It’s a sad reality, but counterfeit and poorly manufactured power cords are more common than one might think. In some cases, knockoffs of trusted brands and equipment are produced for sale by unwitting or shady manufacturer; in others, manufacturers substitute materials with cheaper ones to cut costs.

In any case, these actions are compromising the safety of those who work with these power cords, as well as endangering expensive equipment and property that can be damaged as the result of a power cord malfunction or fire.

Obviously, counterfeit power cords have the potential (no pun intended) to make their way into data centers, where they pose a risk from fire and electrical shock, which can result in personal injury and data center downtime.

Fortunately, there are ways to establish whether a power cord is authentic or counterfeit. Here are 5 ways we’re identified to help determine if a power cord may not be on the up-and-up:

  1. Substituting cheaper material—like aluminum—for copper. Some manufacturers will cut corners by using materials other than copper in their wire. In order to identify a conductor strand that is not pure copper, the strand can be scraped with a pocket knife. If a contrasting silver color can be seen against the copper, then the strand is not pure copper.
  2. Recycling PVC that will become brittle and crack. Re-ground from disposed plastics and other materials, counterfeit PVC ages quickly and becomes brittle. Additionally, it may contain potentially toxic materials that are restricted by RoHS or other environmental regulations.
  3. Incorrect strand count for wiring. Some counterfeiters and shady manufacturers will cheat on the strand count in the power cord’s conductors. This can be tested by cutting a cord open and examining the strand count against the specification.
  4. No internal or third-party testing. This is a sure bet that a cord is either counterfeit or poorly manufactured. Tested, safe power cords will be UL-listed, and certifications will always be included or easy to verify.
  5. Forged agency approvals. UL-certified power cords have an “E” designation on the molded end. However, some savvy counterfeiters are able to fake this by using a legitimate manufacturer’s credentials. UL listings can be checked at

As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” A counterfeit cord may cost less—in fact, if one does cost a lot less, it’s a good indicator that it may indeed be counterfeit—but there may be greater cost considering the damage it can do. It always pays to be careful about what you purchase and where you purchase it, especially when the stakes are high. When in doubt, the above steps can aid in helping your organization avoid potential damage and/or injuries.

Need an authentic, tested and safe custom power cord? For more information about StayOnline’s custom solutions, please visit our CordBuilder tool to see how you can design, price, and order the exact cord you are looking for.  You can also reach us by phone at 888/346-4688 or by email at