data center power cords

Power cord identification is more indispensable than you might think. Contractors, data center managers, and anyone else who works with electrical cables know the headache of identifying an individual cable in a mass of wiring. For efficiency and accuracy while working with electrical cables, it helps to learn various tips and tricks for identifying your power cords. It’s easier than you might assume; it only involves counting cable prongs and receptacles and accurately labeling cords. Keep reading to discover some quick tips for distinguishing the common power cable types.

Inspect the Number of Prongs

The number of prongs on a power cord is your first clue to identifying your cords quickly. NEMA 1-15P are common types of power cables that feature two-pronged plugs. The non-polarized version of this cord features two straight blades of equal width, while polarized plugs feature one prong that is wider than the other. NEMA 5-15P cords feature three-prong plugs, which are compatible with some of the most common extension cables and outlets. Three-prong plugs feature two blades of equal width and a longer, rounded ground pin. There are various other pronged connectors, such as those for appliances and electrical use. Look to their distinctive prongs for efficient identification.

Check the Receptacles

If the pronged end of your cable is hidden or out of reach, the receptacle end of a power cord will also help you identify the cable. It’s crucial to notice the distinctions between receptacles, especially when identifying what type of power cord you need for an outlet, appliance, or other application. The receptacles will match the plug type of the cord; however, this end will feature holes that accept prongs. For example, NEMA 1-15R cords feature two holes that match up to the two-prong plug type on the other end of the cable. NEMA 5-15R cables feature three-prong receptacles, and cables for electronics and appliances usually only feature connectors. Once you’ve identified your cables, you can organize them via labeling and using color coordination.

Label Your Different Types of Power Cords and Cables

If your data center power cords come in many similar colors and connectors or are constantly getting tangled, it may help to label your individual cables. Tracing your individual cables back to their units can be time-consuming. Consider using a label maker to create labels for your individual cables and their appliances. Even something as simple as printing the name of the cable or appliance on a strip of painter’s tape and attaching it to the outside of your cable can help you quickly identify them. Cord labeling is one of several best practices in cable management for your data center. 

Hopefully, these tips and tricks for identifying the different types of power cords have helped you understand some of the basic differences between common cord types. Use these tips to accurately identify cables on the job or keep your electrical wiring organized at home. Explore our blogs to learn more about power cord identification and other tips for keeping your data center organized.