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Does Your Cord Reel (Really) Live Up to International Standards?

Does Your Cord Reel (Really) Live Up to International Standards?
Today’s electrical equipment manufacturers increasingly are selling their products to end users worldwide. Some manufacturers have been known to attempt to “reconfigure” a cable or cord reel on their equipment for international use by assembling a different plug on the end of the cable. 

End users, however, may not be aware that the process of changing a USA cord reel to a European cord reel, or vice versa, very often is not done correctly, and the cord reels they buy may not be up to international standards, even though the manufacturer states they are.

“Cutting a plug off of a cord reel configured for use in the United States and re-assembling it with an international plug does not produce a cord reel that is compliant to international electrical safety standards,” states Michael Andrews, Product Engineer for Hunter Spring Products, a leader in mechanical and electrical retractable cord reels. 

“Cord reel manufacturers who do this may be at risk of having their product not accepted or allowed into international markets because electrical equipment, such as cord reels, must conform to local regulatory standards in the country or region where they are intended to be used,” adds Andrews. “European Union law, for example, dictates that manufacturers who place their products into European markets must evaluate their products against relevant EU Directives that apply to the product and its components.”

In the United States, the accepted standard for cord reel safety is defined by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), an independent global safety science company, under its UL-355 standard for cord reels, which generally applies only to cord reels intended for use in the United States and Canada. UL defines the specific wire types (also made to UL standards) that are acceptable for use in cord reels, along with many other general safety and reliability requirements, while aligning its standards with US National Electric Code (NEC) requirements.

Outside of the United States, IEC standards generally are used to evaluate the safety of electrical equipment, including cord reels.  Within the European Union, manufacturers of electrical equipment must conform to all applicable EU directives (laws), including the Low Voltage Directive (LVD 2014/35/EU) and the RoHS2 Directive 2011/65/EU. 

Manufacturers are responsible for determining which standards and requirements within those directives are applicable to their equipment and self-certifying with the CE mark to declare conformity with those directives.

The wire used for international cord reels must conform to the local wire and cable standards. Power supply cord sets (cable and plug assemblies) must be certified for use within the specific regions they are used. 

So how can end users be certain the cord reels they purchase actually live up to the standards and are correctly manufactured for use in an intended country? 

“Always ask the manufacturer what cord is used, how the plugs are assembled, and if both cord and plug are certified in accordance to the standards relevant to the country,”
advises Andrews.
“At Hunter Spring Products, we recently developed the DuraReel™, a unique series of medical-grade power cord reels that we extensively evaluated prior to launch to ensure compliance with all relevant international IEC standards required for CE marking. We did that to provide our users with a fully compliant cord reel solution for equipment sold anywhere in the world,” notes Andrews. 

“By providing the CE mark and evaluating our power cords to make certain they are in accordance with international IEC standards, our customers are guaranteed the cord reels they purchase from Hunter Spring actually live up to those standards from plug to cord. And, that is the case with all of the power cord reels we sell.” 

IEC 61242 is the standard for general use household and industrial use low voltage electrical cord reels, which apply to the DuraReel cord reels under the EU Low Voltage Directive. While similar to UL 355, IEC 61242 has different requirements and, therefore, requires additional design considerations and evaluation.

All cord reels manufactured by Hunter Spring Products have been evaluated and found to conform to both UL and IEC standards. its international cord reels are fully compliant with all applicable EU directives. It only uses cable and plug assemblies that are certified and approved for use in the intended markets.

About the DuraReel Series

DuraReel power cord reels are designed specifically for medical applications. The DuraReel is the only medical cord reel on that market that has been tested specifically in environments containing Escherichia Coli (E Coli) and Staphylococcus (Staph) microorganisms. All contact surfaces, such as the housing, ball stop, and retractable cord and plug, have been molded with an antimicrobial additive that will not wash off or diminish over time.

DuraReel power cord reels are a perfect complement to mobile equipment such as mobile x-ray carts, mobile lighting carts, telemedicine carts, and other types of mobile workstations, offering an aesthetic and ergonomic solution to power and data cable management needs.