Only Connect: On good design and the IEC connector

Welcome to another post in the series by Nick Locke, of Nicab Ltd, who has over 15 years experience in the electronics manufacturing industry specialising in interconnection cable assembly.

IEC 60320 connector series

IEC 60320 connector series

If you use power then you use the IEC connector. It’s been around for a while now, since 1970 to be precise. A good design stands the test of time, that’s why they are still around. They do the job really well.

There is usually a little confusion around the connector types and their uses. So to keep things simple for this blog I am only going to talk about the IEC 60320 series. That’s the C-Series to you and me!

Here is a list of connectors and their common uses:

  • C1/C2 connector used on electric shavers and other low voltage devices not in use so much these days, normally replaced by the DC connector.
  • C5/C6 connector (Clover Leaf or Mickey Mouse) used on laptop power supplies and portable projectors, and on the Apple desktop computer iMac G4.
  • C7/C8 connector often used for small cassette recorders, battery / mains operated radios, some full size audio-visual equipment, laptop computer power supplies, video game consoles, and similar double-insulated appliance
  • C13/C14 connector, the most popular of all power connectors. Most desktop computers use the fifteen-amp panel-mounting C14 inlet to attach the power cord to the power supply, as do many monitors, printers and other peripherals
  • C15/C16 connector used by some electric kettles. Similar hot household appliances like home stills use a supply cord with a C15 connector, and a matching C16 inlet on the appliance; their temperature rating is 120°C rather than the 70°C of the similar C13/C14 combination. The official designation in Europe for the C15/C16 connector is a ‘hot condition’ connector.
  • C19/C20 connector Earthed, 16A, polarized. This connector is used for some IT applications where higher currents are required, as for instance, on high-power workstations and servers, UPSs, PDUs, large network routers and switches and similar equipment. It is rectangular and has pins parallel to the long axis of the connector face.

So there you have it, IEC connectors explained. I hope you found this guide useful and has gone some way to making sense of all the connectors out there!

Nick Locke, Nicab Ltd

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