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Term Explanation Connector

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Explanation of IEC 60320 connector terms

The illustration below shows a possible component configuration, properly naming the various components which will be explained in detail further down, including the distinguishing characteristics.

Appliance Coupler

Appliance coupler means devices for connecting a flexible power cord to an appliance or another installation. You will find a product overview under ‘ ’. Appliance couplers essentially comprise the following components:

  • Connector

  • Appliance Inlet

Interconnection cords

Interconnection cords means structural units consisting of a flexible cord fitted with a plug and a connector built for interconnecting or disconnecting any appliance or installation with/from any other appliance or installation by means of a power cord. 

Rewireable plug and connectors

Rewireable plugs and connectors means structural units built to allow the flexible cord to be exchanged/replaced, colloquially referred to as ‘cord plugs/connectors’. That overview also includes the power plugs available.

Non-rewireable plug and connectors

Non-rewireable plugs and connectors means structural units which, in contrast to removable plug and connectors, are built to form an integrated, inseparable whole with the flexible cord. 

Power entry modules with or without filter

Means power entry modules (PEM), i.e. modules including different functional elements, such as:

• IEC appliance inlet / outlet

• switch including bowden cable actuation

• circuit breaker

• fuseholder

• voltage selector

• EMC filter

The advantages of PEM over individual components include:

• compact design

• only one product with electrically linked individual components

• efficient assembly

• alternative design options with similar dimensions

• Protected, assembled and already tested/approved power supply components

IEC appliance inlets / outlets

The IEC appliance inlets and outlets correspond to the individual components already presented in compliance with the IEC’s appliance couplers standards.

A specific approach is the shuttered outlet that protects unintended contact with life parts by movable protection shutters. They will be moved away by the insertion of the plug connector. The product is herewith ideally suitable to be used in applications to be used by children.

A special design is the protected outlet. The individual connections of a distribution unit can be limited by its power consumption by using a . The optional neon indicates the correct operation stage of the power line.


Ensuring the electromagnetic compliance (EMC) of specific appliances may necessitate the use of filter components, colloquially referred to as inlet filters or IEC inlet filters. Filters may also be used in addition to the PEM described above.

Distribution units

Means components used to, for instance, supply a multitude of appliances equipped with IEC appliance couplers with power from only one country-specific power supply cord via several interconnection cords.

Since, due to the lack of standards, distribution units have only limited UL and VDE approval, modular solutions assembled from approved individual components (inlets/outlets) have been made available. The applicable nominal voltage, the cord retainers and the necessary conductor cross-sectional areas (gauge) can be specifically selected depending on the relevant application area.


Protective caps or covers for appliance inlets and power entry modules prevent inadvertent contact with the live parts on the appliance’s interior. They are made from flexible plastic and can be pushed onto the components from the rear. Compatibility information on the various types of covers is available in a relevant data sheet.

Cord retaining clamps

Cord retaining clamps ensure firm push-on connections. The compatibility of the selected appliance couplers is imperative for reliable protection. You will find a detailed product overview on cord retaining clamps in the chapter "pullout prevention on pluggable power supplies".

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