This might sound like a dumb question, but is there a proper orientation for
an outlet? I'm looking at the replacement outlet that I am going to install
and I notice (based purely on the text stamped on the outlet face) that the
text on the outlet is upside down if you put the ground prong on the bottom,
but the text on the outlet is rightside up and readible, the ground prong is
on top of the hot and neutral prong.
Does the orientation matter so far as code is concerned? Is there a reason
why having the ground tap on the top would be necessarily a bad thing - if
only because the cords wouldn't stay in the outlet or you'd have to always
twist the cord 180 degrees when you plugged in.
Most people haven't because (1) most plates in a
house aren't metal (metal usually found only in a
shop or industrial applications)and (2) plates are
screwed on and don't often come off, especially if
a plug is in the socket. Probably have a 1 in
10,000,000 chance of a plate falling off.
I see a fair amount of metal plates in older homes and updated newer
ones, and the odds are probably higher than that. We could poll the
people on this newsgroup, mulitply by the number of outlets, on
average, they've lived with over the years, and determine a sample
incident ratio - but let's not. ;)
We're talking about convenience outlets. The proper orientation of an
outlet is that which allows the connecting cord(s) to run the best
course, lay flatest, or most concealed/accessible. In other words,
whatever is most convenient. Any other answer, whether code or
conviction, is based on immaterial and insignificant factors. That
probably helps explain why GFIs usually (always? never saw one that
wasn't) have the test and reset buttons labeled so they're readable
with the ground in either orientation.
Completely agree with the paragraph above. I
suppose type of plates may depend on what part of
the country you live in. And certainly people use
all types of material, wood, rock, etc. to make
This has been discussed many times here. You can
orient the plug any way you want including
horizontally. Most plugs seem to be oriented with
the hole (ground) on the bottom, but other houses
have the ground on the top. Flat plugs are often
formed so that a plug with the ground on the
bottom is best. Orient it any way you want, you
can always turn it over later if you want a
I can confirm that the metal cover plate reason makes no sense,
regardless of who's bought into the logic and written code to comply.
By the time the ground prong is far enough out of the receptacle hole
to make contact with the cover plate, the other two prongs are far
enough out that the cord is no longer energized.
The cover plate has nothing to do with the orientation. Nothing. The
grounding plug is a bit longer than the other two. Like the other guy
said, first to make, last to break.
Unless there's a new and stupid plug with flexible prongs, the hot and
neutral can't be made to touch the cover plate unless the receptacle is
recessed well behind the face of the plate.
Why is it that nobody's mentioned a polarized plug? Since there's no
ground, does that make the plug more dangerous?
This whole thing is like someone complaining about the dangers of an
air bag while they're driving around drunk. The mechanical/electrical
systems aren't to blame, it's the nut behind the wheel.
I was told by an electrician that the practice was changed to ground up a
few years ago. The reason is that if a plug is not all the way into the
receptacle, something dropped, like a paperclip off a desk, will not cross
the two prongs and come to rest. It would most likely slide off.
I've also notice that a lot of new appliance cords, as air conditioner, are
made in such a way that they will hang better ground up.
I suppose it's not enough of an advantage that it's worth changing
existing receptacles that need no other work.
Yes. That applies to my dryer (240V 30A) as well at 120V plugs.
Also. if you have 2 of those for one receptacle, how may have a
problem since the cord on one plug can cover up the other outlet. They
COULD make the cord come out the side, so you'd never have that
problem. BTW, this applies to wall warts (power supplies, remote
control modules, etc...) too.
That may be new as a code requirement some places, but as a reason for
putting the ground pin up, it's been around a long time. I recall
reading it in a home workshop guide from the 1950s, can't recall which,
that I got at a used book fair years ago.
firstname.lastname@example.org is Joshua Putnam
Actually that would explain a lot of things. Every so often I run across a
heavy power adapter where the bulk of the adapter points UP in an outlet. I
totally hate those things because they do flop down unless the ground is
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