Electric cords are used to enable the transfer of electrical energy by connecting a piece of electrical equipment or appliances to a main power source. At the heart of every electric cord is a conducting medium, which is typically copper. The conducting medium is surrounded by an insulating material and a protective jacket. According to the desired use and application, electric cords can vary in size and length.
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Electric Cord Design
Electric cords are usually flexible, although there are some varieties that are made to be semi-rigid. At each end of the electric cord, there is an electrical plug. The plug that features a set of prongs that connect to a receptacle is known as a male, while the electrical receptacle is referred to as the female. Type A plugs are the types of plugs that are used the most frequently, and they feature two prongs or conducting blades. Type B plugs have an additional third prong which serves as a grounding mechanism.
In order for the cord to successfully and safely transfer electrical energy between the power source and the appliance, the connection between the plug and the receptacle must be fitted. Electrical receptacles, or females, can be fabricated from insulating materials such as nickel, silver, galvanized steel, or plastic. Most receptacles run on a standard 120-volt system, but for electrical equipment such as industrial machinery that requires a higher voltage, heavy duty 240-volt receptacles are available. Some receptacles come with an additional slot known as a grounding hole, which is implemented for polarization purposes.
Applications of Electric Cords
Any piece of electrical equipment that requires connection to a power source—such as machinery, domestic appliances, and computers—utilizes an electric cord. The use of these electric cords can be found in numerous industries, such as electronics, food processing, commercial, and retail. There is a wide variety of uses for electrical cords due to the variety of capabilities and lengths in which they can be fabricated.
Standards and Specifications for Electric Cords
The NEMA system as well as other international sets of standards assist in maintaining consistency in fabricating electric cords, and minimize the risk of quality-related malfunctions. Polarizing an electric plug greatly reduces the risk of electric shock or electrocution for anyone handling the piece of equipment, and is achieved by separating the positive charge from the negative charge within the cord. In a polarized plug, the structure of the plug’s prongs permits only one way for the plug to connect to the socket. This ensures that the piece of equipment is connected to the side of the circuit that is neutral, or grounded. Polarized or grounding-type electric cords are essential for sensitive electrical products and equipment.
Things to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Cord
There are quite a few factors to take into consideration when deciding which electric cord is appropriate for a certain application. When manufacturers fabricate electric cords, they take certain specifications into account, including cable temperatures, jacket materials, wire shape, wire size, cord length, current rating, voltage rating, and the type of plugs and electrical receptacles. Because the component involves the transfer of electrical energy, one must take safety measures in handling the equipment. Misuse or deterioration of the equipment can pose a safety hazard and potentially lead to property damage, injury, or death. The standards for configuration and voltage capacity in North America is set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, or NEMA. Other countries around the world have their own systems of voltage and configuration standards for their plugs, which is why people who are traveling and are planning to bring electrical devices and cords from their own country must bring electrical plug adapters. Fortunately, there are numerous electric cord manufacturers who supply international cords and adapters in order to accommodate those who are abroad. Additional measures that must be taken are the upkeep of both cords and sockets. In settings such as residences and manufacturing and industrial facilities, electrical cords are used extensively. Deterioration in cords and receptacles are most commonly caused by frequent usage. Therefore, the use of high-quality materials and strict maintenance and upkeep of your electrical cords is essential in reducing safety risks in the workplace or home.
Accessories for Electric Cords
There are some instances where it is either recommended or necessary for an electric cord be used for multiple pieces of equipment. Therefore, cord splitters are available to make this possible. Cord splitters allow for the plugging in of two or more pieces of equipment into a single receptacle. There are numerous types of cord splitters that accommodate for cords of varying wire sizes and voltage levels. However, acquiring the wrong type of cord can result in decreased performance in the equipment. Thus, it is important to consult with a cord manufacturer to ensure that you find a splitter that is suitable.