Polarized Vs Non-polarized Power Cord: Complete Guide

Polarized Vs Non-polarized Power Cord

Do you know how polarized vs nonpolarized power cords differ? The design of each prong distinguishes a polarized plug from one that is not polarized. Here is more information about them.

You might need to get on your hands and knees and make two attempts to plug your coffee maker into a difficult-to-reach outlet because the plug can only be inserted one way.

The plug on your computer or phone charger can be inserted either way, contrary to what is stated above. Why the difference when that seems so much simpler?

What is Polarization?

Positive and negative poles are meaningless in a North American AC circuit because the current reverses 60 times per second. An AC circuit does have two “legs,” though. Two legs are involved in a circuit: the hot leg, which originates directly from the power source, and the return leg, which completes the circuit by returning to the source. The neutral leg is not energized if the circuit is broken by a switch, but the hot leg is.

When using an unpolarized plug, the hot leg of the circuit may be on either side of the appliance you are using. You can use a nonpolarized outdoor extension cord for your Christmas lights because this is acceptable for nonswitched devices. However, it poses a risk for switched appliances. When the switch is off, every electrical component on the hot side of the switch may be energized, which may result in a shock.

If the device has a polarized power cord, this scenario is not possible. Manufacturers’ position switches as close to the hot terminal as they can because the hot leg is always on the same side of the device. When the switch is off, the object has no electrical charge.

Polarized Vs Non-Polarized Plug

We will discuss both two separately.

1. What is Polarized Power Plug

A polarized plug has different-sized pins. In general, polarized plug wiring makes it simple to tell which prong is hot and which is neutral. For instance, the neutral prong will be wide and silver, and the hot prong will be thin and gold.

Polarized Power Plug

This configuration is intended to make sure that wires are connected to the appropriate sockets.

Most modern electronic equipment comes with polarized two prong plugs or three prong plugs with a ground connection. This is due to the NEC requiring this configuration for many devices that use power cords.


  • You can’t mistakenly plug it in a wrong way
  • Promote safety in the circuit
  • Can provide protection from electrical shocks, especially for switched devices


  • It might limit your usage since it can only be plugged into a polarized electrical receptacle

2. What is a Non-Polarized Power Plug

The distinction between the neutral and hot prongs on a power plug is what is meant by the term “non-polarized power plug.” It frequently has two identically sized prongs and no ground connection, but it is still safe to use.

Older devices frequently have this kind of plug. However, it is still found on a few contemporary devices, such as laptop and cell phone electronic chargers. Additionally, non-switched devices like holiday and other lighting use it.

However, if connected to switched appliances, it could present an electrical hazard and cause electrocution. This is due to the fact that it lacks a grounding feature that could block the current.


  • Compatible with and safe for both polarized and non-polarized outlets
  • It does not matter how you plug it into the outlet


  • You cannot identify which prong is hot or neutral
  • A non polarized plug dangerous if used with non-switched devices
  • Plugging it in reverse polarity may reversibly energize the circuit and creates a hazard

Difference Between Polarized and Non Polarized Power Cord

Generally, the main difference between a polarized plug and a non-polarized one is the structure of each prong. This means that if a device uses polarity for electrical connection, you can tell just by looking at the plug portion of the device.

The safety they offer is another way that these fixtures are different. Although most older devices use non-polarized plugs, most electronics, especially those with metal casings, are safer with polarized plugs.

However, there are differences between grounded and polarized extension cords. This is because the former might not have a grounded connection. However, all grounded plugs, including those on extension cords, are regarded as polarized.

Read More: RJ12 Vs. RJ11 Vs. RJ45

Brief History of Plugs and Outlets

Modern plugs and outlets are not much different from those Harvey Hubbell, a Connecticut inventor, patented and sold in 1903. The addition of a ground pin and the introduction of polarized blades to Hubbell’s design, which took place in the early 1900s, were the two most significant changes. It wasn’t until mid-century revisions to the electrical code made them mandatory that these modifications became standardized.

Also Read: Push-in Wire Connectors


Can I Replace Polarized Plug With Non-Polarized?

All polarized and non-polarized plugs will fit into a polarized socket, but polarized plugs will not fit into a non-polarized socket. The requirement within the equipment’s internal circuitry determines whether one or the other is necessary, and this is equipment-specific.

Can I Use a Non-polarized Power Cord TV?

It makes no difference how you connect live and neutral because contemporary power supplies, like the one in your TV, don’t care or even notice. So you can safely use a non-polarized lead, the As long as it is built correctly in accordance with contemporary safety standards, TV doesn’t give a damn.

Does It Matter What Power Cord I Use?

Your device needs an AC adapter with the appropriate electrical ratings. The device’s input voltage and current must match the adapter’s output voltage and current. To find out what voltage and current the device is rated for, consult the product label or user guide.


You can use your devices more productively if you are aware of the distinction between polarized and non-polarized power cords. Additionally, it will keep you informed of the dangers and risks associated with electrical connections’ polarity.

It’s possible that you have an outdated electrical connection if you’re interested in this subject. A polarized to non-polarized adapter is not the best option, so keep that in mind. Consider switching to a grounded electrical system instead to comply with the most recent electrical codes.

Read Next: How To Crimp Wires To Connectors?