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Old 04-26-2016, 05:41 AM   #16
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Re: Up side down outlets


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Originally Posted by ChiTownPro View Post
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But I will bite, what marginal safety increase does it offer and where did you find your data to come to that conclusion?

And I will counter. If you found out that wearing a tin foil cap would protect you from a 1 in a million chance of getting brain cancer from your cell phone can I expect that you would be wearing the foil hat? It's a silly assertion when there is no measurable difference as well as no quantifiable standard. What would be considered marginal.

Plus there is something to be said about the safety in a consistent standard. I would wager that consistent orientation (up is the current norm) would be marginally safer than upside down (not the current norm). It would be the same reasoning as making steps a consistent height with in a set of stairs and having a universal max height 7 3/4".
Marginal safety increase comes from two places--easier for someone to plug in in the dark (and therefore less likely for them to be feeling around metal prongs they are sticking into hots, since they will orient off the top ground prong), and less likely to have anything fall into the top and shot from hot to neutral. Both unlikely events, both possible.

A Tin foil cap has a significant social cost and is a straw man. The point is you have two choices, both are as easy, one seems to have a slight safety advantage, at least based on reasoning--although if you have a study on it either way, I'm happy to listen. As to the magnitude the benefit has to have to be worth it, obviously that's a function of how hard it is to install the outlet upside-down instead of right-side up. We have lots of things that confer only a tiny safety advantage that we do when dealing with electric, but we still do them.

You're right, consistent orientation might have a safety advantage--again, we should do a study. But today we don't have consistent orientation, and LOTS of places have them both ways. But if we pick a new consistent orientation, safety might be best served by having it "upside-down."
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Old 04-26-2016, 06:19 AM   #17
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Re: Up side down outlets


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Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
I have heard one possible explanation
thou I find it a bit far fetched !
If something was to fall onto the plug
and get in between the plug and recepticule
then it could cause a dangerous short,
so they put them the other way around to prevent this.
UK (British) and Chinese socket outlets are made/installed with the Earth pin uppermost, ostensibly for the reason given by dmxtothemax.

Since 1984, it has also been a requirement of (British Standard) BS 1363 that both the Line and Neutral pins be "insulated" at their base so that, if partly withdrawn, only the insulated section may be "contacted" while the conductive part is still in contact with the terminals of the socket outlet.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_pow..._related_types)

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AS/NZS_3112 where it is stated "The Chinese socket is normally mounted with the earth pin at the top. This is considered to offer some protection should a conductive object fall between the plug and the socket."

From 3 April 2005, "insulated" Line and Neutral pins, similar to that required by BS 1363, have been required for all plugs sold in Australia/New Zealand - where the Earth pin is now (virtually) always "downwards", in the same way in which it is "usually" so positioned in North America.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:09 AM   #18
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Re: Up side down outlets


My old house had "ground pins up" in the bedrooms but nowhere else. I have no idea on that logic (the house was 15 years old when I bought it). I wanted to plug in a watt meter / surge protector which assumed the ground pin was down. If I didn't rotate it, the display would point at the floor.

Then funny story... I decided to flip the receptacle without killing the power. I carefully unscrewed the yoke, slowly pulled out the receptacle grabbing the ears, and then stupidly grabbed both sides with my thumb and index finger to twist 180deg. Yikes! After the feeling came back in my hand in a few minutes, I walked down two flights of stairs and flipped the breaker.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:26 AM   #19
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Re: Up side down outlets


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Originally Posted by Tom738 View Post
Marginal safety increase comes from two places--easier for someone to plug in in the dark (and therefore less likely for them to be feeling around metal prongs they are sticking into hots, since they will orient off the top ground prong), and less likely to have anything fall into the top and shot from hot to neutral. Both unlikely events, both possible.

First you shouldn't be plugging something in while it's dark out. Second I fail to see how putting it up makes it safer than putting it down in this scenario. If I know the orientation, I know how to orient the ground and thus either direction provides the same risk.

What would fall on the top? I have never heard of a single instance of this occurring. Also not all cords have grounds. In fact most lamps do not, so you are only eliminating this possibility on a finite, minuscule, truly measurable unquantifiable circumstance.


A Tin foil cap has a significant social cost and is a straw man. The point is you have two choices, both are as easy, one seems to have a slight safety advantage, at least based on reasoning--although if you have a study on it either way, I'm happy to listen. As to the magnitude the benefit has to have to be worth it, obviously that's a function of how hard it is to install the outlet upside-down instead of right-side up. We have lots of things that confer only a tiny safety advantage that we do when dealing with electric, but we still do them.

You keep using words like marginal and tiny. Those are not terms that indicate true data. Of course it was a strawman. It was used to illustrate the fact that you wouldn't do something when the odds are astronomical. The odds are astronomical therefore nullifying any advantage. It would only be to satisfy an over exaggerated none issue. The odds are just not there to warrant any action that could be excused as a safety reason. It is purely a personal preference and offers no safety advantage, only a perceived one.

You're right, consistent orientation might have a safety advantage--again, we should do a study. But today we don't have consistent orientation, and LOTS of places have them both ways. But if we pick a new consistent orientation, safety might be best served by having it "upside-down."
Consistent is down, that's why someone asked the question. If it were 50/50 or close to it, there would be no discussion. I have never seen an upside down outlet, never. And when installed horizontal the ground is always oriented in the same direction through out the house. Consistency offers more safety advantage than any direction, which I would imagine has no measurable advantage, only perceived.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:59 AM   #20
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Re: Up side down outlets


Simply put, the plugging things in the dark example is only preference and offers no advantage when the individual knows the orientation. It's also a none issue as you shouldn't be plugging anything into an outlet in the dark, no more than operating a table saw in the dark.

The second "scenario" of foreign objects falling and landing on the H and N as you are making contact is a non-factor due to the odds of this occurrence ever happening. Factors must have credible odds and impact. I don't buy flood insurance in the desert. Does it ever flood in the desert, sure, but not often enough to warrant any precautions. Are their earthquakes in IL? Sure! But I am not going to advocate using earthquake brackets in framing a house. The odds of it happening are not enough to impact behavior.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:01 AM   #21
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Re: Up side down outlets


Good conversation. Makes sense from a safety standpoint if something were to drop on the plug but some of the modern power adapters make it difficult to get two plugged in there in some tight areas.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:16 AM   #22
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For a while in the 90's the ground was required to be up. A paper clip fell on a partially plugged in plug and started a fire and some people died.
It was later determined that it is just as likely to be a problem with the ground up so it's no longer a requirement but a preference.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:21 AM   #23
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Re: Up side down outlets


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For a while in the 90's the ground was required to be up. A paper clip fell on a partially plugged in plug and started a fire and some people died.
It was later determined that it is just as likely to be a problem with the ground up so it's no longer a requirement but a preference.
In the USA? or was this a California requirement?
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:31 AM   #24
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Re: Up side down outlets


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Originally Posted by Ozarka88 View Post
Good conversation. Makes sense from a safety standpoint if something were to drop on the plug but some of the modern power adapters make it difficult to get two plugged in there in some tight areas.
Like what? What would they drop? And it only would work if the plug had a ground, which most do not. If you have a paperclip in your hand or mouth, drop it before you plug something in. Common sense should rule the day.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:50 AM   #25
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Re: Up side down outlets


I asked a commercial ol' timer electrician who was installing them that way, the answer he gave me was -

"when the receptacle has the metal style cover, should the retaining screw ever come out, the plate would drop down and it would short the hot and neutral"
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:07 AM   #26
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Re: Up side down outlets


Google the issue.....and you will find. The same discussion on virtually every do it your self site......over and over and over......and in the result for residential always seems to end up as "personal preference". THAT said, these days power strips etc. often come in a configuration that when you plug them in, the cord runs in the direction that the ground pin goes.....so that if the ground is UP, the cord needs to bend over backwards to reach down to the floor....which I personally don't like....so mine go in ground down. Ron
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:25 AM   #27
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Sorry, California. Maybe only commercial for all I know
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:43 AM   #28
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Re: Up side down outlets


Quote:
"when the receptacle has the metal style cover, should the retaining screw ever come out, the plate would drop down and it would short the hot and neutral"
I've heard that one many times, but I don't agree that it's valid. You need two things too happen, a partially inserted plug and the faceplate screw backing all the way out. What's the chances of both of those happening ?

If it did, it was most likely some duffus who tried removing a faceplate while something was still plugged in.
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:57 AM   #29
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Re: Up side down outlets


Quote:
For a while in the 90's the ground was required to be up.
I don't believe that it was ever a statewide requirement. Job spec'd in commercial jobs, yes. Or perhaps some Local Authority had a local amendment, etc.
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:21 PM   #30
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I'll admit my source was weak for that post so Oso is probably right. I consider him a better source than where I read that
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