Comparing Cables to Cables: Portable Cord VS Power Cords

by | Dec 29, 2021

Comparing Cables to Cables

Portable Cords VS Power Cords

Today, our comparing segment will shine the spotlight on two alike types of cords/cables that two the eye may look like there isn’t much of a difference but will surely yield very different results in any device or apparatus used in. The cords/cables spotlighted are, power cords and portable cords. 

As many reading this blog might already know from wire & cable brochures and magalogues, power and portable cords are frequently grouped conjointly; which can make one infer that they might alternatives for one another. Although this is partly true below you’ll see the rules as to when this can be the case. The idea that some may have about these two cords doing the same thing originates from the main roles they serve, which is to relay currents. But what are the main differences you might ask?  

Portable cords, what are they?  

The best way to describe portable cords is, a malleable cord that is not only designed for apparatus that require short-term supply but also includes more than one conductors. Though most common portable cords include at the very minimum two bare copper conductors, individual qualities of portable cords, as well as the application it may be put into will differ based on the kind of stranding, insulating or jacketing chosen. Although portable cords have the reputation of performing well under harsh situations are resilient to grease, solvents and wear, certain jacketing types are tougher and impervious to water and other threatening factors too. 

Image to display portable cords
image to display Z-Tronix SJTOW Bulk Cord

Jacketing material of portable cordage can be identified by looking at the outer surface of the cord, more specifically at the combination of lettering that identifies the composition and use of the cordage. In the same manner, not only do the combination of letters indicate the amount of volts it may handle but the elements it may be impervious to or the properties and traits it may have. One example of this is when the ‘J’ letter is present, short for Junior, it is denoting that the cable is only capable of reaching 300 volts, otherwise it is capable of reaching 600 volts.  

As for uses of portable cordage, it can be seen best utilized in appliances and small electrical tooling as well as in not only maritime settings and products but in commercial, industrial, inside, outside and domestic uses. One term that is actually accepted to be used interchangeably to portable cords is ‘service cord’, that is when utilized in motor or appliance settings. 

image to display collection of Z-Tronix power cords

Power cords, what are they? 

Very different to portable cordage, power cordage on the other hand is intended for long-term usage and as a result is perfectly suited to be used for direct burial applications, or used as overhead or exposed wires due to the fact that it is made up of one or more conductors containing a shielding and comes in a variety of styles, properties and specifications to suit a variety of purposes. 

Some of the industries where power cords are widely employed are not only in the electric utility industry but also in the industrial and commercial industries. It is hard to think of any industry that doesn’t use power cordage as everything needs electric currents to power. From automotive, locomotive and maritime industries to the oil, gas and energy industries, and the HVAC, lighting and access control industries all use power cordage. 

How are they similar, and how can Z-Tronix help? 

The key point to keep in mind is that portable cord is only meant for interim current supply, whereas power cords are often utilized for protracted or permanent uses.  

Unsure still or have remaining questions? Not to worry! Z-Tronix’s wire and cable experts are eagerly ready to assist you in the decision-making of portable or power cordage when calling 562-808-0800 or emailing at