Portable Cord vs Power Cable | Product Knockout

“Our Product Knock-out series is a match-up between two similar products. In boxing terms, think same weight class, same caliber, and same level of experience and amount of exposure. The purpose of these posts are for you to see a side-by-side view of two similar products, and to be able to understand which one will be crowned champ for your specific purposes. Take your seats and prepare for battle, because the gloves are coming out.”

Often you’ll see portable cord and power cable categorized together in wire and cable catalogs, and maybe you’ve wondered what the difference is between these two cables. Portable cord and power cable share the same primary function — to transmit electrical power. But what’s the key distinction between cord and cable? Let’s compare.

What is portable cord?

Portable cord has two or more conductors and is best suited for temporary supply applications requiring flexibility. A standard cord has at least two bare copper conductors, but the stranding, insulation, and jacket type vary according to the intended usage.

Portable power cable offers multiple jacket options which determine the cord’s physical properties and the kind of use it can endure. All portable cord weathers well in extreme environments and is resistant to oil, chemicals, and abrasion, but some jacket materials are hardier and rated as resistant to water and other hazards as well.

A portable cord’s jacket type is easily discerned from the cable’s exterior, thanks to a coding system involving a series of letters that helps identify the construction of the cable, as well as its applications. The same letter codes also indicate the voltage. The standard “S” stands for “service” and means that the cable is rated to 600 volts. That is, unless it’s accompanied by a letter with a different associated voltage. “J” stands for “junior service” and means a 300 volt rating. So while portable cords like SOOW and SJOOW cables share many common attributes, you can tell just by their names that SOOW cord is equipped for harder service than its junior counterpart.

SOOW Portable Cord

SOOW Portable Cord

SJOOW Portable Cord

SJOOW Portable Cord

With a wide range of commercial, industrial, indoor, outdoor, and residential uses, portable cord is ideal for appliances and small tools, and even for construction equipment and marine electrical applications. When used in motors or appliances, portable cord is also called “service cord.”

What is a power cable?

Unlike portable cord, power cables are designed for permanent use and may be installed as overhead wiring or exposed wiring, and can even be used in direct burial applications. Power cable is constructed of one or more electrical conductors with a covering, and is available in various constructions, materials, and ratings for many different applications.

DLO Power Cable

DLO Power Cable

Power cables are commonly used in electric utility, industrial, and commercial markets. You can find power cables in diesel electric locomotives as DLO cables, oil and gas drilling rigs, motor leads, power supply systems, shipyards, and some mining applications. Low-voltage applications include thermostat controls, heating and A/C installations, signal systems, and intercoms, among others.

The Difference Between Portable Cord and Power Cable

These two cables serve similar purposes, but the most important distinction to remember is that portable cord is designed for temporary power supply, while power cables are usually installed in long-term or permanent applications.

“Winner by unanimous vote? Instead, it seems as if the match has ended in a technical decision. In this case it looks like our crowned champ depends on your specific application use.”

If you’re still not sure if you need portable cord or power cable, let Allied help you out! Compare full portable cord and power cable specs for yourself or ask an expert by emailing info@awcwire.com.

About awcwire
Allied Wire & Cable is a value-added manufacturer and distributor of electrical wire and cable, tubing, and more. We are a family owned and operated company, serving a wide range of industries, including the military, automotive, aerospace, and telecommunications markets. Allied is headquartered in Collegeville, PA. Additional locations can be found across the US, in Merrimack, NH, Tampa, FL, Pewaukee, WI, and Las Vegas, NV. For more information on Allied, visit our main website at www.awcwire.com.

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