How to Select AC Power Cords             Image credit:  Tripp Lite; SFCable.com; Pelonis Technologies   AC power cords carry alternating current from one area to another.   Cord Construction   The GlobalSpec SpecSearch database contains information about an AC power cord's end type, polarization, and jacket material.   End Type NEMA connectors are standardized by the National Electrical Manufacturer's...
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Q & A on AC Power Cords

We asked our users for their input on AC Power Cords. Here are the results of 74 users familiar with AC Power Cords.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing AC power cord design?
13 answers
Answers:
Wireless Market. A new design should forget the ethernet cable by integrating it in to to the power cord.
~Arno P, Marketing/Sales, Nijkerk, The Netherlands
Global regulatory requirements of Asia, connector design, cordage harmonization.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
Digital chip processing which requires solid current flow to avoid "brown-outs".
~Lee W, President, Sound & Lighting Engineer, Ashland, VA
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Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative AC power cords?
6 answers
Answers:
Hard to say, as power cords did not change the last decade . At least not on functionality. The best design would be a universal plug and universal connector. Same as happening with country unique telephone numbers which is more and more converting to RJ11.
~Arno P, Marketing/Sales, Nijkerk, The Netherlands
We always have confidence in any Woods product.
~Lee W, President, Sound & Lighting Engineer, Ashland, VA
General Electric, Motorola and some Japanese manufacturers.
~Jose A, Quality Control, Fajardo, PR

Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used an AC power cord for?
15 answers
Answers:
Large AC current demand Equipment - Uninterruptable Power Supply units 40KW - 400 KW. Document Processing Equipment (Bank reader-sorters & high speed scanners), AC entry power cord specification & design to meet Product Safety and Regulatory requirements of North America, and Worldwide.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
Hook up power supplies, power all home appliances, power a drop lite, hook up battery chargers, power up fans, television sets, table lamps, just about everything electrical around the house, shop, etc.
~Jose A, Quality Control, Fajardo, PR
Servers; Workstations; Proprietary Equipment; Transceivers; Encoders; Modems; Monitors; Touchscreens; Maintenance; Equipment; UPS; Decoders; Recording Equipment; Power Supplies
~Davidson A, Technical Support, Red Deer, Canada
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Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that an AC power cord has been used for.
5 answers
Answers:
We usually build our own cables with California type plugs for distos and generators. Most of the self cables don't have the tough or flexible jackets or large enough gauge wire on all conductors. (Many have small ground conductors.) We also have some specialty cables with external ground wires for use with generators and ground rods or older facilities with bad or non-existent grounds. In other words, in our work we have to do things that aren't always "legal" or "code" but absolutely necessary to keep our sound systems quiet, the people and equipment protected and insure the success of our jobs.
~Lee W, President, Sound & Lighting Engineer, Ashland, VA
Internal machine AC distribution cabling.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
As an electroplating power source.
~Jose A, Quality Control, Fajardo, PR

Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of an AC power cord?
9 answers
Answers:
Sure. The best one that is coiling a lot of cable (especially in a constant loop, instead of alternating loops), leaving a large pile of it coiled up, creating a "field of resistance" and therefore heat, and then have it melt the jacket or conductor and short.
~Lee W, President, Sound & Lighting Engineer, Ashland, VA
AC cord connectors can overheat and either melt or burn, either from an incorrect wire to terminal crimp, incorrectly sized conductor, defective input circuit breaker, etc.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
Recycling of stripped plastic would release copper burrs during plug injection... this was a long time ago.
~Ricardo S, Engineer, Porto Alegre - RS, Brazil
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FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
13 answers
Answers:
Various gauges of wire inside of one cable. A cable that will efficiently handle ac and dc applications at the same time.
~Rick W, Facilities Manager, Cambridge, Canada
Additional choices for custom built AC entry cords certified for China, and rated up to 20 Amps AC.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
Universal hook up, be able to switch from one appliance to another without disassembling appliance.
~Jose A, Quality Control, Fajardo, PR
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Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of an AC power cord?
6 answers
Answers:
Communicate with product marketing and Sales, to know what countries they intend to sell product into. Become familiar with each respective country's AC power sources used for the business environment your product will be used in. Ensure that AC power cord will comply with national and international regulatory product compliance requirements.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
To avoid errors I work with a calculation sheet where every detail needed for power cord is on the form. If this is not filled in by both parties, then no approval for price. On the specification a company stamp and on the calculation approval from factory/supplier. According to RoHS and REACH if you export to Europe.
~Arno P, Marketing/Sales, Nijkerk, The Netherlands
Beware, just because it says #12 it doesn't mean that it can actually handle 20amps, if there is not enough copper in the connectors and wire.
~Lee W, President, Sound & Lighting Engineer, Ashland, VA

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using an AC power cord?
7 answers
Answers:
Don't assume that specification of an AC cord for a product is an easy process. There are many factors involved.
~Robert Moeller, Certifications and System Design Engineer, Irving, TX
Buy the best designed, proper wire size according to length, make sure a grounding element has been included.
~Jose A, Quality Control, Fajardo, PR
Detailed and correct specification. Approvals and certificates for the specific country.
~Arno P, Marketing/Sales, Nijkerk, The Netherlands
Make sure the power cord is designed to the application i.e. correct gauge.
~Iko BG, Engineering Manager, Rehovot, Israel
Keep length to the minimum required for maintenance.
~Davidson A, Technical Support, Red Deer, Canada
Use the right cable for the right application.
~Rick W, Facilities Manager, Cambridge, Canada
Choose proper wire gauge.
~Martyt T, Faculty/Staff, Southfeild, MI


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