IEC refers to a technical name for common electrical cords used for many household appliances in the United States and Canada. IEC is short for International Electrotechnical Commission, the organisation responsible for defining the criteria by which IEC cables are defined. IEC cables utilise alternating current (AC) electrical systems, which power most homes and businesses in North America. Connectors are typically paired, with one end being the receptacle (or female) end and the other being the prong (or male) end.
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Class 0 IEC cables are the lowest grade of AC electrical cable available. Such cables are only thinly insulated and provide no grounding, so the risk of electrical shock is higher than with higher quality cables. Due to these problems, the IEC is in the process of getting rid of this class of cable.
Class I IEC cables are of a slightly higher quality than Class 0 cables. They are required to be grounded in case of a fault in the insulation.
Class II IEC cables feature a double layer of insulation around the electrical wiring. Such cables are used with appliances that have their own safety mechanisms in place for avoiding electrical shock in cases where there is a fault in the wiring.
Class III IEC cables are designed to carry power from a Safety Extra Low Voltage (SELV) power source. Such power is so low that the risk of shock is almost nonexistent, even if a person were to come into direct contact with an electrical wire. Battery chargers typically use Class III IEC cables.
C1 and C2 cables use two-prong power connectors, with C1 being the female end and C2 being the male end. These cables can carry a 0.2 amp current. Common uses of this class of cable are for electric shavers.
Similar to the C1/C2, C3 and C4 cables use two-prong power connectors. C3 refers to the female end and C4 refers to the male end. These cables are capable of carrying a 2.5 amp current.
C5 and C6 cables use three-pronged power connectors. C5 refers to the female end and C6 refers to the male end. This type of cable may be referred to as a "Mickey Mouse" cable due to the fact the prongs are arranged in a triangle similar to Mickey Mouse's head and ears. These connectors are capable of carrying a 2.5 amp current. Many electronic devices make use of the C5 and C6 cables, including laptop computers and some older desktop computers.
C7 and C8 cables utilise another form of two-prong power connector. Unlike their lower numbered counterparts, C7 and C8 cables may be arranged to carry polarised power, with one prong designated for negative charge and the other for positive charge. C7 connectors are often referred to as "figure 8" connectors due to their shape, or "euro-connectors" due to their prevalence in European electronics. These cables are capable of carrying 2.5 amps of current. Some electronic devices, such as video cameras and stereos, make use of C7 and C8 cables.
C9 and C10 cables utilise a two-prong connector capable of carrying a current of up to 6 amps. C9 refers to the female connector and C10 refers to the male connector. Some high end musical equipment use this form of cable.
C13 and C14 cables have three-prong connectors and are most often used as a means of connecting desktop computers and monitors to power sources. C13 refers to the female connector and C14 refers to the male connector. These cables are capable of carrying 10 amps of power.
C15 and C16 cables are another form of three-prong power cord. C15 refers to the female end of the cable, and C16 refers to the male end. These cables are capable of carrying 10 amps of power, but feature a higher temperature rating than most other IEC cables. This leads to their usage as a power cable for electric kettles, which leads to the nickname "kettle plugs."
C17 and C18 cables use two-prong connectors. C17 refers to the female connector and C18 refers to the male connector. These cables are capable of carrying 10 amps of power. These cords can be found providing power to some television sets as well as Xbox 360 video game consoles.
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