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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Default What is the purpose of these "ears" on a switch or receptacle?

    My house is wired all in EMT conduits and metal boxes.

    When I mount a new switch to a box I use the middle slots at the top and bottom of the device. There are four ears at each corner of the device. What are those for?

    I noticed sometimes they are clipped off?

    In fact, I have an exposed box in the garage, one of these guys, and the switches have to be attached to the back side of the cover, these ears are in the way.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: What is the purpose of these "ears" on a switch or receptacle?

    during rough electrical sometimes the boxes are not perfectly flush with the wall or plaster on top of blueboard will make the box slightly recessed behind the face of the wall. as you know, the outlet has to sit flush with the face of the wall for the faceplate to fit properly. these ears are designed so that the outlet can sit flush with the finished wall and a faceplate can be properly installed.

    when installing an outlet or light switch in a metal box that's mounted "onto" a wall, then the ears are not needed and will interfere with the small metal faceplate. that's why the ears are notched, so that they can be bent and snapped off.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Pacific Northwet

    Default Re: What is the purpose of these "ears" on a switch or receptacle?

    The ears can also be snapped off and used as spacer washers under the mounting screw, if desired.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

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