15 Amp, 3 pin or not?


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After reading through another forum, and looking at some of the dimmers mentioned in it, i wondered whether in America all stage lights were fitted with "Kettle lead" IEC type cords, or whether it was only the cheap ones...

I apologise if this is simply my ignorance, but In England we always use 3 round pin, 15A plugs.

Thanks for your help and enlightenment!
Some Lowel Lighting locational lighting fixtures have IEC cords on them. www.lowel.com I would not call them cheap. I believe a few other movie/location lights have IEC panel mount plugs on them also.

I suppose it's for portability of the fixtures. Don't know why, the (not available in high-temperature) IEC panel mount constantly becomes brittle with the heat and breaks so I replace them with cord mount strain reliefs.

IEC plugs are if anyting normally found on the fixture itself and not as a plug on the end of a cord.
Thought you might have been from the UK given the “kit” post. It is funny as I was born in the UK and the term kit is such an generic term that I knew exactly what you meant but just couldn’t post an explanation.

Anyhow – my advice is not to even attempt to figure out what plugs are used on US fixtures! It has taken me almost 2 years of reading on this forum and also gaining some hands on that allows me to identify a small proportion of their plugs.

Unlike the UK and Australia, there seems to be several different types of plug and each type has a number of variations. I was actually surprised to see how confusing the system can be. Whilst it is probably not confusing to the Americans, it certainly was to me.

I worked on a show yesterday that had mostly US gear on it and I saw twist lock plugs, Edison plugs and stage pin plugs. Although, I only saw the twist lock and Edison plugs in use. There were also cam locks in use, but we also use them here.

I agree with what ship said about the IEC plugs and I am also not a fan of them due to the ease with which they can come loose and cause arching inside the plug. I use to have a guitar amp with an IEC panel mount socket on it and I replaced it with a blanking plate and cable gland as the vibrations on stage would cause it to work loose.
I joke in this but it's something world wide these days in learning to deal with and excell at in converting.

Just as with my past era of military where we did not need name plates sewn to our blouces so as to remember our name, sorry the American system does not use color codes so as to best know which plug is for what voltage class. inow stock yellow and blue amongst other V shaped and otherwise odd Euro or down under types of plug. This amongst other things that might seem hard to even most of us but is for the most part as simple for you as I. I am not apologetic to us who don't understand the NEMA code or that of the 2P&G or to foreigners in making sense of such systems. Just as I must learn some Euro or other system, you must learn ours as part of your own job. Sorry but that's life. Get used to other systems because more and more you will see gear coming from the states or headed here or other places in the world.

You will in time also be required to convert the lamps of such fixtures from one system to another. Hmm, I say BWF, you say CP-53. Start learning the conversion as it will be even more difficult yet in making a system work. Often a Euro or Amerian lamp or fixture but especially the Euro ones that can't be done without will need some modification will darken your doorway in now needing to work in your own country. This in spite of no conversion lamp available that uses that type of lamp. That's the real fun and challenge.
I thought my comment would raise a response and I was correct :)

I agree that you should try learn the system of other countries as it relates to you and applications that you are likely to see. For ship, he is seeing European and possibly Australian plugs/sockets on a frequent basis. I on the other hand see them infrequently.

My advice would be to learn the main types that relate to equipment that you are going to see. You like us will have the same style plug with small variations as the rating increases. For example, the difference between our single phase 10, 15 and 20 Amp plugs is the width of the ground pin. For our 3 phase plugs, it is the position and shape of the keys on the plug/socket.

What would be important to learn however is the colour coding of the conductors. Here Active (Hot) is Red, White and Blue for three phase and Brown for single phase. Neutral is Black in three phase and Blue in single phase and ground is always green or green and yellow. Older style single phase use to be red for Active and black for Neutral. US is Active=white, Neutral=black and Ground=green (If I have it correctly).

At the end of the day the main thing is that you know where to find the information that you need. You do not (and can not) expect to remember or know everything. Teaching has evolved from rote learning of facts and figures to teaching students how to problem solve and search for knowledge.

Knowing the common and essential things thoroughly are more important that knowing less about a larger range of topics. Provided that you can quickly and efficiently go and find the info.

p.s. I do find it reassuring that the USMC didn’t need name tags to remember their own names!
The plugs I refer to in being blue verses yellow were Cee Form of which I stock lots of each type. This in addition to having lots of other Euro plugs in stock some of which seem like they should have a ground but have instead a metal plate with a hole in it and two round pins.

I also have had to deal with various colors of Speakon. The NEMA code and ANSI codes are simple and item specific sufficiently. The Lif code on the other hand... given one can find a complete list for what means what and it's followed still, you will still find more than one lamp, much less more than one base type at times called the same lamp coding. The Lif code is only one slight step above the J-Code used for Asian lamps.

The USMC at least used to only allow those with the higher test scores for aptitude into them. Much harder to get into them than the Army or Navy back than. This in the years right between those having the choice of joining the Marines or going to jail and no doubt these years now where in theory due to need for fresh meat, anyone somewhat breathing can get in to fill a recruitment requirement. Or at least in test scores that's what I heard at the time, we called them who were not so smart a rock. That is smart as one. I'm sure that today as yesterday is much the same but we did not need name tags.

In having or not having name tags, it was more what you could get away with in not having one verses having to have a name on your shirt. In getting yelled at or swiping gear, it was by far much better not to have your name plastered on your shirt. Otherwise in jest it was a question of not needing to have one's name so as to remember it. Such names on one's shirt took place as a change literally right after I got out.

Point is that just as Mayhem learned some about American wiring systems, and I learned Euro based systems, it's par for the course that you and everyone else will also just have to get used to them. It's only going to become more common and I expect that our stage pin plug is already becoming somewhat standard to find in Europe as with 120v Edison in some hotels.
Very few fixtures have IEC.
Most stage lighting uses stage pin (2p&g) which is similar to the older UK 15amp connectors (sorta) (aren't the standard blue cee-forms 16a, not 15?)
Most residential gear (and non-dim 110v) stuff uses edison style plugs.
For 208 volt (moving lights) the most common is twist-loc (l6-20 and l6-30)
Some older theaters may still have 110volt twist loc, Television uses some 60 amp stagepin, and cee-form and twist loc seem to be the most common for 3 phase stuff
(32a, 63a, and 125a)
Mains are still mostly cam-loc.
IEC's are most often seen on rackmount gear (opto splitters, Color Changer PSU's etc.) and lighting consoles
Motors use twist-loc, cee-form, soco7, cannon, and other connectors (always a pain)

But still not as bad as having to go 13a to 16a to Shuko just to power a worklight!

Hope this helps

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