National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Monday, March 23, 2020


Re: Code Question of the Day 02-10-2020: Hello Mr. Trout,
Following up on your 2/7/2020 answer to the commonly asked question about receptacles, you mentioned the other debate of "which way does the ground go on a receptacle installation, up or down." It would be great if you could further explain, as the idiotic "penny challenge" seems to be a fad, much more ridiculous than the "pet rock" or others as this "challenge" has the potential to be fatal. So why doesn't the NEC require the ground on the up, where if the plug is somewhat ajar and something falls, it won't contact both prongs of the plug?  Did somebody back in the early 1900's flip a coin and we're living with it ever since? I also can't understand how a GFCI receptacle could be completely burnt after the "penny challenge," as I thought it would cut the electricity instantaneously.  Ironically this specific one was installed with the ground up. Always great to look forward to learning more every morning reading your answers.  As a "regular person," it is somewhat amazing too how complicated and technical it is.
Kevin Kayden
Bartow FL


Hi Kevin, thanks for your participation and comments on the CQD. Your passion about this issue is shared by others. The response to the question of receptacle ground up or ground down was correct. A receptacle can be installed in either orientation and meet NEC requirements. The Code does have a new restriction against receptacles  being installed in the "face up" position if the receptacle is located below a sink. See 2020 NEC Section 406.5(G)(2). This change was made due to sufficient technical substantiation. We suggest you turn your passion into a proposed NEC revision by submitting a Public Input to change the Code to require specific orientation relative to the ground contact position of installed receptacles. Remember to include sufficient technical substantiation for making such a change. The NFPA encourages your involvement. This issue has been submitted many times in the past, but never brings any compelling substantiation with it, just hear say and personal preferences. Below is the link to the NEC next edition where such Public Input can be submitted.

ABOUT CQD: The Code Question of the Day (CQD) is NECA and ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine’s flagship National Electrical Code (NEC®) public forum for the industry, sponsored by EATON. The daily distribution of Q&A generates a lively dialogue and shares relative Code-based practical responses.

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CHARLIE TROUT: Charles M. Trout, better known as Charlie, was a nationally known NEC® expert and author. He served on several NEC® technical committees and is past chairman of CMP-12. In 2006 Charlie was awarded the prestigious Coggeshall Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical contracting industry, codes and standards development, and technical training. Even though Charlie passed away in October of 2015, his work continues in spirit. NECA continues to maintain this question forum for its many subscribers in memory and recognition of all his significant contributions to making the NEC what it is today.

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