Plug Paradoxes — 1000Bulbs.com Blog



It’s happened to me often—almost every time I go to string a set of Christmas lights together . . . or start hooking up my latest electronic toys . . . the plug doesn’t fit the outlet! It can be maddening! I never really considered why there were different plugs and outlets, I just started over or found another solution. But then I got to wondering why there are differences. And what I found out makes me want to pay closer attention.

Simply speaking, inserting a plug into an electrical outlet completes a circuit of electricity. When electricity is flowing through a completed circuit, your things (lamps, computers, chargers, etc.) are on. To establish this flow, an outlet has a “hot” side (right), where the electrical current comes in from your home or building’s circuit breaker board, and a neutral side (left) that returns the current back to the circuit breaker, thus completing the circuit. Most homes have outlets with three holes; the bottom one is the ground hole. The ground hole is connected to a separate wire that neutralizes dangerous electrical currents into the ground. This extra level of safety is code in most, if not all, new constructions. Because plugs can go into these outlets in only one way, ensuring that the hot side houses the hot prong and the neutral side houses the neutral prong, these outlets are considered polarized. If your home or building does not have polarized outlets with separate ground holes, contact a licensed electrician to help you get updated.





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