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Pet Peeve – Why Do Electrical Plugs Rarely Fit Into the Sockets?

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Ever since we started to see the two pronged electrical plug (Type A) with the neutral line being wider, I have had issues with them. These redesigned plugs were created for the plug to be inserted in one orientation only. The outlet and plug are polarized to prevent devices that do not incorporate current flow protection like simple toasters from being live while inactive causing a potential fire or shock hazard.

The reasoning behind this design makes  perfect sense but unfortunately is not very practical for me. I find that 4 out of 5 times I pick up the glug to insert, I pick up the plug in the wrong position thus the plug does not go into the socket and I need to twist the cable around. This also creates a second problem in that most cables are so sfiff it becomes a chore to twist the cable to accomodate the outlet easily.

Over the years, I have thought about remounting the outlets to accomodate the cable but since we now have a three way plug which includes a ground wire, this poses another problem if the outlets were to be mounted upside down. I do not have a problem as much with the three pronged plug since for some reason these always seem to orient themselves with the ground wire on the bottom before I pick the cable up. This is not so with the two pronged plugs.

In Japan, the electrical cables are still the two pronged ones that fit in any direction since their electrical system is unpolarized. This just means the manufacturers are required to incorporate a simple circuit within their electrical devices to ensure that the current can flow into the device in either direction without any safety concerns. The standards for manufacturing are far stricter in Japan but ensures that the consumer has less to worry about when using electrical appliances. Typically the materials used in the cable in Japan are also softer making them easier to handle. Power bars in North America are the worst with the stiffest cables around. These are typically folded in the packaging and the bends can never be removed to fully extend the short power cable.

Just to be consistant and to make life so much easier for people like me, I would like to see all electrical devices have a three pronged plug which means having a ground wire included. This would provide the added protection from shock or fire hazard. The electrical outlet design in North America is old and needs reworking I feel and it is about time that the industry put forth new recommendations that makes the electrical outlet easier to use but also more universal world wide. This will make our lives easier and provide that added level of consumer protection we need.

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