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Mains Cable Assemblies

IEC 60320 Appliance couplers for household and similar general purposes is a set of standards from the International Electro technical Commission (IEC) specifying non-locking appliance and interconnection couplers for connecting power supply cords to electrical appliances up to 250 volts. Appliance couplers enable the use of standard inlets and country-specific cord sets which allow manufacturers to produce the same appliance for many markets, where only the cord set has to be changed for a particular market. Interconnection couplers allow a power supply from a piece of equipment or an appliance to be made available to other equipment or appliances. Couplers described under these standards have standardized current and temperature ratings.

Different types of connector (distinguished by shape and size) are specified for different combinations of current, temperature and earthing requirements. Unlike IEC 60309 connectors, they are not coded for voltage; users must ensure that the voltage rating of the equipment is compatible with the mains supply.

Each type of coupler is identified by a standard sheet number. For appliance couplers this consists of the letter C followed by a number, where the standard sheet for the appliance inlet is 1 higher than the sheet for the corresponding cable connector. Many types of coupler also have common names. The most common ones are IEC connector for the common C13 and C14, the figure of 8 connector for C7 and C8, and cloverleaf connector or Mickey Mouse connector for the C5/C6. Kettle plug is a colloquial term used for the high-temperature C16 appliance inlet (and sometimes, wrongly, for the mating C15 female connector). Kettle plug is sometimes, incorrectly, used to refer to regular temperature C13 and C14 connectors.

Application

Detachable appliance couplers are used in office equipment, measuring instruments, IT environments and medical devices, among many types of equipment for worldwide distribution. Each appliance's power system must be adapted to the different plugs used in different regions. An appliance with a permanently attached plug for use in one country cannot be readily sold in another which uses an incompatible wall socket; this requires keeping track of variations throughout the product's life cycle from assembly and testing to shipping and repairs.

Since a country-specific power supply cord can be included in the product packaging, model variations are minimized and factory testing is simplified. A cord which is fitted with non-rewireable (usually moulded) connectors at both ends is termed a cord set. Appliance manufacturing may be simplified by mounting an appliance coupler directly on the printed circuit board. Assembly and handling of an appliance is easier if the power cord can be removed without much effort.

Appliances can be used in another country easily, with a simple change of the power supply cord (including a connector and a country-specific plug). The power supply cord can be replaced easily if damaged because it is a standardized part that can be unplugged and re-inserted. Safety hazards, maintenance expenditure and repairs are minimized.