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  1. #1
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    Default Upside down outlets

    I recently had a short hospital stay due to an accident. While I was there I noticed that most of the outlets were 20 amp outlets. This is of course not strange the strange part was that all of them were mounted upside down. What would the purpose of this be? These weren't just in one little area of the hospital but everywhere. It just seemed odd to me. Thanks

    Mike

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    There is really no such thing as an upside down plug ........ unless its written in the manufacturer's installation instructions or written on the outlet (some actually have "top" written on them) you can install the receptacle in any direction you like.

    The Electrical Code doesn't require a specific orientation of a duplex outlet. Most often the ground is at the bottom, but the outlet can be mounted horizontally as well as vertically.

    Many prefer that the ground be located at the bottom .... the thinking is if the plug works loose the ground remains in contact longer. If mounted horizontally most prefer to have the neutral (wide blade) side up so any foreign object that falls onto a partly exposed blade would contact either the neugral or the ground.

    GFCIs often have the test/reset indicators labeled so they can be read whether the ground is up or down. In other words ...... it's a choice.

    In the IEEE standard 602-1996, section 4.2.2 ...... advises that hospital-grade outlets be used and that they should be mounted with the ground pin or neutral blade up to assure that any metal that may drop between the plug and the wall will most likely contact an unenergized blade.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by canuk View Post
    There is really no such thing as an upside down plug ........ unless its written in the manufacturer's installation instructions or written on the outlet (some actually have "top" written on them) you can install the receptacle in any direction you like.

    The Electrical Code doesn't require a specific orientation of a duplex outlet. Most often the ground is at the bottom, but the outlet can be mounted horizontally as well as vertically.

    Many prefer that the ground be located at the bottom .... the thinking is if the plug works loose the ground remains in contact longer. If mounted horizontally most prefer to have the neutral (wide blade) side up so any foreign object that falls onto a partly exposed blade would contact either the neugral or the ground.

    GFCIs often have the test/reset indicators labeled so they can be read whether the ground is up or down. In other words ...... it's a choice.

    In the IEEE standard 602-1996, section 4.2.2 ...... advises that hospital-grade outlets be used and that they should be mounted with the ground pin or neutral blade up to assure that any metal that may drop between the plug and the wall will most likely contact an unenergized blade.
    and that is one reason that most electricians will argue that, that is actually the correct way and the other way is upside down. so like in a lot of things relating to construction it can be a matter of opinion.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by havanagranite View Post
    and that is one reason that most electricians will argue that, that is actually the correct way and the other way is upside down. so like in a lot of things relating to construction it can be a matter of opinion.
    Yep .... I know 2 sparkys that are cousins to each other.
    One works with commercial ( universities and hospitals as well ) .... the other residential and light commercial.
    They have their differences of opinions .... quite funny hearing them argue who's right or wrong.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    This has been the standard at hospitals in my area for quite some time. My electrician said it is because with the movement of beds and equipment, electrical devices can become partially unplugged, revealing the conductors. Should something fall between those conductors it would cause a short, which would be a bad thing in a hospital environment, so to prevent such catastrophes, outlets are installed "upside down" so that the neutral takes the "short", and the circuit remains unaffected.

    IMHO, I think there is wisdom to this theory, however, in the typical household the likelihood of a partial unplugging of an electrical device is slim. In a commercial or hospital application, absolutely, there is the possibility, but residential I'm not convinced.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    Thanks that makes sense now as to why it was done this way. Just looked odd as I along with most people have the ground on the bottom in their homes.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    Back in the late eighties I did almost exclusive electrical build outs for MOB (Medical Office Building) tenant finish and saw this spec for 100% of the build outs, for the reasons, as it was explained to me, explained above, ^^^....... I guess metal clip boards hung on a nail in the wall for charts and sliding down the wall, shorting out receptacles must have been a dilemma of epic proportions at one time.

    Although, at the time we installed most receptacles horizontal and not vertical. Still, to most electricians it is just as odd to see grounds on the left and not the right on receptacles mounted horizontaly, but grounds on the left puts the neutral “up”.

    Kind of interesting that I am finding myself back in project management for projects in the same MOB’s I used to work in and have looked at a variety of different engineered drawings. I have not seen this spec in five years after reviewing hundreds of different drawings.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    I didn't know that religion was allowed on these boards.

    The reasons for orienting a receptacle with the ground pin up are valid and good ideas. But many housewives will insist that it just doesn't look right unless you have two cute little faces staring at you from the wall.

    The receptacle for your refrigerator will probably work best with the ground pin mounted up, as most fridges have a right-angle plug which, when the cord is hanging down, have the ground pin at the top. If the receptacle is ground-pin-down, this puts undue stress on the cord. Unfortunately, it's inconsistent for other right-angle plugs. For example, most hair dryers have a GFI plug which is designed so the cord hangs down when plugged into a ground-pin-down receptacle.

    If the NEC and NEMA established a standard orientation, it would simplify things: installations would be uniform, and so would cord design. Of course we'd still have to contend with billions of legacy receptacles and appliances that have the cord going the wrong way.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    I installed all my outlets ground wire up. I believe in NY it is code now. Then again I was also told that bedrooms now require arc fault breakers, so I did that too. When I had the inspection I was told I didn't have too. Hey if they are safer what the heck.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Upside down outlets

    Quote Originally Posted by rwhnze View Post
    I installed all my outlets ground wire up. I believe in NY it is code now. Then again I was also told that bedrooms now require arc fault breakers, so I did that too. When I had the inspection I was told I didn't have too. Hey if they are safer what the heck.
    According to the NEC AFCI are required in most rooms now. Kitchens being the main exception, but they would be covered by GFCIs. And yes I do know different technologies involved there.
    Inspectors in PA are in the same boat. PA involved a UCC in 2005 and never really followed up with it as well. So most inspectors use sound judgment and the latest NEC as guidelines for inspections.

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