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Old 09-30-2008, 01:23 PM   #1
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You get what you paid for


Hi;
I had an experience with an electrical product I would like to share:

I purchased two weatherproof outlet covers. They were Red-Dot, made for any type of receptacle (or switch). There were of the vertical mounting type, and were being installed on a vertical mounted outlet.

I purchased these at Home Depot for under $4 each.

When I installed the first one, I found it to be defective. The "spring", which consists of nothing more than a bent piece of metal didn't have enough strength to keep the cover closed snugly. I opened the second of the two I had purchased, and found it to be a bit more acceptable, although not what I would have liked.

Yesterday, when it came time to install the second outdoor outlet, I had only that defective cover on hand, so I attempted to repair it.
I was able to remove the door from the frame, and pryed up the prongs of the metal "spring" I described previously.

I was not successful in repairing the product, so today, I went to a local hardware store and purchased one made by Bell for a lot more money ($8.50). This one looked like it was going to be much more reliable even before I opened the package.
I was not disappointed. The Bell cover is all metal (like the Red.Dot), but is built much more solid, and has a real spring to hold the door closed.
It is held on by it's own screws, not sharing the same screws that hold the outlet in place, as does the Red.Dot model.

Needless to say, I would have preferred to have purchased the Bell cover the first time, and am a bit off that HD doesn't have much of a selection in this area (unless I was looking in the wrong place; I'll check their online store to see if they have the Bell product).

So, it all comes down to the old addage "you get what you pay for". Especially in these days where everything is made in China, and it seems that a low price is more important than quality.
By selling inexpensive products, the company is probably betting on the consumer needing to replace it in a few years, so they sell two.

I could have returned the defective product to HD, but considering that I paid less than $4 for it, I wasn't going to spend a half hour on the customer service line to get my credit.
I am just happy that I was able to purchase a quality product, even though it cost me a lot more.
At least I won't have to worry about the outlet getting wet when it rains, causing more problems.

BTW, it is a GFCI receptacle.

FW

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Old 09-30-2008, 04:09 PM   #2
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FYI- those covers are no longer in code for external receptacles unless they are of the type where the plug is totally covered in use. Usually these are a "bubble" type-

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Old 09-30-2008, 04:43 PM   #3
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FYI- those covers are no longer in code for external receptacles unless they are of the type where the plug is totally covered in use. Usually these are a "bubble" type-
Are you sure about that?
I read it before on this forum, but at HD, they're still selling them in quantity.
The label clearly indicates that these are waterproof only when closed.

Since I don't have any use of a cover that remains waterproof when the plug is in, I am not concerned. If an inspector comes around my home for some other reason and makes me change them, then I'll do so.

The trouble with such a code as you mention, the cover may remain waterproof, but what about what is plugged into that cover?
What if a person leaves an extension cord plugged in, nothing connected to the other end, and it winds up in a pool of water. It's going to trip the GFCI, which IS code, and I wouldn't have an outdoor outlet without GFCI. If the outlet's not GFCI, then the thing will end up putting current/voltage into the standing pool of water, and one will have to pray that there is a good ground, so the next person who steps into it won't be fried.

At Xmas, I have seen lots of lights plugged in with plastic bags over the extension cords.
I know by experience that this won't keep out the rain, and certainly not melting snow.
So, what I am trying to say is that unless there is a way to guarantee a watertight connection outside of the receptacle, it isn't going to make much difference, unless you consider the fact that if the cord/device plugged into a GFCI protected circuit will not present as big a problem as if the LINE side of a GFCI receptacle gets wet.

FW
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Old 09-30-2008, 05:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by handyman78 View Post
FYI- those covers are no longer in code for external receptacles unless they are of the type where the plug is totally covered in use. Usually these are a "bubble" type-
You can still use those covers if the outlet is under a porch or over hang
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by handyman78 View Post
FYI- those covers are no longer in code for external receptacles unless they are of the type where the plug is totally covered in use. Usually these are a "bubble" type-
They are fine for damp locations, wet locations require the bubble style, or closed when in use style.
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:38 PM   #6
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They are fine for damp locations, wet locations require the bubble style, or closed when in use style.
I have been using this type of cover on outdoor (mostly unprotected) for a long time, and have never had a problem. These receptacles are all GFCI protected, so if there was leakage it would be tripping out.

I understand the code, as it provides much better protection.
Since I have already installed the one on the back wall of the house, I'll see what happens.
If the GFCI trips even once, I'll change all of the covers.

There is one that is sort of under an overhang. It's on the window sill (at ground level).
This one has been in use for 30 years with GFCI protection, and have never tripped it.

The one in the front of the house will be the real test of the non-bubble type of cover.
It is completely unprotected, and is the cheap red.dot model I talked about.
It is protected by a GFCI receptacle in the basement, so if there is any leakage at all, the GFCI will trip.

I did wrap all of these outlets in more than one layer of good (3M) electrical tape, which covers both the LINE and LOAD terminals.

I am not making excuses to violate code, just that I don't want to throw away a product I just paid good money for. The Bell cover should hold up fine in all weather. It's more like the ones I used to see 30 years ago, when there weren't any bubble types.

If this were someone else's home, I would go back and change them tomorrow, but since it is my home, I know that I can keep an eye on the situation, and at first sign of a problem, they will get changed out.

FW
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:41 PM   #7
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Is there any way to edit a post once it has been posted?
I keep writing things then later thinking I should have worded it differently.
Like in the above post, I said "window sill". It's not the sill, but the side frame.
I don't want anyone to think I would be stupid enough to mount an electrical outlet on the sill itself.

FW
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Old 09-30-2008, 09:04 PM   #8
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Is there any way to edit a post once it has been posted?
I keep writing things then later thinking I should have worded it differently.
FW
Yes- there should be an edit button showing when you are logged in and you look at your own posts.
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Old 09-30-2008, 10:23 PM   #9
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Yes- there should be an edit button showing when you are logged in and you look at your own posts.
No edit button in my browser (Firefox v3.0)
I'll check the help section.
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Old 09-30-2008, 10:48 PM   #10
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Must be that version- I just opened the page in Firefox 2.0.0.17 and it was showing just to the left of the quote button shown below this post.
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Old 09-30-2008, 11:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handyman78 View Post
Must be that version- I just opened the page in Firefox 2.0.0.17 and it was showing just to the left of the quote button shown below this post.
I use Firefox Version 3.0.3 and have no issues....
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:20 AM   #12
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I use Firefox Version 3.0.3 and have no issues....
Where should I be seeing the edit button?
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handyman78 View Post
Must be that version- I just opened the page in Firefox 2.0.0.17 and it was showing just to the left of the quote button shown below this post.
I am using a flash blocker. Perhaps I need to allow flash for this site.
I'll also try other browsers. I have MSIE 7, and Google Chrome.

FW
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Old 10-01-2008, 07:02 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by fw2007 View Post
Where should I be seeing the edit button?
Just to the left of the "Quote" button....
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:44 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by theatretch85 View Post
Just to the left of the "Quote" button....
If you see the quote button you should see the edit too. Again, make sure you are logged in or else you won't see it.

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