# *Plse help*Electrical Outlet - Receptacle top and bottom circuit

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by Thanks4helpin, Aug 6, 2015.

1. ### Thanks4helpin Thread Starter New Member

Mar 14, 2012
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Hi there,
I'm so thankful to have this forum where I can ask questions without fear and am very grateful for your kindness and time in replying. where else can i get such a team of electrical experts to assist me at such a timely manner? thank you All about circuits. I know my questions may seem weird to you but I appreciate if you answer them without judgement, there is a good reason for my asking.
My question is based on the diagram attached. I'm confused about whether the top part (A, B, G1) and the bottom part (C,D,G2) in a normal household outlet in a normal canadian home would be connected together. This is a normal household outlet where you plug one appliance on top and one separate appliance on the bottom. What would happen in the following scenerios:
1) If a person touches A and C only - would there be an electrical charge/shock? Why or why not? I assume the same concept applies to B and D
2) If a person touches A and D only - would there be an electrical charge/shock? Why or why not? I assume the same concept applies to B and C.
3) if a person touches A and G2 only - would there be an electrical charge shock? why or why not?
4) if a person touches B and G2 only - would there be an electrical charge shock? why or why not

I'm trying to understand the rationale between the connection of these two. THANK YOU AGAIN for all your help. Have a great week.

*UPDATE* Aug 6 at 11:44pm Thanks for all those who have replied so far!! I am SO grateful. So from the information gathered I conclude that B and D would give you a shock, when A and C should not, or B and C should not, or A and D should not.

Follow up questions:
Which would cause a greater shock, touching A and B together, or B and D?
Which would cause a greater shock, touching B and G1 (which gives you a shock, i have tested it) or B and D and why.

Why or why not. Is it because B and D are two separate circuits, so it provides a greater shock (double the shock of A and B)? or is A and B going to give you a greater shock because the electricity current is more focused?

Lastly, would an appliance work if you somehow configure it to have one prong in B and one in D ?

All these questions are assuming the wiring is AS it should be, by a good electrician in a normal canadian or USA house, and the person is standing on carpet or laminate so the shock isnèt so severe. I assume if the person is standing on the ground outside that would be way, way worse.

Thank you x1000

Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
2. ### #12 Expert

Nov 30, 2010
16,694
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Please try again.

3. ### MaxHeadRoom Expert

Jul 18, 2013
10,851
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No diagram?
But the only side or pin that will give you a shock if touched in a 120v 1ph 15amp outlet is the smaller of the two power pins.
You may feel a shock without even touching any other pin due to natural leakage to earth.
You can also have, Kitchen etc 240v between top and bottom smaller pins.
The neutral and earth ground pin are mutually connected in the service panel, and hence should be at earth ground potential.
Max.

Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
4. ### MaxHeadRoom Expert

Jul 18, 2013
10,851
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I think you have most of the answer in #3.
Just touching B & D can give you a shock dependant on the nature of what the person would be standing on.
A & C are at earth potential.
e.g. of evidence is the screwdriver type testers that have a neon display, the clip must be held for the power being tested to complete a very low current path through ones body to earth ground.
It all to do with the AC return path being taken to earth ground that provides the alternative conductor.
Max.

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5. ### MikeML AAC Fanatic!

Oct 2, 2009
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The following applies to USA and CAN:

The live prongs are B &D. In 99% of residential wiring, B & D are connected together with a breakable tab inside the duplex outlet. (See attached), and this is wired to live 120Vac (the black wire). If the tab has been broken out then there is a possibility that there are two circuits; one to B and a different one to D. Sometimes, B is powered full time, and D is switched, to control a floor lamp, for example.

A & C are connected to Neutral (the white wire), which is at 0Vac potential with respect to earth (water-pipe) ground.

G1 and G1 are connected to the earth ground rod (green wire, or bare wire), and by default, ground the box (if it is metallic) that the duplex outlet is mounted in. Note that the Neutral is jumpered to Earth ground inside the electrical panel...

In my ham shack/electronics shop, I broke out all the tabs in all of the duplex outlets, and ran 3-conductor w/gnd #12AWG Romex to every outlet box. B is fed with 120Vac (Line 1) and D is fed with 120Vac (line2), so that there is 240Vac between B & D, in effect giving me two independent 120V 15A circuits in every outlet box. It also provides the possibility of replacing the duplex outlet with a twist-prong 240V single outlet, so I can power a 240V item anywhere in the room.

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6. ### mcgyvr AAC Fanatic!

Oct 15, 2009
4,791
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and NEVER assume the outlet was wired properly.. with the taps removed.. B "could" be hot/live and "D" neutral and visa versa..
Always check to be sure.. You never know what the last guy/electrician did right/wrong..

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7. ### #12 Expert

Nov 30, 2010
16,694
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Or as I say it, "Never bet your life" (that the other guy was right, that the circuit breaker is off, etc).

One definition of, "broken" is that electricity will either be where it shouldn't be or not be where it should be. The mere fact that you are investigating means danger is available!

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8. ### Thanks4helpin Thread Starter New Member

Mar 14, 2012
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Thank you so much Max, could you kindly elaborate on my question in red. I really appreciate it, thank you so much.

9. ### Thanks4helpin Thread Starter New Member

Mar 14, 2012
19
0
THANK You so much MikeML, especially for your diagram! Seems like we both have a similar way of explaining things. As you are an electrician, could you please answer my follow up question in red in simple terms (as I am obviously way less experienced than the people on this forum..)[/QUOTE]

Thank you AAC Fanatic and Mcgyver (love that show..). I really appreciate your advice as well!! If you have anything more to eleborate on my follow up question in red please kindly do so.

10. ### mcgyvr AAC Fanatic!

Oct 15, 2009
4,791
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First...Your questions are kind of scary to me..
I picture a kid trying to figure out how to shock their sister or hurt someone..
OR cause a house fire or something..
and please don't "TEST" any of this with your body or someone elses.. DEATH can easily occur.

Assuming rubber shoes/fully insulated body..

#1-Which would cause a greater shock, touching A and B together, or B and D
A and B because they are at different potentials (120V difference between them)

#2-Which would cause a greater shock, touching B and G1 (which gives you a shock, i have tested it) or B and D and why.
Same as 1... B and G1 because they are at different potentials. (120V difference between them)

B and D are different circuits BUT they are still the same point "before" the breaker.
Like tree branches.. They are still connected to the same "stump"

#3-Lastly, would an appliance work if you somehow configure it to have one prong in B and one in D ?
No because there is no potential difference between..

As you see shocks as well as providing normal power to a device requires a potential difference (or voltage difference)..
A car battery as 2 posts.. There is 12V difference between them so current can "flow" and stuff works..

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11. ### MikeML AAC Fanatic!

Oct 2, 2009
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One hand on something grounded (like the cold water tap in the kitchen sink) other hand touching B or D will kill you unless the circuit is GFCI protected. If there is a Ground Fault detector on the circuit, and it works, you will likely survive, but feel a nasty shock.
One hand on something grounded (like the cold water tap in the kitchen sink) other hand touching A, C, G1, or G2, you will feel nothing.

Assuming you touch B or D with one hand, and touch any of the grounded prongs A, C, G1, or G2, with the other hand, you are likely dead unless there is a GFCI. If you complete the circuit with two fingers on the same hand, you will get a nasty shock, but likely survive.

If you used two hands to touch B and any grounded prong, you are lucky to be alive...
In 99% of all outlets, B is the same voltage as D (because of the tab), so there is 0V between B and D.

No.
A and B are also shorted together with a tab, so there is no potential difference (oV) between A and B.

Only if the outlets where wired as in my shop. 240V between B and D in every outlet. This is very rare.

It suddenly dawns on me that you have asking about discharging your body after walking on an insulated floor, and drawing a a spark as you touch an outlet box. It this case none of the details described above matter. Your body is charged to a few 10tens of thousands of Volts, and you touch something at a different potential with one hand and a sparks jumps. It matters not a whit which prong of the outlet box the spark jumps to. All of them have a low-impedance path to earth ground for static electricity on your body.

Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
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12. ### MaxHeadRoom Expert

Jul 18, 2013
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Either B & D will give you a shock they are 120vac above ground.
Also as previously mentioned there can also be 240v between B & D in the case of Kitchen area etc.
B & D can either be the same 120v supply conductor or as above 240v between supplied from separate breakers.
A, C, G1, G2 are all common to each other and at ground potential!

NO, they are the same potential if on the same 120v conductor, again, 240v in some areas of a dwelling.
Many electrical jurisdictions mandate the 240v at each kitchen receptacle.
http://www.electrical-online.com/kitchen-split-receptacle-circuits/

Max.

Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
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13. ### SgtWookie Expert

Jul 17, 2007
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Let's back up a second... G1 and G2 are connected to Earth Ground back at the breaker panel/fusebox; this earth ground is, in the last decade or so, supposed to be connected via AWG 4 copper wire to a pair of eight foot long copper clad stakes driven into the ground at least 6 feet apart from each other. Prior to that, a single 8 foot long copper clad stake was required. Prior to that (back in the 60's and before) one could connect the ground wire to copper plumbing.

The Neutral wires are also connected to Earth Ground at the breaker panel/fusebox - but this is the ONLY place that they may be connected together. The ground sockets on the outlets are there to protect people, by shielding them from live circuits. B and D are supposed to be "hot", whereas the A and C are near ground potential - however, as current flow increases through hot and neutral, the neutral wire at the socket could actually measure several volts on it depending on the current flowing and the wire gauge, due to the resistance of the wire.

14. ### Thanks4helpin Thread Starter New Member

Mar 14, 2012
19
0
Thank you!! Don't worry - I know my questions seem scary but I assure you I am definitely not going to hurt anyone nor do I have any intention of burning my house down. Nor am I suicidal. However, I do obsessively think about the most weird random electrical questions and cannot relax when I don't find answers which satisfy me (which I think are reliable and trustworthy). I assure you that is the extent of my strange questions. That is why I am very, very thankful for any help from this board and am extremely grateful!

15. ### Thanks4helpin Thread Starter New Member

Mar 14, 2012
19
0
I am confused about Mike ML's answer.