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Old 04-15-2002, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 3,226
Why are hotel bathroom electrical outlets upside down?

I've been to a variety of hotels in my 31 years and they all seem to share the same upside-down plugs...meaning the hole for the third prong is above the two parallel plug holes rather than below.

Now, I only notice this in the bathroom because that's where I'm always plugging in a hair-dryer, so I'm not sure if it goes for the rest on the outlets in the room. However, it seems to be a very consistant feature in bathrooms from Holiday Inn to The Four Seasons.

What gives?
Old 04-15-2002, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Lovely Montclair, NJ
Posts: 12,439
Just a data point here. My apartment was wired with all the plugs upside down, every single damn one of them. Can't tell you how many times I've tried to put a polarized plug in and had to turn it around....

This is also a place that has every single overhead fixture and every outlet outside of the bathroom and kitchen on a single circuit breaker (15 amp) but has THE bathroom outlet wired to it's own dedicated circuit breaker.
Old 04-15-2002, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Central VIC Australia
Posts: 2,200
It's that way in my house, too.
The theory is that if the appliance is partially out of the socket, anything draping/landing on top of the plug will hit the grounding prong, not the live ones, thus preventing a shocking event.
Old 04-15-2002, 05:07 PM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Ohio
Posts: 10,802
Originally posted by galen ubal
It's that way in my house, too.
The theory is that if the appliance is partially out of the socket, anything draping/landing on top of the plug will hit the grounding prong, not the live ones, thus preventing a shocking event.
I’ve read the same thing, i.e. an outlet should be installed “ground up” in case the (metallic) plate comes loose. The reasoning is that the plate will land on the ground plug (if the ground plug is exposed) and render the plate “safe.” But I’ve never installed an outlet this way because I think it’s more difficult to align the plug in the socket.
Old 04-15-2002, 06:45 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Bubbaville
Posts: 4,885
I think this is a subject of debate among some electricians (who need to get a hobby, IMHO.) Like Crafter_Man said, the idea is that if something touches the electrodes it will touch the ground first. You won't get electrocuted if you touch it, and the circuit will short to ground if it touches the hot.

It makes sense, but people are used to seeing a "face" on their outlets, so residential electricians tend not to do it. Commercial electricians wire things with other tradespersons in mind so they probably feel like they can get away with the "upside-down" orientation.
Old 04-15-2002, 07:03 PM
Voodoo Adult (Slight Return)
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Posts: 25,088
I've heard it's electrical code in North Carolina to wire them upside down like that. It may have theoretical advantages galore, but you know what the real problem is? Transformer blocks that are weighted in such a way as to only stay in properly when the ground hole is on the bottom.
Old 04-15-2002, 09:04 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Washington dc
Posts: 16,441
hmmmm... that's strange, most of the ones I've seen have the ground on top... and that's the way I like it

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