IEC connector

IEC connector is the common name for the type C13 plug and matching C14 socket defined by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) specification IEC 60320.

The proper name for the set of thirteen plugs (called the connector in the specification) and thirteen matching sockets (called the inlet) defined by this specification is IEC-320 Appliance Connectors. They include two and three-conductor plugs of various current capacities and temperature ratings, all designed specifically for the purpose of attaching a mains power cord to a piece of equipment.


C13 and C14 connectors

Almost all personal computers use the ten-amp panel-mounting C14 inlet socket to attach the mains cord to the power supply, as do many monitors, printers and other peripherals. Many computers also provide a panel-mounting C13 outlet for powering the monitor.

A three-conductor cord with a suitable power plug for the territory in which the appliance is used on one end and a C13 plug on the other is commonly called an IEC cord. IEC cords are used to power many other pieces of electronic equipment other than computers, for example instrument amplifiers and much professional audio equipment.

Missing image
Power cord featuring a CEE 7/7 plug at one end, and an IEC at the other.

C15 and C16 connectors

Many electric jugs and similar household appliances use a cord with a C15 plug, and a matching C16 inlet connector on the appliance. These are similar to the C13 and C14 combination but have a higher temperature rating, 120 degrees celsius rather than 70 degrees.

The C15 cord will fit the C14 receptacle, but the C13 will not fit the C16. That is, you can use a jug cord to power a computer, but not a computer cord to power a jug.

The C15 and C16 connectors have replaced and obsoleted the appliance plug in most applications.

Other IEC appliance connectors

The unpolarised C1 and C7 connectors are common on small cassette recorders and similar appliances. The polarised C5 connector is now commonly used on the AC side of laptop computer power supplies.

In each case, the matching socket is designated by the even number one greater than the odd number assigned to the plug, so a C1 fits a C2, and a C15A fits a C16A.

Most are polarised, the exceptions being the C1, C7 and C9 plugs. All have maximum temperature ratings of 70 degrees celsius unless noted.

  • C1 2-conductor 0.2A (unpolarised)
  • C3 2-conductor 2.5A
  • C5 3-conductor 2.5A
  • C7 2-conductor 2.5A (unpolarised)
  • C9 2-conductor 6A (unpolarised)
  • C11 2-conductor 10A
  • C13 3-conductor 10A
  • C15 3-conductor 10A (120 degree maximum temperature)
  • C15A 3-conductor 10A (155 degree maximum temperature)
  • C17 2-conductor 16A
  • C19 3-conductor 16A
  • C21 3-conductor 16A (155 degree maximum temperature)
  • C23 2-conductor 16A

There are some physical compatibilities not noted here.

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