What is a NEMA 5-15 Plug?

Charging an electric vehicle at home can involve installing an expensive charging station. An alternative option is to use a mains plug-in charger, which is typically cheaper and more convenient.

However, to do so, you’ll need to know what type of plug you can use and the current it can handle. Below, we’ll look at the NEMA 5-15 plug and whether it works for EV charging.

What is a NEMA 5-15 Connector and How Does it Work?

A NEMA 5-15 plug is the most common type of plug in North America. It has 2 poles and a grounding wire, meaning it’s a 3 prong plug. Many older American plugs are 2-prong as they don’t have a grounding wire. However, grounding wires are now the standard because they offer greater safety.

A NEMA 5-15 p works in a fairly standard way. The 2 powered prongs are hot and neutral, which allow electrical current to flow from the wall outlet into the device. The ground pin is the longest so it can enter the outlet first. It provides a path of low resistance if something goes wrong in the plug or device, which prevents you from getting an electric shock.

What Are the Most Common Plugs in North America?

The NEMA 5-15 is the most common plug in North America. It’s used in both Canada and the US because both countries use 120V for their mains power voltage. Although the NEMA 5-15 isn’t the only 125V plug, it’s the most common because it provides a good combination of safety and flexibility.

What is the Difference Between 2.5-15P and 5-15R?

The main difference between 2.5-15P and 5-15R plugs is the number of prongs. A 2.5 doesn’t have a ground pin, whereas a 5 does. The numbers also refer to the current the plug can handle.

Specifically, both are rated for 15A, which is the second number. The first number refers to voltage. In this case, 2.5 is 125V and ungrounded, while 5 is 125V and grounded. Finally, the letter at the end (R or P) refers to whether the device is a plug or receptacle (outlet). Unsurprisingly, P is for plug and R is for receptacle.

So, the differences are as follows:

  • 5-15P is a 125V, 15A, ungrounded plug
  • 5-15R is a 125V, 15A, grounded receptable

It’s worth noting that a 2.5-15 plug will fit into a 5-15 receptacle because ungrounded plugs fit into grounded outlets. Of course, you can’t put a grounded plug into an ungrounded receptacle, as there’s nowhere for the ground pin to go.

What Types of NEMA 5-15 Connector are Available in the US?

There’s technically only one type of NEMA 5-15 connector available for electrical equipment in the US. This is because it’s an official designation for a plug type rather than a brand or design. As mentioned, NEMA 5-15 connectors have 3 pins, one of which is a ground pin, and can carry 125V up to 15A.

You’ll find NEMA 5-15 connectors on all kinds of devices. You can get locking and non-locking connectors, too. As the names suggest, these either lock into the wall outlet or don’t. If you’re looking for a locking connector, look for codes that have L at the beginning, such as L5-15P.

Can You Get a NEMA 5-15 Connector for an EV Charger?

A NEMA 5-15 connector is the most common type of electrical connector in North America. While it’s most common on household devices that can happily run at this voltage and amperage (125V and 15A), it can be used on other devices too.

One example is EV chargers. You can connect an EV charger directly to a mains wall outlet as long as it’s got the correct plug. This is perhaps the most convenient option because it saves you from having to install a lot of extra wiring, including specific circuit breakers for high current and voltage. 

However, NEMA 5-15 connectors are for Level 1 EV chargers. These are considered the slowest chargers for electric vehicles. But they’re also the cheapest and most convenient and reliable. Provided you’ve only got 1 EV in your home, a Level 1 charger should be fine.

Can NEMA 5-15 Handle 240V?

NEMA 5-15 can’t handle a 240V current. The 5 refers to the voltage rating, which in this case is 125V with a ground pin. If you want a plug that can handle 240V, you’ll need one with the number 6 at the beginning.

It’s unsafe to use a 5-15 p in a 240V outlet, or vice versa. The 5-15 equipment isn’t rated to handle such a high voltage, which could cause it to short out. Luckily, 125V is standard in the US, but if you want a 240V outlet, you’ll need a new circuit breaker fitted in your home to handle the higher voltage and current.

How Many Miles Can an EV Drive After Using a NEMA 5-15 EV Charger for One Hour?

NEMA 5-15 chargers are considered Level 1 EV chargers. The general rule is that they charge at a rate of up to 5 miles per hour. So, the answer to the question is that an EV could drive a maximum of 5 miles after charging for 1 hour using a NEMA 5-15 connector.

If this sounds too slow, you’ll want a NEMA 15-50 outlet installed. This is for a Level 2 charger, which can handle 240V and up to 50A. A Level 1 charger is usually fine for overnight charging or for plug-in hybrids, which usually have smaller batteries than full EVs.

Final Thoughts

The NEMA 5-15 outlet is a good option for EV chargers at home. While it’s not the fastest, it’s a cheap and reliable option that doesn’t require any extra installation. Instead, you can simply plug it in to any wall outlet and charge your EV.


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