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Author Topic: Smiley-face receptacles  (Read 1811 times)

Jonathan Johnson

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Smiley-face receptacles
« on: May 27, 2014, 02:24:08 am »

It's an age-old argument that has been going on since the NEMA 5-20R grounding receptacle came into being: do you orient the receptacle with the ground pin up or the ground pin down?

There are valid reasons for both methods:
  • Ground pin should be UP because if something falls between the plug and the receptacle, it is less likely to hit the hot pin
  • Ground pin should be DOWN because some right-angle plugs are optimized for this orientation
  • Ground pin should be UP because some right-angle plugs are optimized for this orientation
  • Ground pin should be DOWN because the printing on the yoke of the receptacle indicates this orientation
  • Ground pin should be UP because it provides better support for most plugs (excepting #2 above)
  • Ground pin should be DOWN because the wife thinks it should look like a little face
I find that reason #6 is the most commonly cited.

Anyway, the purpose of my post is to relate that at my church's annual campout this weekend, the fairgrounds where we were staying had an outdoor stage (which we did not use). On the stage back wall were two "range plug" receptacles (NEMA 10-50R).

Now I've found that most range plugs are built so that the cord exits at a right angle to the pins on the side OPPOSITE the ground pin. This means that for the cord to hang down, the pin should be UP. Being an outdoor stage, the receptacles were equipped with weather-resistant covers, hinged at the top. Now on this stage, the receptacles were installed with the ground pin down (in the "wife says it must make a face" orientation). This means that the cord would go upward, and run into the cover. Since an 8 AWG 3-wire cord is not particularly flexible, you'd never be able to plug in because the cover would be in the way. Sure enough, someone had flipped the cover on one of the receptacles, so it hinged down. That solved the immediate problem but introduced others: the cover is only weathertight with the hinge at the top, and now with the cord extending upward, there is undue strain on the cord, plug, and receptacle.
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Stop confusing the issue with facts and logic!

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 07:09:22 am »

It's an age-old argument that has been going on since the NEMA 5-20R grounding receptacle came into being: do you orient the receptacle with the ground pin up or the ground pin down?

There are valid reasons for both methods:
  • Ground pin should be UP because if something falls between the plug and the receptacle, it is less likely to hit the hot pin
  • Ground pin should be DOWN because some right-angle plugs are optimized for this orientation
  • Ground pin should be UP because some right-angle plugs are optimized for this orientation
  • Ground pin should be DOWN because the printing on the yoke of the receptacle indicates this orientation
  • Ground pin should be UP because it provides better support for most plugs (excepting #2 above)
  • Ground pin should be DOWN because the wife thinks it should look like a little face
I find that reason #6 is the most commonly cited.

Anyway, the purpose of my post is to relate that at my church's annual campout this weekend, the fairgrounds where we were staying had an outdoor stage (which we did not use). On the stage back wall were two "range plug" receptacles (NEMA 10-50R).

Now I've found that most range plugs are built so that the cord exits at a right angle to the pins on the side OPPOSITE the ground pin. This means that for the cord to hang down, the pin should be UP. Being an outdoor stage, the receptacles were equipped with weather-resistant covers, hinged at the top. Now on this stage, the receptacles were installed with the ground pin down (in the "wife says it must make a face" orientation). This means that the cord would go upward, and run into the cover. Since an 8 AWG 3-wire cord is not particularly flexible, you'd never be able to plug in because the cover would be in the way. Sure enough, someone had flipped the cover on one of the receptacles, so it hinged down. That solved the immediate problem but introduced others: the cover is only weathertight with the hinge at the top, and now with the cord extending upward, there is undue strain on the cord, plug, and receptacle.
Not to mention that the NEMA 10 series is only a three wire system and requires an external ground wire - which presumably isn't generally used, based on other factors at the site.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 05:51:26 pm »

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Shawn Keck

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 08:35:57 pm »

This means that the cord would go upward, and run into the cover.

Most current electrical codes now call for the ground plug to be up...at least in commercial operations. Now there are decades of installs that are ground down...I use CS 50A twist connectors and built two L14-50 to 50A CS adapters with cables going up, two with cables going down and the rest...found an L14-50 range plug with the cable coming straight out!
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 11:20:08 pm »

Jeff Harrell

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2014, 06:19:44 am »

i'll make this short.......NOT ! back in the 80's in california after the investigation it was determined that a paper clip had fallen behind a desk and landed on the hot and neutral prongs(blades) of a plug that was not plugged all the way into the receptical. the remains of the paper clip were still fused on it. the breaker didnt trip because its designed to trip when the max amount of amps is reached to protect the wire from overload. the prongs got hot and caught the plastic plug and wall plate on fire. wall paper and its flamable glue ignighted and a flash fire occured. several peope died. the code was changed in cali and required all recepticals installed form then on to have the ground hole up. it was thought that in a same or similar situation that a metal or conductive object would rotate off and fall to the floor. after years of tresting it was found that it wasnt the case and that many metalic objects rotated slow enought to fuse to the ground prong and the hot prong. so the code was changed again to allow recepticles to be installed with the ground hole in the bottom(sad) position. i am a commercial electrician.
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 11:29:39 am »

i'll make this short.......NOT ! back in the 80's in california after the investigation it was determined that a paper clip had fallen behind a desk and landed on the hot and neutral prongs(blades) of a plug that was not plugged all the way into the receptical.

Our UK plugs have a plastic cover on the live and neutral pins so this can't happen.  Also stops inquisitive little fingers from getting a shock.




Steve.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2014, 12:18:51 pm »

Shoot me now!!!  :o

How about this one.  It has clearance for the Ground pin.


Note, I collect these, I don't use them.  Don't try this at home.
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Kyle Van Sandt

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2014, 02:28:07 pm »

Our UK plugs have a plastic cover on the live and neutral pins so this can't happen.  Also stops inquisitive little fingers from getting a shock.




Steve.

Ya, kind of wish the 5-15 connector would die.  Your plug is the result of what happens when actual electrical safety is taken into account when designing a plug.  It also does not hurt that at the time of design half of the UK needed to be re-wired anyway.  So, adoption was easier. 
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Kyle Van Sandt
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Smiley-face receptacles
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2014, 02:32:09 pm »

The nice thing about the UK plug is that for domestic use, it's the only one we have.  Rather than have a variety of plugs to suit the various current requirements, ours is fitted with a 13 amp, 10 amp, 5 amp or 3 amp fuse as appropriate to the equipment it is connected to.

The original plug had solid brass contacts.  The plastic sleeves were a later modification.


Steve.
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