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Wow, I Would Have Never Thought...

Posted by Dodgeman on February 28th, 2002 01:20 PM
In reply to Electrical Outlets - Rightside Up? by Dodgeman on February 25th, 2002 10:00 PM [Go to top of thread]

That the discussions on this would be so polarized! So much so that I decided to take the time to do further research on the subject. 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 room!
Best Regards and thank you for everyone's input
Ground Side Down Dodgeman

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