Why Are NEMA Power Cords So Important?

markus winkler UP RojtnvTU unsplash
markus winkler UP RojtnvTU unsplash

Electrical and electronic appliances are so intertwined in lives now more than ever. Kitchen appliances, laptops, TVs, Speakers, gaming consoles, smart home devices, etc. are common in every household. A common feature for all these is they run on the power supply from the mains or through the battery.

Power cords are the elements that connect such appliances with electrical sockets. Thanks to these cords, operating these appliances may seem like a simple plug and play. Did you ever wonder how the scenario was before the advent of these cords?

Well, here’s what people used to do:

Connect the electrical appliances directly into the plug using open-ended wires! It was also a common practice to use mismatched and incompatible plugs to connect the appliances to the mains.  Well, we all know the safety hazards that such practices accompany.


Construction and functionality of power cords

A power cord is essentially a fixed or detachable conductor insulated all over and connects the portable electronic appliance to the supply mains. In detachable type power cords, the end that lies towards the appliance has a female connector that helps link to it. This design comes with the view to ensure safety from the live protruding pin.

Some power cords come with leakage current detectors or fuse for overcurrent protection. Power cords designed for audio-video equipment contain shields over the conductors to minimize the electromagnetic interference.

NEMA Power Cords

NEMA is the acronym for National Electrical Manufacturers Association. It is the authority that sets standards for the design and development of cable cords, electrical plugs, and receptacles all across North America.

NEMA devices are broad of two types: Straight blade and Locking.

·   The straight blade is easily detachable and the most common type in household electrical appliances.

·   The locking type of power cord does not detach from the appliance. They are used in industrial applications.

NEMA power cords are also of two types based on the grounding feature: Grounded and Ungrounded. Both these types contain two flat pins; the distinction being grounded pins contain a round pin that performs the grounding functionality.

Importance of NEMA Power Cords

Power cords are the components that carry the power supply to our devices. When a device is connected to the supply mains, a tremendous amount of electromagnetic interference gushes into the device through power cords. And this is where power cords play a critical role.


In addition to serving as connectors for electronic appliances, power cords perform many technical functions specific to each appliance:

Power cords for kitchen appliances based on voltage range:

High voltage appliances such as refrigerators demand a grounded power cord for enhanced safety to the users. Here’s where NEMA grounded power cords come into use.

Other kitchen appliances that work on low voltages say a toaster or a blender, can work on ungrounded NEMA power cords.

Power cords for audio equipment

Power cords for audio equipment are designed with different functionality. The main intention of using power cords here is to limit the magnetic interference into safe permissible levels for the user and to the device.

It is a common observation for us that power cords for speakers and music systems have a shorter cord. The length of the cable is intentionally made shorter to boost its capacity to deal with the electromagnetic effects.

Power cords for laptops

Laptop batteries work on DC to charge themselves. Thus, a power cord for the laptop is designed accordingly. The power converter side of the NEMA power cord connects to the adapter side, which provides DC to the laptop battery.

Power cords for detachable setup

Consider equipment such as TV, speakers, streaming devices, etc. They are all detachable. Hence their power cords should be in the same way. Besides, are all these devices low voltage operational? Accordingly, NEMA detachable power cords are designed for such devices to enable their technical and physical specifications.

A point to note here is not all power cords allow data and current simultaneously. Some appliances need only the current input, and accordingly, their cords are designed to allow the only current.

The future of power cords

Power cords changed the way we connect and utilize our appliances. Undoubtedly, they added safety and comfort levels at every step of our interaction with electrical devices.

So, what lies ahead for NEMA power cords?

The next era in electrical appliances is of smart devices. Right from coffee maker to the switching off of lights and fans while stepping out, the coming future is smart in every aspect. Smart plugs are already making their entry into the market. In tune with the trends, power cords are ready to find their new face to match smart devices’ requirements.

Thus, as the world moves more and more towards digital, the NEMA power cords continue to find further applications in a much smarter and efficient way.


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