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nema

  1. NEMA vs. IEC: Power Cord Regulations

    NEMA and IEC are the two most common standards for power cords used in North America. NEMA connectors are on the side of the power cord that plugs into an AC wall outlet. IEC connectors are the side that plugs into devices like computers or TVs. By and large, NEMA and IEC are compatible with each other. There are many similarities between NEMA and IEC standards, but they are not quite the same.

    NEMA Connectors

    NEMA is an acronym for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Established in 1926, NEMA is an American organization focused on creating, establishing, and promoting safety standards for electrical equipment. Power cords are one of many items that fall under their jurisdiction. Despite being an American organization, NEMA standards are also primarily used in Canada and Mexico as well as parts of Central and South America, nearby small island nations such as Cuba, and some larger countries across the sea like Japan.

    NEMA connectors are labeled as two numbers separated by a dash. The first number indicates the voltage rating of the cable; “5” stands for 125 volts and “6” stands for 250 volts. The second number indicates the amperage of the plug. There will also be a letter after the numbers, either a “P” for plug or an “R” for receptacle. For example, a 5-15P connector will be a plug rated for 125 volts and 15 amps.

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  2. Hospital-Grade Power Cords

    In North America and Japan, special power cords are required for use with any equipment in a hospital or medical setting. Some other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark use similar recommendations, but they are not technically required by law. This article will focus on power cords required for medical equipment in North America, most notably the United States and Canada.

    In Technical Terms

    Under regulatory and safety committees in the US and Canada, hospital-grade power cord requirements are highlighted under the following sections:

    • UL 60601-1 and CAN/CSA C22.2 no. 21 (medical equipment standards)
    • UL 817 and CAN/CSA 22.2 no. 21 (power supply cord standards)
    • UL 498 and CAN/CSA 22.2 no. 42 (attachment plug and receptacle standards)

    Additionally, they must conform to NEMA WD-6 and UL 817 by meeting the following requirements:

    1. The blade plugs must be made of solid brass, not folded brass.
    2. The blade plugs are nickel-plated.
    3. The plug includes a strain relief or similar device to reduce stress on internal components.
    4. The plug is marked with a “green dot” to signify it is hospital-grade.

    These standards can apply to any cord that uses a NEMA 5-15, 5-20, 6-15, or 6-20 plug.

    5-15
5-20
6-

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