Most of North America, and some of South America, use connectors standardised by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. The devices are named using the format NEMA n-mmX, where n is an identifier for the configuration of pins and blades, mm is the maximum amperage, and X is either P (plug) or R (receptacle). For example, NEMA 5-15R is a configuration type 5 receptacle supporting 15 amps. “P” and “R” versions are designed to be mated. The prefix “L” is added for the locking types; a 15 amp 120 volt two pole grounding plug is designated NEMA L5-15P. Twist-locking types are used for additional protection from accidental disconnection, or to prevent interchange with parallel blade types For some configurations, the arrangement of pins will differ slightly for the different current ratings, to prevent accidental mating of devices with a higher current draw than the receptacle can support.
A brief description of some common NEMA standards plugsappears below. A more comprehensive list, with more detail.
|NEMA 1-15P Plug|
NEMA-1 plugs are compatible with both NEMA-1 receptacles and NEMA-5 receptacles; NEMA-1 is ungrounded (no earth), while NEMA 5 is grounded. The plug has two parallel blades. Early versions were not polarized, but most plugs are polarized today via a taller neutral blade on the plug that fits a wider neutral slot on the receptacle. (Unpolarized AC adapters are a common exception.) Ungrounded NEMA-1 outlets are not permitted in new building construction in the United States and Canada, but can still be commonly found in older construction. Allowed replacement of NEMA-1 receptacles varies by local code.
The NEMA 5-15 plug has two flat parallel blades like NEMA 1-15, but also adds a ground (earth) pin. It is rated 15 A at 125 volts. The ground (earth) pin is longer than the line and neutral blades, so the device is grounded before the power is connected. Both current-carrying blades on grounding plugs are normally narrow, since the ground (earth) pin enforces polarity. NEMA 1-15 plugs are also compatible with NEMA 5-15 sockets.
|NEMA 5-15P Plug|
The 5-15 socket is standard in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Panama. It is also used in Central America, the Caribbean, northern South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and, as a legacy, parts of Brazil), Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. This socket is recommended in IEC standard 60906-2 for 120 volt 60 Hz installations. Looking directly at a NEMA 5-15 socket in the commonly found orientation of ground (earth) at the bottom, the neutral slot is on the left, and the line slot is on the right. However, in the US the National Electrical Installation Standards (NECA 130-2010) specifies that the ground hole should be on top. Sideways installation is also permitted; in this case, NECA 130-2010 specifies the neutral (long) slot is on top. In 46 of the 50 United States and all of Canada, tamper-resistant sockets are now required in new residential construction. These prevent contact by objects like keys or paper clips inserted into the socket. In stage lighting, this connector is sometimes known as PBG for Parallel Blade with Ground (earth), Edison or Hubbell, the name of a common manufacturer.
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