A plug adapter is a device of convenience. You can use plug adapters to plug your appliances with a three-prong plug into the two-slot electric outlet. They are commonly known as travel adapter, ground plug adapter, and cheater’s plug. People who travel often or people living in old homes usually face this problem. Travellers call it a universal adapter as it can fit three-prong plugs and plugs of different shapes into the two-slot outlet.

They are the cheapest and easiest solution. But, they are not the safest. Read on to know the safety concerns of the plug adapter and the possible alternatives.

Difference Between Two-Slot and Three-Slot Outlets

As the name suggests, older outlets used to have two slots only. But the modern outlets which are used today have three slots. Both new and old outlets contain a slim hot slot and a broad neutral slot. Modern outlets include one more round slot. It is the ground slot.

The ground slot is added for giving the passage to electricity towards the ground. In the older outlets where this passage was not given, there was a higher risk of shock as the electricity will pass through the human body only to the ground if it doesn’t find another pathway.

Why are Plug Adapters Not Safe?

You use a plug adapter or connecting three-prong plugs to two-slot electric outlets. But this socket is designed for two-prong plugs. Will it have the capacity to provide current to appliances with three-prong plugs without any safety hazard? Of course, not. A plug adapter is a temporary solution that is not suitable for the long run.

If there is a faulty electric current, it will be sent to the breaker box via the ground wiring in modern three-slot outlets. In contrast, older two-slot outlets might not have a ground pathway for their wiring. Thus there is no way for electricity to reach the ground. It will use your body as a medium, which means an electric shock. The risk increases with a faulty electrical appliance.

How to Check if the Electric Box is Grounded?

With all the emphasis on the grounded electrical box, how do you know if your box is grounded or not? There are two devices available in the market to check if your electrical box is grounded or not. They are Multimeter and circuit tester. However, the reading can be deceptive if the walls of your house are made of concrete.

It will be wise to call an electrician to check the grounding. If your outlet is grounded, it is safe to use a plug adapter. But it is not a long term solution. Sooner or later, you will need to upgrade your outlets.

Limitations of Ground Plug Adopter

The usability of the ground plug adapter depends on the kind of the electric system of the house. If the circuit boxes and conduits are metal-based, it is comparatively safe. The current can pass on to the ground via a metal circuit box. However, it would help if you double-checked that there is a metal conduit. A metal box alone will not solve the purpose.

But the boxes and outlets with plastic as their base material cannot pass on the current to the ground. So it is highly recommended not to use plug adapters where there is a plastic wall box.

No Insurance & No Warranty

If an unfortunate incident occurs because you were using a plug adapter with three-prong plugs, you won’t get any insurance benefit. The insurance company will not compensate for the loss of property or the loss of human life due to shock. The warranty for appliances will also not be applicable if used with a travel adapter while getting damaged.

What is the Alternative?

As we have established here that to use a plug adapter is not a permanent solution. So what can be done with an outdated electrical system? You can install a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. GFCI will interrupt any shock reaching your body from a faulty appliance. But, updating the older outlet with a grounded three-slot electric outlet is your best bet. You need to arrange the grounding system. A new three-slot outlet is required with proper circuit cables and ground wires.

D&F Liquidators are always there to help you update all types of outlets, wiring& circuits of your home. We have a large inventory of electrical supplies, safety switches, and circuit breakers. Contact us here or call 800-458-9600.