Power Cords : The Lungs of Our Electrical World

We cannot separate electricity from our lives. Majority of our day-to-day activities are either contingent on machines or electricity. Electrical supply is inevitable for machines. An electrical appliance requires a means to stay connected with the grid. A metal conductor sheathed inside a poly vinyl chloride insulator known as a power cord is that means.

Power cord, power connector, mains cable or line cord - call it with any of those names but the purpose it serves would not change. These power cords allow us to build a system of temporary connection. Using them, we can connect our electrical appliance with the wall socket or an extension board. It has two ends. The receptacle attaches one of those ends and the socket installs the other end. This arrangement is flexible and absolute.

Some appliances are purely power driven. They always need the electrical supply for its operation. For connection with the mains electrical supply line, these appliances require power cords. Few appliances are battery backed. They majorly need the connection only to recharge their batteries. These cords are capable of carrying alternating current as well as direct current.

IEC Connector

IEC is a non-profit and a non-govt organization. It sets specific standards for connectors, which attach the power cord with the electrical appliances. These connecting couplers are available in different combinations of earthing, for temperatures and current needs.

Using these connecting couplers, merchants can produce appliances for multiple markets. Now, power supply standards differ from one country to the other. Therefore, the merchants just need to change just the power cord. This saves additional cost and time. Moreover, they can supply these power cords across the world.

IEC 60320

IEC 60320 is a pre set standard safety regulation for general home electrical appliances. As per the regulation, voltage needs to be “Not more than 250 volts” (AC). In addition, the current needs to be “Not more than 16A.” In 1970, IEC’s first edition was in publishing. Classifying based on standards divided IEC 60320 into several parts. These standards define the electrical, thermodynamic, and mechanical requirements along with the safety goals of power cords.

The IEC standards are acceptable across the world. However, some North American Rating agencies rate the products higher than IEC. This includes Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the UL Safety Organization of the US.

For example, IEC specifies C13 Power Cord with the rating of 10A current. But due to the tolerance threshold of 5% of 120 V in US & Canada, UL specifies it up to 15A.


Most of the computer desktops and some instrument amplifiers, printers, monitor and other portable devices use the c13 power cord, which has a standard specified under IEC 60320. This is a power cord and one of its ends attaches a country specific standard power plug. A coupler attaches its other end and an IEC cord or a computer power cord is its name. Computer Cord, as its major use is in computer applications.

Household sewing machines use a specific type of standard under IEC 60320-2-1. These are not interchangeable with other power cords from IEC 320.

The IEC 60320-1 includes other general household equipment power cords. All the equipment enlisted under this standard, operate under the normal 250 Volts, and 16A.