3-Prong Cords & Outlets

August 23, 2023

3-Prong Cords & Outlets

Have you ever wondered what the purpose is for the third prong on the end of an electrical appliance cord? Why do some appliances, electronics, and outlets have them and others only have two-pongs? Are 3-prong cords and outlets important to you and your home’s safety?

The simple answer is yes, the third prong on the end of an electrical cord is important, and it’s important to your safety.

The average electrical outlet has 15-20Amps and the average home has 120-240 Volts, which is a dangerous amount of force. Heavy duty appliances such as microwaves, slow-cookers, blenders, toasters, laptops/computers, and gaming systems require larger and consistent amounts of electricity.

What is the Third Prong on an Electrical Cord?

It is the ground wire. This ground wire behind the outlet is most often bare copper, although green colour wiring is also used.

What Does the Ground Wire Do?

The purpose of the third prong at the end your devices and appliances is to ground the metal parts of the appliances. If an electrical fault occurs and electricity escapes its circuit, it will then seek the path of least resistance to the ground. The third prong port of an outlet provides electricity with that path of least resistance back to the panel allowing the breaker to trip during a fault.  The ground wire prevents you from possible electrocution.

3-Prong Cords & Outlets

The technical name for outlets is receptacle.

For more information on grounding click here.

Three Points of Access

  1. The hot wire port carries the electricity from the panel to the appliance.
  2. The neutral wire then carries the electricity back to the panel once it has reached the appliance.
  3. The ground wire is the safety net that prevents the possibility of shock.3-Prong Cords & Outlets

Upgrading Two Pronged / Ungrounded Outlets

Older homes may not have outlets that accept three pronged electrical plugs. Therefore, some people think it’s okay to remove the grounding prong to accommodate the two-pronged electrical outlets. This is an unwise practice as the third prong acts as a safety feature in the event of an electrical fault. Below are two options you can take in order to plug a 3-prong cord into an outlet.

Rewire Your Outlets

Rewiring your outlets requires a licensed electrician to install new updated three-pronged outlets. The electrician will have to run a ground wire directly from the panel to each outlet. This is the best permanent option to bring electricity safely to all your home’s appliances. The electrical Code also allows the installation of GFCI receptacles in an ungrounded system to provide protection against shock.

Adapters / Cheater Plugs

There are adapters known as cheater plugs, that will allow you to plug a three-pronged plug into a two-pronged outlet. Cheater plugs can be bought at most hardware stores. But they should not be a permanent solution for connecting a two-pronged outlet into three-pronged plug.

For any questions regarding outlets please call Blue Crest Electric for assistance.

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