Originally referred to as the CEE-17 standard, IEC 60309 is an international standard from the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) for “plugs, socket-outlets and couplers for industrial purposes”. The maximum ratings for this standard are 1000VAC for voltage, 800A for current, and 500Hz for frequency.
Products of this standard will have an earth/ground pin (E), a neutral pin (N) and one or more pole (P). Most common are the P+N+E configuration, which is a single phase connector, and 3P+N+E, which is a three phase connector. In some devices such as a three-phase, however, a neutral pin is not required. Often the neutral pin, if present, is simply counted as one of the poles.
The pin configuration is followed by the location of earth/ground, which is written in terms of hours. An analog clock displays 12 hours, each evenly spaced by 30°. If we consider 12 as our reference (0°), then an earth/ground pin located 120° from this reference will be be at 4H. When describing the location of the earth pin, one must keep in mind that often the location of the female portion is what’s referenced. For example, a connector with a ground pin hour 3H will mate with a connector with plug pin hour 9H; however, when simply describing the connection and not the individual parts, the female ground pin hour will likely be the one described.
The IEC 60309 standard also utilizes a color code scheme to indicate operating voltages. The distinction is as follows:
Most common are Yellow (125V), Blue (250V) and Red (400V or 480V).
Each device comes with an Ingress Protection (IP) code, which describes the devices protection against intrusions such as fingers/tools, dust, water and chemicals. Most common are the IP44, which provides protection against solid particles >1mm such as slender screws or large ants in addition to the splashing of water, and the IP66 which is dust tight and protects against powerful water jets.
Most product groups include cable mounted plugs and connectors, as well as panel mounted, surface mounted and box mounted receptacles and inlets. Each product group, which is separated into their respective current/voltage ratings and pin configurations, will have these same basic device shapes. It is therefore very simple to determine what is needed once the current/voltage ratings required are known.
This series has become increasingly popular in the United States and Canada in the past 30 years. There are 2 series of this standard. Series I has ratings of 16, 32, 63, 125 Amps while series II has ratings of 20,30,60, 100 Amps. These devices are most likely found in North America for food applications, medical care, data centers, entertainment/lighting and other industries.
The most common arrangements are the yellow 2 pole and the yellow and red 3 pole. The blue P+N+E are common in British campsites as well as Danish. 240V are required for yacht marinas to function, which this can provide. In Europe they are also used for the same applications. Either the 16A or 32A version will be used depending on the specific scenario, however the 32A tends to be more popular. Shopping malls tend to make use of this blue P+N+E 32A devices, usually to power stalls which are not staying permanently. Lastly, it may be used to power outdoor devices such as gardening equipment or temporary lighting. The Yellow 2P+E 16A version is popular for the London Underground system of railways to power fans and other heavy-duty equipment. It also may be found in the UK, where it can connect workers to the 13A 240V mains supply for equipment often rated at 115V.
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