This article takes a detailed look into recent innovative new solutions to the problem of securing power connection devices and discusses IEC lockable connectors.
IEC 60320, including the IEC C13/14 & IEC C19/20 connectors, has become the most adopted standard worldwide for the connection of devices to power.
While these connectors have allowed more universal connectivity to devices, one of their key shortcomings is the ability for these connectors to be removed or to come loose accidentally. This is in stark opposition to the more industrial-purpose options (such as IEC 60309, or Clipsal's 56 series.)
A number of hardware solutions have been developed over the years to 'secure' IEC 60320 power connectors into their connection points, however many are flimsy and prone to breakages themselves, but more recently there have been some innovative new solutions to this age old problem.
The first solution: V-Lock ("APC" - style and clones)
This system was the first developed and requires both the plug and socket ends to have the V-Lock mechanism i.e. if the power distribution and the device both have V-Lock connectors, there will be a secured connection.
The cost-effective solution: IEC Lock
A British company, Click Scolmore, developed a solution to address the weakness of the first system. This is a "socket" based locking system. A friction-based lock is built into the earth pin receptacle of the socket, thus securing any regular plug pin. In this way an IEC-Lock C13 connector would 'securely lock' when connected with any real-world IEC C14, IEC-Lock C19 or IEC C20 plug.
This solution allows retrofitting to existing installations, either with the procurement of an IEC-Lock based PDU, or with replacing individual power leads. The decision to update to a locking solution no longer requires a complete overhaul of your installation and can now be based on which end of the 'power chain' is the most fragile to disruptions.
The covenient solution: "enLogic"
The third option recently released on the market was developed to take advantage of the 'end-to-end' security of the first system, with the easy-to-retrofit convenience of the second option. Enlogic's locking IEC cable incorporates a locking plug which would lock into any V-Lock style locking receptacles, while the socket end would lock into any connecting IEC plug (IEC C14 or C20).
"We think Click Scolmore and enLogic have both produced excellent alternatives to the dominant V-Lock model. However, more and more of our customers are also after a custom assembly that includes a locking component in either the cable or the powerstrip - for example, custom cable lengths to measure, to ensure excess cabling is not taking up unnecessary room," says Jeremy Martens, Director at power distribution specialist, RackLink.
While the V-Lock style has initially been the dominant option, the rise of the other two options has made for a more competitive market. Each one has strengths and weaknesses and will suit different installations in different ways.