Determining if Your Power Cord Adheres to International Standards

Electrical equipment manufacturers are increasingly selling their products to consumers worldwide.

plug adaptor

Some manufacturers try to “reconfigure” a cable or cord reel on their instruments for international use by assembling a different plug on the end of the cable.

However, end users may not know that the process of changing a European cord reel to a USA cord reel, or vice versa, is very often not done correctly, and the cord reels they purchase may not adhere to international standards, even though the manufacturers claim they are.

Significance of Adhering to International Standards

Cutting a plug off of a cord reel configured for use in the United States and re-assembling it with an international plug does not produce a cord reel that is compliant to international electrical safety standards.

Cord reel manufacturers who do this may be at risk of having their product not accepted or allowed into international markets because electrical equipment, such as cord reels, must conform to local regulatory standards in the country or region where they are intended to be used. European Union law, for example, dictates that manufacturers who place their products into European markets must evaluate their products against relevant EU Directives that apply to the product and its components.

Michael Andrews, Product Engineer at Hunter Spring Products

Hunter Spring Products is a key provider of mechanical and electrical retractable cord reels.

In the US, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) defines the accepted standard for cord reel safety under its UL-355 standard for cord reels, which generally applies only to cord reels designed for use in the US and Canada.

This independent global safety science company defines the specific wire types (also manufactured to UL standards) that are acceptable for application in cord reels, together with many other general reliability and safety prerequisites, while aligning its standards with US National Electric Code (NEC) requirements.

Outside of the US, IEC standards are generally applied to determine the safety of electrical equipment such as cord reels. In the European Union, electrical equipment manufacturers must adhere to all applicable EU directives (laws), including the RoHS2 Directive 2011/65/EU and the Low Voltage Directive (LVD 2014/35/EU).

Determining Adherence of Power Cords to International Standards

Manufacturers have to determine which requirements and standards within those directives are applicable to their instruments and self-certifying with the CE mark to affirm compliance with those directives.

The wire employed for international cord reels must adhere to the local wire and cable standards. It is necessary to certify power supply cord sets, such as cable and plug assembles for use in the specific regions they are used. Therefore, how can consumers be confident the cord reels they buy actually meet the standards and are correctly made for use in an intended country?

Always ask the manufacturer what cord is used, how the plugs are assembled, and if both cord and plug are certified in accordance to the standards relevant to the country. At Hunter Spring Products, we recently developed the DuraReel™, a unique series of medical-grade power cord reels that we extensively evaluated prior to launch to ensure compliance with all relevant international IEC standards required for CE marking. We did that to provide our users with a fully compliant cord reel solution for equipment sold anywhere in the world. By providing the CE mark and evaluating our power cords to make certain they are in accordance with international IEC standards, our customers are guaranteed the cord reels they purchase from Hunter Spring actually live up to those standards from plug to cord. And, that is the case with all of the power cord reels we sell.

Michael Andrews, Product Engineer at Hunter Spring Products

IEC 61242 is the standard for general use household and industrial use low voltage electrical cord reels and applies to the DuraReel cord reels under the EU Low Voltage Directive. Like UL 355 standard, IEC 61242 has different requirements, and mandates additional design considerations and evaluation.

Hunter Spring Products’ cord reels have been tested and found to adhere to both UL and IEC standards. The company’s international cord reels are fully compliant to all applicable EU directives. The cable and plug assemblies used by Hunter Spring Products are certified and qualified for use in the intended markets.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hunter Spring.

For more information on this source, please visit Hunter Spring.


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