My (controversial) Theory


For the electricians here:
As you know there are three ways to wire a wall outlet/receptacle.
#1. Pressure plate - known as backstab in which the stripped conductor is simply inserted into the back of the receptacle and is held in place by friction.
#2. Side-Wire - self explanatory.
#3. Back-wire - conductor goes in back but is held in place by tightening side-screws. Supposedly preferred for use only with stranded conductor - but how many homes of any vintage are run with STRANDED wire? ? ? !
My theory is based upon some work I did regarding a very large branch in my home last year. This branch covers all the receptacles in the living-dining area, the bedroom, and (for some reason) the range hood over the kitchen stove. Only the fridge, stove, and some counter outlets and the bathroom are on different breakers.
Built in 1969, this place was completely back-stabbed with 14gauge copper. I converted most of the aforementioned branch to side-wire. However, I had to replace one outlet behind the couch as I cracked it while chipping away literally 1/8" of layers of paint to get the friggin' thing out the wall!! The receptacle I replaced it with was commercial spec, which I wired according to #3, remembering to tighten accordingly.
I believe that my re-wiring had an effect on the CONSUMPTION data on my electric bills for May - November of 2006 vs. the same period of 2005. That is, the avg. daily kWh used. The actual bill was not much different - only a buck or 2 less than 2005, because the local utility had increased rates by 25% last April. Needless to say, the avg. kWH used was down significantly compared for each of the same months in 2005.
My theory - which got me banned from the doityourself.com forums - is that I improved the electrical conductivity of this circuit enough that items running off it actually ran more efficiently. I also believe that my electronics both look and sound better after converting most of this branch from back-stab to side wire or back wire.
Did I increase the contact area on those receptacles that much to make a difference?
-ChrisCoaster
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NO

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ChrisCoaster wrote:

I would hope that the designers of the outlets had tested the connections to ensure that thay were very similar in performance. I have seen backstab TYPE connections that led to very high heating of the connection due to minimal contact areas but NOT in a domestic outlet.
I tend to use the sidewire connection myself simply because its easier to remove if the outlet needs to be changed.
In my area wiring through an outlet is forbidden by code so all outlets must be either pigtailed or the end of the circuit.
If your backstabs were producing a significant extra drain , I would expect to find high temperatures at the outlets and a noticable voltage drop under load. (I may be wrong about that - not an electrician)
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I'm an electrical engineer and electronics hardware designer by trade, and a home electrician occasionally. I find the theory and observations (better looking video, better sounding audio, lower power consumption) to totally lack physical rationale and credibility. I would put the observations into the category of "wishful thinking".
Unless your outlets had substantial voltage drops due to (dangerously high) resistance and heating, then ***no way*** will you see truly the effects you claim.
Smarty

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Smarty wrote:

I call troll, but it might be possible if he did such a bad job of rewiring the outlets that a good portion of them no longer work at all. That could result in a reduction of power usage.
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wrote:

No.
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ChrisCoaster wrote: - My theory - which got me banned from the doityourself.com forums
Please add alt.home.repair to the list of forums you are banned from.
ChrisCoaster wrote:

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ChrisCoaster wrote:

Electronics looking and sounding better because of this is almost certainly all in your head. Same would go for power consumption. It's kinda like when you change the oil in your car. It almost seems like the car is running better because of it (at least for me). But, it's all in your head.
-Felder
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No. Your Wife probably snuck in a couple compact fluorescent lamps or took away your TV and computer.
Bill
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Berkshire Bill wrote:

How anyone could think a difference in electrical usage from one 6 month period to another period a year later is attributable to the type of wiring connection to an outlet is beyond me. Just about everyones usage has considerable variation from obvious things that make a huge difference. Like the weather affecting how long heating or cooling runs. Take a look at 6 month bills from 10 years and you will see considerable variation, unless your only load is fixed, like a 1000watt bulb on a timer.
For those connections to have any real and significant effect on your electric bill, the previous connection would have to be generating considerable heat, due to resistance. And if that were routinely possible, it would present such a safety hazhard that it would have been well known and banned a long time ago.

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On Sun, 14 Jan 2007 08:06:45 -0500, "Berkshire Bill"

Or......His wife could have replaced her industrial strength "body" massager with the milk man.
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Interesting situation. Some food for thought...
I suppose you could get a situation where there was a poor connection and this would cause an intermittent off/on of the power to something.
Then that something would use more electricity when first turning on than once it was on. So if constantly going off/on due to a poor connection, it would be using more electricity than a good connection and always on.
Then there are electronic power supplies, surge suppressors, UPS, and power line conditioners. I think some of these short to ground when they "see" a voltage surge. I don't know if a poor or intermittent off/on connection might cause one of these devices to momentarily short to ground [causing more power use]???
Or would a poor connection cause some device to create a voltage spike which would then cause a surge suppressor elsewhere to momentarily short to ground [thus causing a brief additional power draw]?
Would the electronics in some electronic power supplies cause a device to draw more power if it had a poor connection?
Then I have seen space heaters which have a poor connection and the plug is hot to the touch. If this same space heater is plugged into a brand new outlet which has a good connection, the plug is cold to the touch. I don't know if the poor connection situation would draw more power or not???
"ChrisCoaster" wrote in message

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First the OP did a good thing replacing cheap poor backstab outlets. remember the entire outlet is worth nothing and sells for just a bit more.:)
I had a radio once that had a slight hiss. took it to the shop no noise, wierd. back to the kitchen hiss back on some stations the ones I liked.
back to the shop, perfect...... perfect in every other location I tried radio. other radios didnt hiss in this outlet........
finally replaced outlet hiss gone forever:)
so for this radio with this outlet it was bad news.
might be for the OP too, if its better GREAT!
=========================================================== as for power use its possible, systems in devices are complicated, like computers and UPS.
imagine a electric heater plugged in a oputlet in a outside non insulated wall.
in the winter the heater is used the excess heat from the poor backstab outlet dissapates into the cold wall doing little to warm the room so the heater has to run longer.....
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As I read the post, he only replaced (1), because he broke it. He just changed how the outlets from 1969 were wired

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ChrisCoaster wrote:

Your theory has a name: it's called "The Placebo Effect."
If YOU think your record player sounds better, the lights are a little brighter, and your bill is a little less, then you have discovered something that, for you, works and works well.
Theory be damned: you have empirical proof of the rightness of your efforts. Do not be discouraged by non-believers. All religions start out that way.
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having seen so many wierd troubles fixing machines since 1975 I wouldnt dismiss it as impossible.........
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