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Old 11-23-2015, 10:17 PM
lithrawind@gmail.com is offline
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Is there such a thing as a polarized to non-polarized adapter?


Because if there is, I can't find it ANYWHERE. My house is old enough that several of the outlets are non-polarized and I can't find ANY adapters ANYWHERE with male non-polarized plugs. Anybody know where I can get such an adapter, or know a magical description of it that I can put into Google that won't just give me a bunch of European or 2-to-3 adapters?
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:32 PM
Hail Ants is offline
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A polarized to non-polarized adapter is the same thing as a three-prong to two-prong adapter, like this. Three-prong to two-prong adapters are always non-polarized, IOW the two male plugs are the same size and can be plugged in either right-side up or upside-down (hence non-polarized). Even though most of the time people don't do it, you're supposed to connect the metal tab with the hole in it to the face plate screw in the outlet, which is in turn grounded, essentially creating a three-prong, grounded connection.
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:38 PM
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Well, since most of the outlets in my house that aren't non-polarized don't have three prongs, I've bought a lot of two-to-three prong adapters, and none of them fit in my non-polarized outlets. As I found it during my search, a 'polarized' plug is just one that will only fit one way into an outlet, so the two-prongs with one big prong and one small prong are polarized. And I looked up what I think is the same orange adapter as that one on Amazon; according to the question-and-answer section the male prongs are in fact different sizes even though it doesn't look like it in the picture.
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Three-prong to two-prong adapters are always non-polarized, IOW the two male plugs are the same size and can be plugged in either right-side up or upside-down (hence non-polarized).
Not always. These 3-prong to 2-prong adapters are polarized on the 2-prong side.
  #5  
Old 11-23-2015, 11:13 PM
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Travel accessories tend to be overpriced, but a travel power adapter for Japan should be non-polarized because non-polarized 2-prong outlets are still very common in Japan.
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Even though most of the time people don't do it, you're supposed to connect the metal tab with the hole in it to the face plate screw in the outlet, which is in turn grounded, essentially creating a three-prong, grounded connection.
Well, it might be.
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:42 PM
lithrawind@gmail.com is offline
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Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
Travel accessories tend to be overpriced, but a travel power adapter for Japan should be non-polarized because non-polarized 2-prong outlets are still very common in Japan.
And using a Japanese adapter wouldn't cause any voltage issues with my USA lights, electronics etc? That's probably a stupid question, but I know nothing about how the things actually work
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by lithrawind@gmail.com View Post
And using a Japanese adapter wouldn't cause any voltage issues with my USA lights, electronics etc? That's probably a stupid question, but I know nothing about how the things actually work
I'm talking about a purely passive adapter like this. These don't contain any circuitry to alter the voltage.
  #9  
Old 11-24-2015, 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
I'm talking about a purely passive adapter like this. These don't contain any circuitry to alter the voltage.
OK, thanks. So this one would do the job for me? http://voltage-converter-transformer...-non-polarized
  #10  
Old 11-24-2015, 04:25 AM
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The best and safest thing to do is just replace the receptacle with a GFCI. This ensures that the narrow blade is always connected to hot and provides the added safety of a GFCI.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a ground for a GFCI to work and it's fully code compliant.
  #11  
Old 11-24-2015, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by FinsToTheLeft View Post
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a ground for a GFCI to work and it's fully code compliant.
True, but there must also be a sticker on the receptacle that says, "No equipment ground."
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Old 11-24-2015, 07:23 AM
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Questions that come up:
Back in the day, were receptacles always wired with the hot on the right, so such an adapter, assuming diligent use, wouldn't create a hazard?

Why not make 2 pin GFCIs for when there is no equipment ground?

I wonder what percentage of the three to two pin adapters were actually used properly. 1%?
  #13  
Old 11-24-2015, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
Questions that come up:
Back in the day, were receptacles always wired with the hot on the right, so such an adapter, assuming diligent use, wouldn't create a hazard?

Why not make 2 pin GFCIs for when there is no equipment ground?

I wonder what percentage of the three to two pin adapters were actually used properly. 1%?
1. In very early days, no. In later days moreso. Without knowing the location and age of the construction we can't say more. And even with that knowledge probably still can't.

Further, nothing in human history is always 100%. If I was living in a place like that I'd test each outlet to be sure. Heck, when I moved here a yearish ago I had to reverse 3 outlets in a place that was 1980s construction and comprehensively remodeled just 10 years ago. Regardless of rules and then-current industry practices, folks just don't get this right all that reliably.

2. The whole issue is that you have devices that have cords with male ends with 3 prongs. So you need an outlet (GFCI or no) with 3 physical holes. Whether the ground hole is electrically active is a different question. You need the three holes for mechanical mating. Yes, one could install a hypothetical 2-hole GFCI then use a 3-to-2 adapter, but that seems ... silly.

3. Probably not even that many IMO/IME. Not to mention that (ref Peremensoe) there's no assurance that the faceplate center screw actually leads to an adequate reliable path to Earth ground.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-24-2015 at 07:39 AM.
  #14  
Old 11-24-2015, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle
Back in the day, were receptacles always wired with the hot on the right, so such an adapter, assuming diligent use, wouldn't create a hazard?
Back in the day, it was common for receptacles to be installed horizontally so you just have to be careful.

For the OP, I can't tell if these are polarized or not, but you can probably buy a fistful of them and a file or a pair of "dikes" to "depolarize" them if needed, and snip off the useless grounding tab. . Also probably cheaper than travel plug adapters.

Alternately, a small old neighborhood hardware store might still have non-plarized adapters. These things used to be ambidextrous...no idea when they changed the design.
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Old 11-24-2015, 01:12 PM
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If you've got spare 3 prong to two prong adaptors, you can use a pair of dykes, or a moto-tool to trim off the excess metal on the overly wide prong.
Needless to say, some will say this is a terrible idea, and should never be attempted.
  #16  
Old 11-24-2015, 01:28 PM
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Deliberately defeating safety measures isn't always a terrible idea, if you know exactly what you're dealing with. But if you're going to do all that, why not just replace the devices in the wall?
  #17  
Old 11-24-2015, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
True, but there must also be a sticker on the receptacle that says, "No equipment ground."
These stickers usually come in the box with the GFCI outlet, just need to attach them.
  #18  
Old 11-24-2015, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
Not always. These 3-prong to 2-prong adapters are polarized on the 2-prong side.
Wow, I've never seen one of these. And I don't understand why they would exist. Are there such things as polarized two-prong outlets? If so, why? I found this on Google and it's referred to as a 'false ground' or 'false neutral' and not considered very safe. Were they a stop-gap design between old non-polarized two-prong and polarized three-prong? Were/are they a non-USA, foreign outlet design?
  #19  
Old 11-24-2015, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Wow, I've never seen one of these. And I don't understand why they would exist. Are there such things as polarized two-prong outlets? If so, why? I found this on Google and it's referred to as a 'false ground' or 'false neutral' and not considered very safe. Were they a stop-gap design between old non-polarized two-prong and polarized three-prong? Were/are they a non-USA, foreign outlet design?
Wiring a "false ground" will make a home inspector's outlet tester pass it.
  #20  
Old 11-25-2015, 01:16 AM
Peremensoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Wow, I've never seen one of these. And I don't understand why they would exist. Are there such things as polarized two-prong outlets? If so, why?
Yes, they're totally common. So you know which conductor is which, of course; so you can have switches on the right side, for example.

Last edited by Peremensoe; 11-25-2015 at 01:21 AM.
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