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What Makes a Bad Power Cord Bad

Posted by jimsmits on May 21, 2018

At StayOnline, we have witnessed the scourge of bad cords firsthand. In the late 1990s, we were one of the first and few online vendors to sell power cords. Since that time, low-quality cords have flooded the marketplace. Everywhere you look cheap knockoffs are available. Power cords are a counterfeiter’s dream—easy to make, easy to fake and hard to trace. While the price of cheap power cords makes them tempting, long-term costs make them a questionable purchase. You get what you pay for and, if you’re powering mission-critical equipment, that may cost north of five figures. So saving a few bucks on low-grade cords can be pennywise but pound foolish. But what makes a bad power cord bad?

Bad power cords are either straight-up counterfeit or are manufactured by dodgy sources looking to cut corners to maximize profits.

The key to finding a good power cord is to source your products from a vendor who has an ISO9001:2015 certified QMS and who understands how the quality of materials affects the performance of the finished product.

4 Common Problems with Bad Power Cords

  1. Improper Conductivity—If you have a home built in the mid-1960s, you may be aware of the trouble with aluminum wire. Aluminum is an easy way for suspect manufacturers to cut corners because it is cheaper than copper. But aluminum has different chemical properties than copper and may overheat.
  2. Physical DamageCheaper materials like aluminum are more easily damaged than the materials required in a high-quality cord. Damaged wire can create hot spots which reduce efficiency and can result in overheating.
  3. Manufacturing Defects—Another common shortcut to save cost is skipping the high-potential and continuity tests that are required for a safe product. If a cord is wired incorrectly, a short can occur and bring a system down.
  4. Short Lifetime—Plugs made from reground PVC or jackets with no filler may need to be replaced more frequently than a quality power cord. In addition to replacement costs, cord failure can be dangerous and can cause costly downtime.

Counterfeit and cut-rate cords are becoming more and more common. Saving a few nickels when sourcing your cords may seem like a good idea, but not when you consider the big-picture costs and risks of bargain-basement cords. StayOnline has been a trusted source of power cords since our early days of eCommerce. And we’re serious about it. So much so that we have quality control agents inspecting our sources overseas and an ISO 9001:2015 certified QMS.