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What is a NEMA 5-15 Plug?

What is a NEMA 5-15 Plug?

The NEMA 5-15 plug is one of the North American standards for powering electrical devices.

Regulated by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the NEMA connectors can handle both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), with power consumption ranging 15 amps at 125 volts all the way up to 50 amps at 250 volts.

Before the NEMA system was established, other types of connectors had varying voltages, current capacity, grounding, and pin positions.

So, the association stepped in to standardize these plugs to regulate electrical supplies, devices, and manufacturers.

These plugs are capable of delivering 15 amps, which makes them compatible with electrical appliances like air conditioners.

Types of NEMA connectors for electrical devices

NEMA system connectors connect electronic devices to the power supply. They're used for Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC). There are different types of connectors based on different ratings.

There are two basic classifications of NEMA connectors: locking connectors and non-locking connectors.

Locking connectors, as the name suggests, have a locking mechanism that prevents accidental disconnection of devices.

They have two curved blades that you can twist and fix in place when inserted to the electrical outlet.

Most locking plugs are designed for industrial and commercial settings, with miniature versions designed for receptacles not able to handle the larger type connector.

Meanwhile, non-locking plugs have two blades and may or may not include a ground pin.

NEMA connectors can also be classified as grounded or ungrounded connectors.

Grounded connectors have extra power that goes to the ground away from your electrical appliances.

This wiring helps avoid power surges that may lead to electric shock or overload.

Ungrounded plugs have two pins, while grounded plugs have an extra pin positioned above the two to prevent metal objects from touching the hot line.

What is a NEMA 5-15 connector and how does it work?

A NEMA connector rated 5-15 can support voltages up to 125V.

The number "5" represents the voltage rating and configuration.

If you want to use electrical devices at 250 volts, you'll have to use a NEMA connector with a different configuration like the NEMA 6-16.

The full name of a NEMA connector represents the rating of the connector and socket pattern.

Each number and letter describes how the connector works.

The first number in the NEMA connector naming convention represents its voltage level:

  • “1” means a rating of 125 volts, Class II (ungrounded)

  • “5” means a rating of 125 volts, Class I (grounded)

  • “6” means a rating of 250 volts, Class I (grounded)

The number after the hyphen signifies the amperage rating, ranging from 15 to 60 amps.

You'll also notice two letters, one at the beginning and one at the end of the name.

The first letter, usually "L", is for the locking configurations. For example:

  • 5-15R means 125V, Class 1, 15A receptacle

  • L5-15P means Locking, 125V, Class 1, 15A connector

Meanwhile, the letter after the amperage rating - which could either be "P" or "R" - indicates whether the cord is a receptacle or a plug. So, "P" is for the plug and "R" is for the receptacle.

The major difference between these two NEMA Standards is their amperage ratings.

As the names suggest, the 5-15 has a power consumption of 15 amps, while the 5-20 has 20 amps.

Compared to the 5-15, the 5-20 connector has its neutral blade rotated 90° and shifted, making its inner edge around half an inch away from the hot blade.

5-20 is used for any electric appliance needing a higher power draw, such as large refrigerators, space heaters, and more.

For your convenience, 5-20 sockets are designed to accommodate both the 5-15 and 5-20 power plugs.

On the other hand, you can use 5-15 plug adapters to convert your 5-15 sockets to 5-20 ports.

FAQs

What is a NEMA 5-15P type?

The NEMA 5-15 is a three-wire, two-blade connector with a ground pin. They are capable of delivering both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), with the power consumption of 15 amps at 125 volts. This makes these plugs compatible with electrical appliances like air conditioners.

What is the difference between NEMA 5-15 and 5-15P?

They're essentially the same. The NEMA follows a naming system for its plugs and receptacles. The first number represents the voltage level, while the second number is for the amperage rating. The letter at the end - which could either be "P" or "R" - indicates whether the cord is an outlet or a plug. So, "P" is for the plug, and "R" is for the receptacle. Meanwhile, the letter in the beginning, usually "L", is for the locking configurations. So, in this case, NEMA 5-15 could either be a plug or an outlet, while the 5-15P clearly indicates it's a plug.

Can NEMA 5-15 handle 240v?

The NEMA 5-15 is rated for 125V and is incompatible with 250V. Using this in a 240V application can be dangerous. For your safety, only use the 5-15 connector with the appropriate voltage.

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