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  5. Using a NEMA 5-15 Power Cord in Other Countries

Interpower’s Answers to Commonly Asked Questions—Using a NEMA 5-15 Power Cord in Other Countries

At the Interpower Group of Companies, we have real people answering the phones. No recorded messages. As a result, we receive a number of interesting product design questions. Usually if a question has been asked by one person, it means that others also have the same question. So to assist you, we will be sharing a few of the commonly asked questions, complete with answers. Be sure to follow our series, “Interpower’s Answers to Commonly Asked Questions.”

Why can’t I use a NEMA 5-15 power cord in other countries?

Key points:

Ron Barnett, Product Development Manager, explained the purpose of a NEMA 5-15 power cord.

“First of all, the NEMA 5-15 is intended for use in North America. The NEMA Nomenclature used by UL and CSA states that a NEMA 5-15 be used only up to 125 volts. The ‘5’ signifies the voltage rating, but more specifically the voltage configuration. If you wish to use a North American plug that is UL and/or CSA approved at 250 volts, you will need to use a different configuration other than the standard NEMA 5-15, such as the NEMA 6-15,” Barnett explained.

Barnett acknowledged that some countries, such as the Philippines who have not yet standardized their electrical regulations, allow the use of the NEMA 5-15 at 220VAC, but companies need to be cautious with this. He emphasized that companies shipping equipment should use due diligence in testing the power cord to make sure there are no safety issues involved by using it at 220V.

NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) has set standards so that consistency and safety can be achieved. A system has been set up to standardize the description and rating of plug and socket patterns.

The first number determines the voltage level:

The second number is a system of identifying the amperage ratings: 15 to 60 amps.

The “L” at the beginning of a number refers to a locking configuration.

For example:

To see a list of the NEMA configurations, see Interpower’s chart Connect to North America.

If you have other questions, Interpower offers free technical support. You can check the website at, e-mail (United States) or (United Kingdom) or contact Customer Service in the United States at (800) 662-2290 or in the United Kingdom at +44 (0)1908 295300.

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