NEMA 5-15 question

How do manufacturers get away with putting 15a plugs on equipment that draws
the full 15a or more? I have a Campbell Hausfeld compressor with a motor
labelled 15a FLA. It really pulls 15a and sometimes a bit over that..
That certainly sounds like a violation of NEC 210.21(B)(2) and 210.23(A)(1).
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Do not confuse the NEC with the standards for electrical testing that are used by electrical laboratories to test electrical products. They get away with it because the equipment passed the tests to which the listing laboratory subjected it. There are hair dryers on the market today that are listed and labeled as 125 volt 1875 watt appliances. That figures out to the entire ampacity of a fifteen ampere circuit. Those also come with a fifteen ampere plug. -- Tom H
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Tom Horne
I have been looking for one of them. My wife and daughter have an assorment of hair dryers. Some say they have humongous power ratings but when you put the old clamp on to them they all seem to come in under the magic 1440w. I suspect they use LRA on the motor or something to get the puffed up rating. BTW my 15 FLA compressor has 6.25P written all over it.
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That's an excellent question I've wondered myself. I have 14A power saws, 1600 watt hair dryers, and other things like this all with normal 5-15 plugs. One answer is that the NEC should not try to regulate things they cannot control. On the other hand, isn't an equipment maker required to meet current NEC requirements for things sold in the US? Some of the rules could be satisfied by specifying a 20A circuit be used in the appliance's instructions. But the real way to enfore that is to put a 20A plug on the equipment. However, this would cause unhappy consumers, because not too many 20A circuits contain 5-20 T slotted receptacles.
Perhaps the listing certification is what really matters, as Tom mentioned. Many of these devices either do not draw the rated current unless doing work (like saws when actually cutting wood), or they run for a fairly short time (compressors and blow dryers). So maybe there's an implicit demand factor that lets them get away with 15A rated equipment.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Mark or Sue

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