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Electrical Outlets, Rightside Up? My Response...

Posted by Dodgeman on March 1st, 2002 12:15 PM

I reposted at the top of the board since it took me so long to respond.
I never would have thought that the discussions on this subject would be so polarized! So much so that I decided to take the time to do further
research. I am fortunate to have access to International Standards. This is what I found:
Currently there are 15 "standard" plug/socket patterns Worldwide for single phase voltages & frequencies.
(5) Of these are 2-prong with power and neutral only, with 3 of the 5 being for 220-240 volts. Of the
remaining 10, which are all 3-prong, (power, neutral, ground) only 2 are shown with the ground terminal up.
These are the standard outlets found in Bermuda, Hong Kong, India, Kuwait, N.Ireland, Pakistan, Portugal,
South Africa, and United Kingdom to name some but not all.
In North America, the standard indicates the ground terminal DOWN. This is also true for 3-prong outlets
used in Greenland, France, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Israel, Peru, S.Korea, & China. Again, I did not
list all the countries.
Beyond the standards, (This is where my opinion comes in) I believe the overwhelming reason for ground
down is because if a grounded power tool or appliance is connected to the outlet, and the plug begins to
drop out, the last thing you want disconnected is the ground. Otherwise, one could find themselves
operating a power tool with no ground, and the tool still energized, with the possibility of the operator
becoming the path to ground.
I think common sense needs to prevail here. The chances of a "metal object" falling on an exposed hot
terminal partially pulled out of the wall represents a much lower hazard and risk level than operating a
power tool with the ground terminal disconnected. After all, when is the last time you've seen any "metal
object" fall on a partially pulled plug? I have never seen this. In addition, with all the 2-prong plugs used on
lamps, double insulated tools, etc, there is no ground plug to prevent the "metal object" from falling on the
hot terminal. If this were a major concern, then the plug terminals for the hot and neutral would be turned
sideways with the neutral up.
One last thought, if the outlet is installed sideways, common sense would also indicate the ground be to the
right, so the hot lug would be the first to fall out, otherwise the neutral would come out first, leaving an
energized tool.
Maybe what we need is an outlet with plugs that snap into place and can't fall out? No, that wouldn't work,
because my wife wouldn't be able to unplug the vacuum cleanear by jerking on the cord halfway across the
Best Regards and thank you for everyone's input
Ground Side Down Dodgeman

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