for

Each region or country has its own set of certification requirements for line cord connectors. As a electrical cable manufacturer supplying to multiple regions, meeting the certification standards of one jurisdiction doesn’t automatically mean that your cable may automatically be used in another region. Approval requirements often differ from country to country/region. Here is a brief check list to use when trying to identify what certification your power extension cable needs:

North America UL, cUL or CSA
Europe ENEC
Japan PSE
China CCC

The following chart provides you with additional markings that any internationally-reputable power cord manufacturer must be familiar with:

certification requirements for line cord connectors

As you can appreciate from this discussion, and the associated maps, charts and diagrams, a power cord supplier must comply with the highest standards of certification in order to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the power cord supplied with each equipment.

How do you customize your power cord requirements?

With so many standards, shapes and characteristics of a power cable to choose from, how does one determine the unique features that will match the cord requirements for their personal use. Well, here’s a check list to use to confirm your tailor-made power cord needs:

  • Voltage: Within North America, a plugs’ voltage ratings may vary between 100 to 127V, to anywhere between 200 and 240V. Even within a single country, greater or lesser amperage determines variations in plug patterns.
  • Current ratings of the power lead: Each country or region has different current ratings for the cables and cords used. Even between North American jurisdictions, these ratings may differ.
  • The types of plugs: A typical socket may have pins varying in number from 2 to 5. And their shapes might also be different – rectangular, round, straight or oval in configuration. NEMA 5-15P and 5-20P are the most common. Knowing the power rating and voltage helps in identifying the type of plug for your power extension cable.
  • Export-related plug requirements: Some country-specific plug patterns look identical to those used in other jurisdictions – but they may not be interchangeable. For instance, a NEMA AC power cord is not a suitable replacement for a Euro-destined CEE 7/7 power mains lead – and vice versa.

You now appreciate why it isn’t practical to mix and match an electric power cord, meant for one piece of equipment, with that meant for a different device. The requirements laid out in the above list also underscore the importance of using cords rated for specific plugs only for those types of plugs and none others. Follow this simple checklist to make sure you receive a custom power cord that meets your specific requirements. 

How to choose the right power cord manufacturer?

From our discussion above, we’ve seen that, in most cases, taking cables meant for one country or region, and substituting them for those destined for other countries just won’t work. That’s because the unique design and specification requirements often makes the power extension lead non-interchangeable. Forcing a round pin into a flat receptable may damage the cord, the receptable or even the device, once power is turned on.

That’s why it is vital that you exercise diligence when choosing a power cord manufacturer to produce cables, leads and cords that meet – and even exceed your requirements. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • Work with someone who can manufacture both NEMA and non-NEMA (CEE, IEC etc.) cables
  • Choose someone that has a track record for delivering to the highest quality standards
  • Identify a partner that can guarantee rapid turn-around times – under a week
  • Find someone who can deliver to a wide variety of requirements, whether that is an OEM mains cable, special-purpose custom power cord or any other unique or one-time requirement
  • Ask about their ability to deliver bulk requirements – and not just small-quantity orders

More importantly though, is their pricing and competitiveness in terms of business terms. To ensure you have a long-standing relationship in place, choose a power cord manufacturer who offers you the best pricing and the most favorable commercial terms. Pay special attention to payment modes, warranties and returns and after sales support. 

Here at DelightFire, we offer a one-stop way to service all your power cord requirements. We not only have in-house expertise to deliver NEMA and non-NEMA cables, but can also guarantee bulk order delivery in record time. Best of all, our high-quality standards and amazing prices have the power to turn you into a long-term, satisfied customer.

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