Common Terms Related to Power Cords

Abrasion Resistance - The ability of a power cable or material to resist surface wear.

Alternating Current (AC) - A current flow whose direction changes in regular cycles.

American Wire Gauge (AWG) - The North American standardized wire and cable-sizing system for identifying wire diameter of copper conductors. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the cable.

Ampere (A) - Unit that expresses rate of flow of an electrical current. One ampere is the current flowing through one OHM of resistance at one volt potential.

Ampacity - Also known as “current carrying capacity,” it is the capability of handling electric current, as expressed in amperes.
Arc Resistance – The time it takes for an arc to create a conductive path in a material.

Boot - A protective layer covering any part of a conductor or cable, as well as its insulation or jacket.

Braid - A covering of one or more wires made from fibrous or metallic filaments that are interwoven in cylindrical form.

Breakdown Voltage - The amount of voltage at which the insulation between two conductors or a conductor and ground deteriorates.

Bunch Stranding - The twisting of wires together within the same frequency, in order to achieve a specific gauge.

CEE - International Color Code. (See Inner Conductor Colors).

Cold Flow - Irreversible damage of the insulation due to the mechanical force of pressure.

Conductivity - A term describing the capability of any material to carry an electrical charge, typically expressed in terms of the percentage of conductivity of copper, which has 100% conductivity.

Conductor - Any material in which electrons can freely move from atom to atom (i.e. electrical current flow). Conductors, which are usually metal, could be a wire that is solid or a stranded multi-wire cable.

Conduit - A tube or trough through which wires and cables are run.

Continuity Check - A test used to determine if an electrical current will flow continuously throughout the length of a wire or cable.

Cord - A small insulated flexible cable made to withstand mechanical abuse.

CSA - Canadian Standards Association -This is a nonprofit, independent organization that operates a listing service for electrical materials and equipment in the Canadian counterpart of the Underwriters Laboratories.

Dielectric - An insulating material used in a cable to shield one conductor from another.

Direct Current (DC) - Electric current that flows in one direction only.

Electrical Circuit - The complete path of an electrical current. An electrical circuit is considered to be an open circuit when the continuity is broken and a closed circuit when continuity is maintained.

Europlug - An international plug used by many European countries. Europlug is the common name for the CEE 7/16 2.5 amp, Class II plug.

Fatigue Resistance - Resistance to the crystallization of metal, eventually leading to the breakage of conductors and wires due to flexing.

Flanged Inlets/Outlets - A flanged nylon housing that permits mounting in a panel on the front of the equipment for an electrical inlet or outlet, which is held in place by screws and bolts.

Frequency - The number of times an alternating current repeats its cycle in one second, measured in Hertz (Hz). The standard international frequency is 50Hz, while the standard North American frequency is 60Hz.

Gauge - An indication of the physical size of a wire or the wire diameter specifications. The number of the gauge is in an inverse relationship to the size of the wire (i.e. the larger the wire, the smaller the gauge number).

Ground - A complete circuit accomplished through a conductive connection between an electrical circuit and the earth or another large conducting body.

Hi-pot - A test designed to determine the highest potential of voltage that can be applied to a conductor without breaking through the pvc insulation.

High Voltage - Generally considered to be any operating voltage over 600 volts.

ICC - International Color Code on the inner conductors (blue, brown, green with yellow stripe).

IEC 60320 - Formerly “IEC 320,” it is the International Electrotechnical Commission standard that applies to a series of connectors, plugs, outlets and inlets designed for use on electrical or electronic equipment, including such portable equipment as computers, printers and medical equipment.

Insulated Wire - A conductor of electricity covered by a non-conducting material.

Insulation - Any material having high resistance to the flow of electric current that protects the inner conductors of an electrical cord.

Inner Conductor Colors:

Earth (Ground)
North American (NA)
International (ICC)
Green w/yellow stripe

Jacket - Material, usually extruded plastic or elastomer that covers wire and cable, providing protection and additional insulation.

Kilowatt (kW) - A unit of power equal to one thousand watts.

Line Cord - A cord that ends with a plug at one end and is utilized for connecting equipment to a power outlet.

Loss - The dissipation of energy without accomplishing useful work.

Molded Plug - A connector molded on one or both ends of a cable or cord.

Multi-conductor - A cord or cable complex containing more than one conductor.

N.A. - North American color code on the inner conductors (black, white & green).

National Electric Code (NEC) - A compilation of wiring practices and requirements from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Neoprene - Is a synthetic rubber that has good resistance to chemical, oil and flame.

Nylon - An abrasion resistant thermoplastic with effective chemical resistance that is utilized for cable and wire jackets, wiring devices, connectors and plugs.

OD - Abbreviation for outside diameter.

Ohm - A unit of measurement referring to electrical resistance.

Outlet - A female connection that supplies access to electricity from a source of power.

Pin and Sleeve - A receptacle, connector or plug that has round pins or sleeve-type contacts.

Plug - Also called an “attachment plug,” it is the cable mount portion of an electrical connection or male contact device that has pins or blades protruding from the face.

PVC - Polyvinyl chloride Compound used in thermoplastic SVT, SJT.

Power Supply Cord - An attachment plug molded to a length of flexible cord. May also include a molded on strain relief, or terminations on the end opposite of the plug.

Rated Voltage - The maximum voltage at which an electric component can operator extended periods without undo degradation or safety hazard.

Ribbed Outer jacket is serrated with ribs or lines.

Rip Cord - Two or more insulated conductors in a parallel configuration which may be easily separated leaving the insulation of each conductor intact.

Sheath - Often referred to as a jacket, it is the material that is applied to the outermost part of a wire or cable. Sheaths are typically made of extruded plastic or elastomer.

Shield - In cables, a metallic layer that prevents electrostatic or electromagnetic interference between wires and external fields when placed around a conductor or group of conductors.

Signal - An information conveying current, including digital, analog, audio and video information.

Single Phase - An electrical circuit that has a neutral, a line and a ground.

Socket - A device that establishes an electrical connection with plugs through tension connections. Sockets could be metal contacts that are either bent to receive the blade or pin or spring-loaded.

Strip - To remove pvc insulation away from the copper conductors.

Stagger Cut - To shorten the lead length of a conductor lead to make them various lengths.

Surge - Also called a “transient,” it is the temporary and relatively large increase in the voltage in an electric circuit or cable.

Temperature Rating - The maximum temperature at which the insulating material maybe used in continuous operation without loss of its basic properties.

Terminal - Any device or component attached to the conductor by crimping, soldering or welding.

Tensile Strength - The pulling stress required to break a given specimen of wire and or copper.

Three-phase - An electrical circuit that holds three lines and a ground or three lines, a neutral and a ground. The three lines are 1201/4 out of phase with each other.

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) - A jacketed material which has many of the characteristics of rubber, as well as excellent electrical, mechanical and chemical properties.

Thermosetting - A classification of resin which cures by chemical reaction when heated and, when cured, can not be re-softened by heating.

Tinned - A silver-white, ductile metal used to coat copper conductors, especially when solder termination is to be used.
Tolerance The acceptable plus or minus deviation from specification length or dimension.

UL Underwriters Laboratories - This is a nonprofit independent organization that operates a listing service for electrical and electronic materials and equipment.

Voltage Rating - The maximum voltage that can be continuously applied to a wire in conformance to standards or specifications.

VW-1 - Formerly designated as “FR-1,” it is a rating established by UL for wire and cables that pass a specifically designed vertical flame test for flammability.

Volt (V) - Unit of electomotive force. It is the difference of potential required to make a current of one ampere flow through a resistance of one OHM.

Voltage - The term most often used in place of electromotive fore, potential, difference or voltage drop, to designate electric pressure that exists between two points and is capable of producing a flow of current when a closed circuit is connected between the two points.

Voltage Breakdown - Test to determine maximum voltage of insulated wire before electrical current leakage flow through the wire insulation.

W-A - UL designation for outdoor-approved flexible cord.

Watt - A unit of measurement that refers to electric power.

Wire Gauge - Any standard system of numerical designations for wire sizes (e.g. the AWG).

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