tamper resistant receptacles--rant and plea for help

rwiegandFebruary 19, 2013

We've just moved into our renovated and expanded house, and one of the primary issues is that because of bringing the house up to code there is almost no place where it is possible to plug a cord into an outlet successfully. The code-required tamper-resistant outlets are essentially completely adult-proof. These are quality receptacles (Hubbell commercial grade model CBRS15ALTR), and with minutes of trying every possible approach) gentle or gorilla strength, wiggling, straight on as even as possible, and everything in between it is sometimes possible to get a two-prong plug to insert. For about half the receptacles I've never succeeded in getting a three-prong plug to insert. Pushing straight on with all my strength seems to be the approach that most often works, but my wife can't do it at all. I've finally gotten a couple of extension cords plugged in and now move the non-TR end of the cord to whatever it is I need to power.

My electrician says, "yeah, they're an awful pain in the butt, everyone hates them".

Is there any hope for these? Will they get easier to use after being in use for a while (no evidence of that so far)? Is there a secret dance that one can do to get them to work? Do the 79 cent receptacles work better than the $5 ones?

Any advice would be appreciated. I'd like to stay legal after the inspector signs off, but completely impervious and unusable outlets are a little too safe for me to live with.

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btharmy

I have had problems with them as well. I just installed a GFCI, TR receptacle in a kitchen only to have the client complain about how difficult it was to plug in the toaster. He was elderly and I thought I would have better luck. I checked the receptacle and could not plug the toaster in without forcing it. I pushed harder than anybody should have to. I replaced it with a standard GFCI, collected payment and went on my way. I have that option because TR receptacles are not required in Indiana.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 5:52PM
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kisu

I just got all Tamper Resistant plugs. There is a trick - if I run into a plug where I was pushing really hard and it wasn't going in, then i would just stop what I was doing and change the angle slightly and boom - slides in easy, no effort at all.

Just take your time and change angle slightly and it should go in easy. If you are going in at wrong angle with one prong going in too much on one side it will be Locked.

I was frustrated too, but this really works.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 8:10PM
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bus_driver

Regarding where such receptacles are required, not every jurisdiction uses the same code. Some areas still use the 2008, or an earlier edition of the NEC. The State of NC generally adopts the newest NEC in April of the nominal year of that NEC.
Wait until you encounter Article 406.4(D)(4) (2011 NEC) in January 2014.
Codes particularly penalize poor people.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 7:35AM
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rwiegand

"Just take your time and change angle slightly and it should go in easy."

"Should" is the operative word here. Plugging in the toaster "shouldn't" be a 5 minute exercise in frustration. I have outlets where four different people have tried over a period of time to insert a plug without success. Most of of us are neither frail nor mechanically incompetent. I think these things are too difficult for normal people to use.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:22AM
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llaatt22

The three prong plug should be the easiest to insert because its flat prongs are less robust in size and have more flex.
There are two insertion methods that can be tried separately or combined but both rely on the same action in the following examples :
Place the ground prong and right prong in the outlet at the biggest (up-down or side to side) slant angle you can manage so that the CORNER of the right prong contacts the keeper opening slot area first. Press firmly but not excessively on that spot while either moving the plug to straighten it or move the plug to press the CORNER of the left prong against its keeper opening. Once this is accomplished, simple repetition will seat the plug.

Extraction? That is going to take a lot more action.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 5:27PM
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Ron Natalie

Bus is right. That's a particularly inane part of the code. AFCI receptacles are hideously expense and QUITE POINTLESS. If it was possible to just stick an AFCI breaker in on that branch circuit (i.e., it's not an MWBC or one that serves GFCI receptalces) that would be one thing, but to just stick a rather pointless $60 receptacle in is quite another.

If you go there, don't forget to get a TR AFCI (they aren't all

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 10:52AM
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rwiegand

Well, I complained to the manufacturer about these outlets when I posted here and the Hubbell-Bryant rep came out to the house this morning, tried them out, and proclaimed them defective. (Hooray, it's not just me!) He's replacing 50 receptacles on his dime. Four stars for customer service, I hope the new batch works!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:35PM
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bus_driver

Looking at the list of people who wrote the updates for the various sections of the NEC, the GFCI, AFCI, and receptacle provisions included employees of SquareD, Pass and Seymour LeGrand and Leviton.
Create a market by mandating use of the products you make?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:18AM
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