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#215857 - 08/02/15 06:22 AM Alright, enough of the fixed cords...  
LongRunner  Offline
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 47
Albany, Western Australia
Seriously, I can't think of a good reason for everyday home appliances to still be equipped with fixed cords today, 45 years and counting since the IEC (60)320 family was introduced. At least, not in 220-240V regions.

I already evaluated the possible reasons in this thread on Hardware Insights (my favourite technology review site to date, albeit a small one; along with being a forum moderator, I have the role of QCing content on the main site), eight months ago. Given that copper supplies are running out, breaking from the tradition of including the cords in the appliance package is quite overdue (IMO). Mind you, it's sad to see people ridiculing those (few) companies that choose not to continue with this rather wasteful practice, and had it been stopped in due course (which would have been the '80s or so), then we might have avoided (or at least minimised) the recent trend to stiffer cords in the interests of "economy".

Granted, consumerism is a disaster either way, but continuing with the fixed (and bundled) cords isn't helping. Anyway, here are some example loads that could use the connectors, but haven't (at least not that I'm aware of):
  • C5/C6 (2.5A, Class I, 70C): Energy-saving lamps (especially with electronic drivers), soldering stations
  • C7/C8 (2.5A, Class II, 70C): Lamps (incandescent including halogen, and some magnetically-ballasted fluorescent types), portable fans, mains-operated clocks, blenders, etc.
  • C13/C14 (10A, Class I, 70C): Convection heaters (including oil-filled column types), toasters, dishwashers, fridges and freezers, microwave ovens, and more.
  • C15/C16 (10A, Class I, 120C): Radiant heaters
  • C15A/C16A (10A, Class I, 155C): Clothes irons
  • C17/C18 (10A, Class II, 70C): Double-insulated convection heaters (especially fan heaters), hair-dryers
Yeah, they're pretty much as versatile as Lego.

Incidentally, this is the repair I made to a F&P E331T after rodents chewed up most of it some months ago; so far no further damage. (I'm not sure if "by-the-book" inspectors would let it pass, but done competently, it can't be more dangerous than the flammable R-600a refrigerant used in current politically correct fridges. crazy)

Even the long-neglected C9/C10 (6A, Class II, 70C; it's the rectangular one with 2 parallel pins) might just see a new lease of life, as ideal for hair-dryers up to 1440W @ 240V. (It's still a rather doubtful proposition, though; I don't know if you can even obtain new C9 cords anywhere.)

At this rate, I wouldn't consider it unreasonable simply to force the everyday appliances (in 230V regions, anyway) to use the IEC inlets, and to disallow bundled cords. Any questions?

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#215858 - 08/02/15 12:44 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Speaking from the limited experience of an American, I'm just a little perplexed by your terminology.

What are 'fixed cords?' Are you describing appliances that have power brought to them by directly connecting a length of some sort of flexible cord, without bothering to have a plug / receptacle anywhere. An arrangement where the cord is screwed to both the appliance and the building?

Are 'bundled cords' the same thing?

If so, that practice is largely unknown here. The only appliances you're likely to see directly hooked up to a cable coming out of the wall are the water heater, the dishwasher, and the garbage disposal under the kitchen sink.

Some appliances - notably clothes dryers and kitchen ranges - come without cords, but you are expected to buy a 'pigtail.' a cord with the appropriate plug at one end. I expect this practice persists, as there are multiple plug patterns used.

Oddly enough, this board has had extensive discussions regarding the use of 'pigtails' in place of the fixed cord on dishwashers and water heaters. In both of those discussions - and they are very different discussions! - the bias appears to be that these appliances are supposed to be hooked up using some form of metal-jacketed flexible wiring method. Our rating organization (UL) considers the use of a pigtail to almost always be a violation of the listing of the product.

Hot water circulating pumps are specifically allowed to use corded plug 'pigtails.' There's still plenty of debate concerning the 'igniters' on some gas appliances.

I am inclined to agree that 'fixed cords' are a bad idea. Yes, sometimes you want there to be flexibility between the appliance and the structure. Having a plug / receptacle certainly allows for easy disconnection of the appliance. ("Hard wire" an appliance, and the only place to disconnect it is often at the panel).

I also do not like it when I find a length of the building wire ("Romex") simply poking through a hole in the wall. Sometimes this cable simply has a length of flexible metal conduit slipped over it, and plenty of folks here approve of that- while objecting to the use of a corded plug!

There is a view, often shared by UL, that if an appliance is supposed to use a cord & plug, it would have come that way from the factory. I don't agree with that view .... but I'm in the minority.

#215859 - 08/02/15 12:55 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
LongRunner  Offline
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 47
Albany, Western Australia
I just meant cords fixed to the appliances, but that are plugged into normal outlets; and by "bundled" cords, I meant when they include an IEC 60320 cordset with the device (so users, inevitably, end up with extras).

#215863 - 08/02/15 05:34 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
I see.

The only place I've ever seen the IEC 60320 is on the back of my computer monitor. Since our power is 120v, I can only see problems should this become a 'standard' for appliances in general.

So ... you prefer that appliances have a socket on them, and you use an entirely separate cord to connect the appliance to the wall receptacle?

That's an interesting way to do things. Over here, there are all manner of rules that specify exactly how long the cord can be for each appliance. For example, toasters are limited to 2-ft, garage door openers to 3-ft., and (recent change) dishwashers to 6-ft. All these rules become useless if the customer is expected to supply the cord.

Another detail that is part of each UL listing is an examination of the size of the conductors in the cord. For example, a table lamp has a much lighter-duty cord than my window-mounted air conditioner- even though both can use the same circuit.

We also have a variety of appliances that we require to have special protections built into the plugs. Air conditioners get "LCDI's," hair dryers get "IDCI's," and my 3-way power tap has a "GFCI" plug. Heaven alone knows what the differences are!

I also notice that a number of things have these stout plastic sausage-like things attached to the cords. I'm not entirely sure what these things do, but someone figured they were important enough to spend $$$$ adding them. (One theory claims they are 'chokes' designed to improve 'power quality.') I don't know what would happen if you were to operate the appliance without the magic widget.

#215865 - 08/04/15 12:03 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: renosteinke]  
LongRunner  Offline
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 47
Albany, Western Australia
Yes, for the appliance and cord(s) to be treated as separate entities is what I meant. And I can indeed understand it being a bad idea with 120V, not least because, if we go by the IEC's current ratings, you'd be limited to:
  • C5/C6 and C7/C8: 2.5 120 = 300W
  • C9/C10: 6 120 = 720W
  • C13/C14, C15/C16, C15A/C16A, C17/C18: 10 120 = 1200W
  • C19/C20, C21/C22, C23/C24: 16 120 = 1920W
Well, the UL and CSA are willing to give significantly higher current ratings, but I wouldn't trust those, personally.

However, the possibility of adding 240V outlets (NEMA 6-15 or 6-20) in new US/Canadian houses has been discussed here before - not that I expect it to actually happen any time soon. (I don't know if "tamper-resistant" versions of them exist, though.)

The cylindrical objects mounted to some cords are ferrite cores, yes.

Last edited by LongRunner; 08/04/15 12:07 PM.

#215868 - 08/04/15 11:46 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,085
6-15s and 6-20s are not required to be T/R. I agree I was interested in the kettles but after I got home, it occurred to me I don't drink tea. At least I don'[t drink hot tea and you can make iced tea without boiling water.

Greg Fretwell

#215869 - 08/05/15 10:44 AM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
HotLine1  Offline

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,832
Brick, NJ USA
My wife bought a 120 volt tea kettle, and it does a good job for the infrequent times we use it.

I have had a few homeowners who have 240 volt, 20 amp receptacles (6-20s) installed that they use for appliances.

The ECs installed GF breakers on the branch circuit, based on the countertop locations.


#215877 - 08/06/15 09:43 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,085
I have to admit the 240v (2kw) kettles are impressive.
Evidently the Brits and their offspring down under are pretty impatient when it comes to their tea.
The delta on a liter of water is over 50 degrees a minute.
You can boil it in about 2 and a half minutes from room temp water.
It goes a lot faster if you only make a cup or two at a time.
We were in a hotel room and I cooked hot dogs in an empty beer can by filling it with boiling water a couple times.

Greg Fretwell

#215881 - 08/07/15 02:53 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: LongRunner]  
Texas_Ranger  Offline
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,397
Vienna, Austria
To be honest I'm not really happy with the thought of IEC inlets on handheld tools, kitchen stuff etc. The connectors would necessarily make everything bulkier and I'm absolutely sure it wouldn't reduce the amount of copper being used as manufacturers would very likely still throw one (or even several) IEC cords into the box.

#215883 - 08/07/15 03:34 PM Re: Alright, enough of the fixed cords... [Re: gfretwell]  
geoff in UK  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 183
"We were in a hotel room and I cooked hot dogs in an empty beer can by filling it with boiling water a couple times." [/quote]

Were the local restaurants really so bad? Please let me know where you were so I can avoid it!

Last edited by geoff in UK; 08/07/15 03:35 PM.

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