Author Topic: Have You Ever Wondered Why  (Read 8828 times)

Offline Solar

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Have You Ever Wondered Why
« on: October 12, 2010, 12:31:20 PM »
The electrical plug has two different sized prongs on it?

Simply to protect the user at home.
Remember the Edison screw in socket?


Notice the threads on the bulb? Those are the Neutral, or Ground connection, one in the same.
The base, or tip of the bulb is the Hot connection
Lets say you were screwing in a bulb and the connections were reversed, you hold the outlet as shown above in brass color, and you screw the bulb in and accidentally touch the threaded part of the bulb, the result would be a nasty shock.

So what they did was to make it so you can't make that mistake by forcing you to plug the cord into the right connection.

You may all have heard the myth that it is a noise issue in computers, bt that is flat wrong, you can reverse the connection on the computer connection, it makes no difference, especially since the majority of the computer works off of a DC transformer, or power supply, this works as a filter all on it's own.

The same goes for the three pronged plug, there is only one Hot prong, the other two are merely redundant, the other two are referred to as Neutral and Ground, they are identical in their connection.

In most cases, if you have an old outlet that has only the two prong Female connection, feel free to eliminate the longer round prong, it is technically useless.

For example, notice the adapter, it has a strip of copper that you would normally screw into the center of the Female outlet, but the problem with this is, most outlets you buy today, come with a plastic screw, making no connection whatsoever.

So there you have it, the reason for the odd sized prong.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 01:59:48 PM by admin »
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Re: Have You Rver Wondered Why
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2010, 01:58:21 PM »
LOL I have  Edison screw in socket yet at home LOL The good wife just love very old lamps.   ;D
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tbone0106

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2010, 11:56:59 PM »
LOL! Yes, your info about the prongs is generally correct, but I'll argue with you about the "third" ground prong.

First, a couple short stories...

I was working on an ex-GF's house some years back, and she told me that her ex-hubby had fixed up a bedroom for one of the kids, but the kid complained of getting shocked every time he touched the lights. It didn't take long to find that her ex thought white on brass was OK for his outlets. Zap.

Later in the same project, the ex-GF was telling me about a shower/tub light her ex tried to put in, but could never get right. She told me that he wired it up, fired it up, and flipped the switch, only to have a large orange spark just about take his hand off. He sent a kid to the basement to reset the breaker, then did the same thing again, producing another orange spark. (What was it Einstein said about insanity?) When I removed the switch cover for said light, I found the switch wired with the hot on one side and the neutral on the other; the lead to the light had been taped and pushed aside.

Never underestimate the power of idiocy. As one of my college instructors liked to say, "You can make a thing foolproof, but you can never make it damned-fool proof."

Final anecdote: When I was young and had bought my first house, my dad gave me an old Craftsman drill, a piece he had inherited from my grandfather. It was a brute of a thing, with a metal casing and a 1/4" chuck. It ran at a steady 1600 rpm, and it had a three-prong "grounded" plug. Either my father or my grandfather had, in the common fashion of the day, removed that "ground" prong. (Electrical outlets with three holes were kinda rare in those days.)

I was on a remodeling mission of some sort that involved drilling a hole under the house. A couple drop cords and that modified plug... I was lying on my back on moist dirt when I touched the trigger of that old drill, and I am frankly lucky to be alive to be writing about it. ZOWIE!!!!! That hurt!

My beef with removing (or defeating) the "ground" prong is that, unless you're VERY familiar with things electrical, you're apt to kill your damn self. (I will except computer equipment from this discussion, and reserve it for the "Anal-Retentive" thread.) In some cases, as with my old drill, the appliance NEEDS that third path. In the early days of the "safety ground," or third prong, the two main prongs -- the "hot" and the "neutral" were exactly the same size. The third prong served as much as an indexing tool as an extra ground. As long as that third prong was there, even a "damned fool" couldn't plug it in wrong.

These days, even three-prong plugs are "polarized," meaning that the neutral prong is wider than the "hot" one. But back in 1970-something when I was jittering around under that house with that metal monster in my hand, I didn't yet appreciate all these things.

Offline Solar

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2010, 08:42:16 AM »
I still have one of those Craftsman drills, slow but pretty good torque.
But they never came with a third ground if I remember correctly, they were made with a short pigtail two prong male plug.
The problem with them was the aluminum case, if there was any kind of short anywhere in the drill, you got nailed, I know I have on many occasion, mostly due to the old rubber cord having micro fractures at the base of the handle.
If it was a foggy day and you had to work standing on a lawn, you felt a tingle.

I finally replaced the cord on mine, but quit using it because my rechargeable Dewalt does just as good a job with a third the weight.

A third prong dedicated to just the case wouldn't have hurt, but probably wouldn't have made any difference either.

Oh and I should clarify, none of the info in the OP applies to GFCI plugs or outlets, that is a whole other monster.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2010, 09:01:15 AM by Solar »
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Offline Solar

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2010, 09:02:52 AM »
Oh and Tbone, I wrote this so as to explain why the article in Scams forum is a ripoff.
Check it out,
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tbone0106

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2010, 12:42:07 AM »
I still have one of those Craftsman drills, slow but pretty good torque.
But they never came with a third ground if I remember correctly, they were made with a short pigtail two prong male plug.
The problem with them was the aluminum case, if there was any kind of short anywhere in the drill, you got nailed, I know I have on many occasion, mostly due to the old rubber cord having micro fractures at the base of the handle.
If it was a foggy day and you had to work standing on a lawn, you felt a tingle.

I finally replaced the cord on mine, but quit using it because my rechargeable Dewalt does just as good a job with a third the weight.

A third prong dedicated to just the case wouldn't have hurt, but probably wouldn't have made any difference either.

Oh and I should clarify, none of the info in the OP applies to GFCI plugs or outlets, that is a whole other monster.

The one I had probably dated to the late 1950's -- my grandpa died in 1963, and the drill was definitely used then. I don't know if the case was aluminum or something else. I know that magnesium alloys were popular for tool casings in those days.

I do recall the days of the 12-inch cords, one of the dumbest ideas to ever come down the pike. I still have an Arrow staple gun with one of those stubby cords. But this old drill was made LONG before then.

Offline Solar

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2010, 08:05:36 AM »
The one I had probably dated to the late 1950's -- my grandpa died in 1963, and the drill was definitely used then. I don't know if the case was aluminum or something else. I know that magnesium alloys were popular for tool casings in those days.

I do recall the days of the 12-inch cords, one of the dumbest ideas to ever come down the pike. I still have an Arrow staple gun with one of those stubby cords. But this old drill was made LONG before then.
You're right, I forgot they were using other alloys, I have always assumed it was aluminum, only because of it's look, but the damned thing sure is heavy for aluminum.


I tried to find a pic of it just now, but can't seem to locate one on the web, that's weird.
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tbone0106

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2010, 12:35:30 AM »
You're right, I forgot they were using other alloys, I have always assumed it was aluminum, only because of it's look, but the damned thing sure is heavy for aluminum.


I tried to find a pic of it just now, but can't seem to locate one on the web, that's weird.

Did yours look like this?



The one my dad gave me looked almost exactly like this one. I'm pretty sure the case was magnesium, a very popular material for tool casings in those days.

FOR SURE, the case conducted electricity VERY well!  :o :o :o

Offline Solar

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 08:33:19 AM »
Did yours look like this?



The one my dad gave me looked almost exactly like this one. I'm pretty sure the case was magnesium, a very popular material for tool casings in those days.

FOR SURE, the case conducted electricity VERY well!  :o :o :o
Had one just like that as well, and If I remember correctly, wasn't that a speed control on the butt of the case?

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tbone0106

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2010, 06:37:51 PM »
That projection on the butt looks like some sort of speed control, but I can't say for sure what it is. I got the shot from an eBay listing. But my drill was virtually identical to the one in the pic except for that thing on the butt.

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2010, 08:48:20 PM »
That projection on the butt looks like some sort of speed control, but I can't say for sure what it is. I got the shot from an eBay listing. But my drill was virtually identical to the one in the pic except for that thing on the butt.

Adjusting the resolution by 200 or 300 the butt looks like a speed control.
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2011, 12:31:47 AM »
Isn't the extra prong the Mechanical Ground.

In each three hole electrial plug in device You have a screw that you can attach a green mechanical ground wire to. Some electrical specs call for a green mechanical ground run back to the Breaker box. Other wise if your using conduit the box and conduit act as the mechanical ground. If you use BX armored cable the mechanical ground integrity is questionable.

To many people wire whole houses using two conductor Romex. That's stupid, because you have NO mechanical ground and there is a danger of fire from the breaker not shutting off the power.
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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2011, 04:09:20 AM »
I have a two-part question for someone:

I had to take a wall light (which is operated by a wall switch) out because it was shorting out. I unscrewed the wires, and it has three screws on the back, not two. There is a white wire, a blue wire, and a copper wire with no shielding at all. Weird thing was which poles the wires were hooked to. I don't get it. Is that copper wire a neccessity? Can I buy a socket that just has two screw-ons?


Offline Solar

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2011, 06:43:37 AM »
Isn't the extra prong the Mechanical Ground.

In each three hole electrial plug in device You have a screw that you can attach a green mechanical ground wire to. Some electrical specs call for a green mechanical ground run back to the Breaker box. Other wise if your using conduit the box and conduit act as the mechanical ground. If you use BX armored cable the mechanical ground integrity is questionable.

To many people wire whole houses using two conductor Romex. That's stupid, because you have NO mechanical ground and there is a danger of fire from the breaker not shutting off the power.

You're right, but it is just laws still in effect.
There is no difference it the two grounds, they both share the same pathway back to the breaker box.
I have no doubt it will change, but it will be a slow process.
They see it as a back up protection, a redundant one, obviously, but back up none the less.

Though, I will give them one thing, a secondary ground can carry nearly twice the current, but if the current is that high, something is going to burn if the breaker doesn't trip, so does it really matter?
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Offline Solar

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Re: Have You Ever Wondered Why
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2011, 06:49:56 AM »
I have a two-part question for someone:

I had to take a wall light (which is operated by a wall switch) out because it was shorting out. I unscrewed the wires, and it has three screws on the back, not two. There is a white wire, a blue wire, and a copper wire with no shielding at all. Weird thing was which poles the wires were hooked to. I don't get it. Is that copper wire a neccessity? Can I buy a socket that just has two screw-ons?


How old is that thing?
I can't tell much from looking at the switch, the light would be more important.
IF the light is nothing special, or not part of a shared connection, it probably doesn't matter.

Verify the light is up to code and wired normally, 110 volts, etc, if so just install the switch you like.
Oh, and the wiring in the house wouldn't have cloth wrapping around it, would it?
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