Appliance couplers enable the use of standard inlets and country-specific cord sets which allow manufacturers to produce the same appliance for many markets, where only the cord set has to be changed for a particular market. Interconnection couplers allow a power supply from a piece of equipment or an appliance 2 slot non polarized power cord be made available to other equipment or appliances.
Couplers described under these standards have standardized current and temperature ratings. The parts of the couplers are defined in the standard as follows.
Connector: “part of the appliance coupler integral with, or intended to be attached to, one cord connected to the supply”. Appliance inlet: “part of the appliance coupler integrated as a part of an appliance or incorporated as a separate part in the appliance or equipment or intended to be fixed to it”.
Plug connector: “part of the interconnection coupler integral with or intended to be attached to one cord”. Appliance outlet: “part of the interconnection coupler which is the part integrated or incorporated in the appliance or equipment or intended to be fixed to it and from which the supply is obtained”. Cord set: “assembly consisting of one cable or cord fitted with one non-rewirable plug and one non-rewirable connector, intended for the connection of an electrical appliance or equipment to the electrical supply”. Interconnection cord set: “assembly consisting of one cable or cord fitted with one non-rewirable plug connector and one non-rewirable connector, intended for the interconnection between two electrical appliances”.
Although the terms “male” and “female” are sometimes applied to these connectors, the terms are not used in the standards themselves. Gender references for connectors actually refer only to the contacts, not the complete connectors. Male” refers to a pin contact and “female” to a socket contact. Connectors” and “appliance outlets” are fitted with socket contacts, and “appliance inlets” and “plug connectors” are fitted with pin contacts.
Each type of coupler is identified by a standard sheet number. For appliance couplers this consists of the letter “C” followed by a number, where the standard sheet for the appliance inlet is 1 higher than the sheet for the corresponding cable connector.
Many types of coupler also have common names. Kettle plug” is sometimes mistakenly used to refer to regular temperature-rated C13 and C14 connectors, which should not be used with heating appliances. Detachable appliance couplers are used in office equipment, measuring instruments, IT environments, and medical devices, among many types of equipment for worldwide distribution. Each appliance’s power system must be adapted to the different plugs used in different regions.
Instead, a country-specific power supply cord can be included in the product packaging, so that model variations are minimized and factory testing is simplified. Appliance manufacturing may be simplified by mounting an appliance coupler directly on the printed circuit board.
Assembly and handling of an appliance is easier if the power cord can be removed without much effort. The power supply cord can be replaced easily if damaged, because it is a standardized part that can be unplugged and re-inserted.
Safety hazards, maintenance expenditure and repairs are minimized. IEC 60320-1: General Requirements specifies two-pole and two-pole with earth couplers intended for the connection of a supply cord to electrical appliances. As from IEC 60320-1:2015 this part also applies to interconnection couplers which enable the connection and disconnection of an appliance to a cord leading to another appliance.
This part of the standard no longer includes standard sheets which have been moved to a new part first published in 2014: IEC 60320-3. IEC 60320-2-1: Sewing machine couplers specifies couplers which are not interchangeable with other couplers from IEC 60320, for use with household sewing machines. They are rated no higher than 2.