Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Make Six Outets into Three

Today I had one of those modern-age moments. You know how older houses don't have enough outlets for all of our electronics these days, so people plug in power strips to make more outlets?

But who designed these power strips? Have they done any user testing? Here's an example:

This strip has six outlets in it, with a window air conditioning unit plugged in. But because the plug is grounded (of course), and has lots of extra stuff built in, the plug covers up two more of the available outlets than it's using.

And note that even a fourth outlet is unusable by other grounded plugs, because the air conditioner cord sticks out in front of the ground opening.

All the designers of the power strip would have to do is rotate the outlets 180 degrees along the strip, so that plugs with big dongly bits could run off the end instead of covering up the other outlets. But no.

This is the kind of thing that 99 percent of science fiction writers get wrong about the future. It will have just as many stupid details as the past.


Michael Leddy said...

I just looked at my power strip — they’re all facing the right way. But still a pretty snug fit between outlets.

Daughter Number Three said...

A comment sent to me by email from someone named Nat explains it all:

"Due to recent electrical code changes wall outlets are now installed with the ground port up. The theory is if something metallic falls into the space between a half plugged-in plug and the outlet, it will contact the ground prong first instead of an energized prong.

The AC unit (fairly new?) is designed to plug into a code-compliant wall outlet allowing its cord to hang down neatly.

The outlet strip of yours (older?) has yet to be redesigned for these changes."

Makes sense!