Deciphering Amperage Ratings

There are two important points to keep in mind

     

The Technical Support Team here at Anderson Power Products® regularly receives questions regarding the suitability of the amperage ratings.  

A common question is “How can a Powerpole® PP15-45 be rated 40A on a multi-conductor #10 AWG cable when NEC (National Electric Code) restricts current to 30A on a #10 AWG?”

There are two important points to keep in mind when reviewing the ratings of any electrical component: Safety Standards and Capability vs Suitability.

Safety Standards

Electrical components, like connectors, are used in a broad array of global applications.  Each region or country can have different standards & requirements for the same application. Connectors have two groups of the standards for regions and applications:

  1. Dimensional and Performance Normative Standards

This defines the critical dimensions and performance attributes of specific connectors. These standards are intended to ensure interoperability between different manufacturers of the same connector type and that they are certified to the same standard.  Examples include UL 498 and IEC 60309.

Often these standards are created with a specific application in mind and the component certification can carry an automatic determination of suitability when used in equipment that is certified to the device or application standard.  Examples of this include IEC 60320 connections used in UL / IEC 60950 certified server, or VDE DIN 0632-589 connections used in an EN 1175-1 compliant fork truck.

  1.  General Performance Standards

Provides a test plan to assess the capabilities of a connector component not built to a dimensional & performance standard.   General performance standards do not have an automatic determination of suitability; rather they have a “generic acceptability” within conditions. Examples include UL 1977 and IEC 61984.

Most of these conditions are based on testing that was performed; however, the primary condition is that the connector must be evaluated for suitability in the “end application”. General performance standards include a variety of defined test procedures to assess capabilities in amperage, voltage, and environmental categories. They often reference known points in other safety standards to ensure broad compliance with a variety of regional and application specific standards.   An example of this is UL 1977 referencing UL 94 for flammability.

 

Capability vs. Suitability

General performance standards are designed to test capability for the “widest” possible range of application usages. As a result, the ratings are often higher than a particular regional and application standard.  If the general performance standard capability rating meets or exceeds the suitability rating of the regional/ application standard, then typically the connector will be determined suitable by the certifying agency for the region/ application.

 

This brings us back to our Powerpole® 15-45 question. “How can a Powerpole® PP15-45 be rated 40A on a multi-conductor #10 AWG cable when NEC restricts current to 30A on a #10 AWG?”

NEC (National Electric Code) defines the electrical code for commercial and residential electrical infrastructure (the building itself) in the United States. A Powerpole® 15-45 wire assembly would not necessarily be subject to NEC limitations if it were used “inside” of a piece of equipment (server, UPS, etc.). Here the equipment safety standard such as UL / IEC 60950 would define the measurement for acceptability. Depending on where the connection is used in a device the NEC restrictions may still be indirectly applicable. For instance, UL / IEC 60950 references UL 817 for power cords for plugging into building infrastructure. UL 817 in turn derives its amperage limits by conductor size from NEC.


In summary, what should the amperage rating for a connector certified to General Performance Standards be? It depends of course on a number of facets not limited to: how the component is being used, the type of equipment it is used in, the countries the equipment will be operated in, the applicable safety agency standards, relevant national codes, and the capability of the component per the manufacturer.

 

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We hope you enjoyed learning about Amperage Ratings.  If you would like more information, please contact our Technical Support.

                     
Rick Loveless
Global Marketing Manager
Anderson Power Products

 

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