A power cord can often get forgotten; usually, one of the first things asked when troubleshooting is, “is it plugged in?” Yes, we all know that a power cord gives your device life, but how much do you really know about power cords and the correct one to suit your needs?
Let’s start with the basic elements of a power cord. On your average three-prong plug, the top two prongs are your hot and neutral. These are what give you electricity. The third prong, located on the bottom, is your ground. The ground is what keeps someone safe from an electrical accident. The ground directs the electricity back to the breaker panel and away from you should a shock occur. This is a key feature in device safety and one that should be taken seriously. At TRH Services, we test the quality of ground to your device and inform you when it’s time to change your power cord. Just because it doesn’t look broken or damaged doesn’t mean it’s safe.
If your power cord is broken or damaged and you need to install a new one, it is important to know the current that the device draws so that the proper cord is installed. For your typical device, an 18 AWG (American Wire Gauge) power cord is safe to use as it can handle up to 10 amps. A 14 AWG power cord would be used for devices that draw more current such as an autoclave, hydrocollator or treadmill, as they can handle up to 15 amps. It is important to use the correct gauge power cord because if you use the wrong gauge, the cord will become hot and pose a serious fire risk.
Another important safety element of a power cord typically found in medical devices and patient care environments are the green dot, which symbolizes that the cord is hospital grade. A hospital-grade power cord is required for all equipment that comes in contact with a patient. Hospital-grade power cords are made to withstand a higher pull force from your outlet and are more durable thanks to their solid prongs and larger plug end. These kinds of power cords also provide a constant grounding which is ensured through testing. Hospital-grade power cords have been designed to keep patients safe, and they are required in all medical settings, whether it be a doctor’s office, dentist’s office, or physiotherapy office.
Written by: Austin Rublik
Edited by: Tyler Hasenpflug CET