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Complex Question about Electrical Outlets - help super appreciated!

Complex Question about Electrical Outlets - help super appreciated!

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  #1  
Old 12-24-15, 02:39 PM
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Complex Question about Electrical Outlets - help super appreciated!

Hi everyone,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I'm new to this forum and joined because I have lots of questions about electricity that only professional electricians can answer. I'm far from it and I don't know any electrical terminology as well. Would really appreciate if you can answer in simple English.

I'm living in Canada British Columbia who has OCD and obsesses about electrical answers I cannot find the answer to. I am NOT suicidal or intending to hurt anyone. I asked my electrician friend but he recommended I put it through a forum where more experts can help me. Would really appreciate your help so that I can relieve my anxiety.


So the diagram is attached. I'm trying to understand the electrical relationships between each hole. This is a 'normal' standard wall circuit not in the kitchen, like in the bedroom or something and not hooked up to any light switch. 120 volts as per normal. Imagine a person is standing on carpet or laminate floor in an apartment.

1) Would the person get more of a shock touching A1 and B1 if they were in a house, standing on carpet/laminate, compared to in an apartment 30 storeys off the ground? Why or why not.

2) Please confirm if the following is correct.


1) IF a person touches A1 and B1 with one hand, they will get shocked. True/False

2) If a person touches A1 and C1 with one hand, no shock. True/False

3) If person touched B1 and C1 with one hand, will get shock. True/False

4) if a person touches A1 and A2 with one hand, no shock. T rue/False. Why?

5) If a person touches A1 and B2, will get a shock, at the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1. Is this true and why? This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc.

6) if a person touches A1 and C2, no shock. for same reason as there is no shock when touching A1 and C1.

7) If person touches B1 and A2, there will be a shock. At the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1, or A1 and B2. This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc. is this true?

8) If person touches B1 and B2 with one hand, they will get shocked. Same vltage/power/impact as A1 and B2? why or why not?

9) If person touches B1 and C2, will they get a shock?

10) if a person touches C1 and C2, no shock?



I assume if you touch 3 or more of the components above instead of 2, for example, A2, B2 and C2 all with one hand - the shock will be greater than touching just A2 and B2?



Is there some kind of machine/tester that one can buy/use to test this (including the severity of the impact/voltage/power of the shock) so that one can find out?

Thank you so, so much. I really, really really appreciate this.

merry Christmas and happy new year.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-24-15, 02:48 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Right off the bat..... look at the picture. You'll see the top and bottom slots are tied together in MOST applications. They are in general use applications.

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1) Would the person get more of a shock touching A1 and B1 if they were in a house, standing on carpet/laminate, compared to in an apartment 30 storeys off the ground? Why or why not. Doesn't make a difference... there 120v between those two points wherever they're located.

2) Please confirm if the following is correct.
1) IF a person touches A1 and B1 with one hand, they will get shocked. True/False
2) If a person touches A1 and C1 with one hand, no shock. True/False
3) If person touched B1 and C1 with one hand, will get shock. True/False
4) if a person touches A1 and A2 with one hand, no shock. True/False. Why? See above pic.

5) If a person touches A1 and B2, will get a shock, at the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1. Is this true and why? This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc.6) if a person touches A1 and C2, no shock. for same reason as there is no shock when touching A1 and C1.
7) If person touches B1 and A2, there will be a shock. At the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1, or A1 and B2. This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc. is this true?
8) If person touches B1 and B2 with one hand, they will get shocked. Same voltage/power/impact as A1 and B2? why or why not?
9) If person touches B1 and C2, will they get a shock?
10) if a person touches C1 and C2, no shock?
 

Last edited by PJmax; 12-24-15 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 12-24-15, 03:21 PM
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Great explanation PJ! You provided such an in-depth explanation to the OPs question.
 
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Old 12-24-15, 06:09 PM
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OCD can be tough and I feel compelled to say something here.
A friend of mine who I've known for over 30 years shocked himself in his home and started asking similar questions. He asked questions not only in forums, but would contact physicists and other professionals. He was on a mission to find out how severely he was shocked.
I wasn't there when it happened, but I would call it a bite. Just enough to let you know you touched something wrong. I did determine it was a 15 amp circuit on which bedroom outlets were on.

It took him many years and I don't think he ever found the answer. He lost his home and family.

Like I said, OCD is tough, but please don't go down that road.
 
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Old 01-08-16, 07:41 PM
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Thank you! - and a few clarifications

First off let me profusely apologize for my late reply. I was down with the flu over the holidays.

Secondly, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU for those who replied and who cares. I've been suffering from OCD for 15 long terrible years and I'm shocked to find out that Handyman had a friend who had similar urges/thoughts as me. That is very sad that he lost his family and home. I really feel for him, since honestly every day is a struggle for me to live a normal life and appear normal, even at work. I WISH I had a friend who is an electrician, who could literally come by and answer my questions. But I don't and have to rely on your kindness. Thank you.

PJ Max - Thank you again for all your responses. Could you (or someone else) please answer #5 to 10? I've copied and pasted them below. I would so, really really appreciate it.


5) If a person touches A1 and B2, will get a shock, at the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1. Is this true and why? This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc.6) if a person touches A1 and C2, no shock. for same reason as there is no shock when touching A1 and C1.
7) If person touches B1 and A2, there will be a shock. At the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1, or A1 and B2. This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc. is this true?
8) If person touches B1 and B2 with one hand, they will get shocked. Same voltage/power/impact as A1 and B2? why or why not?
9) If person touches B1 and C2, will they get a shock?
10) if a person touches C1 and C2, no shock?

Best, and thank you again.
 
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Old 01-08-16, 07:47 PM
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Why don't you just get a meter and check the voltage across all of the points you have questions about. Anywhere you get 120 volts you will get a shock.
 
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Old 01-08-16, 08:15 PM
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A1 and a2 are the same, b1 and B2 are the same and c1 and c2 are the same. They are connected internally in the receptacle .
 
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Old 01-11-16, 06:47 PM
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that's a good idea but I don't even know where to start. What does a meter look like and how much does it cost? How do you use it? I assume they sell it at Home Depot?
 
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Old 01-11-16, 07:45 PM
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Be sure to get an analog multimeter. Digital meters can sometimes give misleading readings. All you need is a $8-$15 one. Example:

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GE Analog Multimeter-50952 - The Home Depot
 
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Old 01-11-16, 07:53 PM
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I looked on the Home Depot CA webpage and couldn't find a meter I could suggest.

Here is one that will do everything you would need and is fairly inexpensive: Amazon.com: Tekpower TP188 Pocket-size Analog Multimeter with Built -in Test Leads: Home Improvement

It may look complex but there are plenty of videos out there to help how to use it.
 
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Old 01-20-16, 07:56 PM
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Thanks for the meter info!

Thanks Tolyn Ironhand, ray2047 and CasualJoe for the meter suggestions and pictures! I will see if I can get one for sure. In the future I will use the meter - it will just take me some time to learn how to procure one and use it.

I'm still waiting for some kind soul to answer my questions 5-10 if possible and am so grateful for everyone's support Pj max and pc boss - thank you so much for your previous help, and thanks Handyone for your kindness.
 
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Old 01-20-16, 08:09 PM
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The meter will answer those questions.
 
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Old 01-20-16, 10:40 PM
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Both A1, A2, C1 and C2 should be at the same potential so there should be no shock hazard. Touching B1 and A1 or A2 is the same. The same for B1 or B2 to either C. The difference is 120 volts.
 
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Old 01-21-16, 09:22 AM
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The answers to some of your questions depend on how the electrician installed the circuit. There are two common ways of installing a duplex receptacle (pictured in your first post). The most common way is to install it such that the top receptacle is exactly the same as the bottom receptacle; meaning that A1 and A2 are identical and that B1 and B2 are identical. Receptacles are shipped from the factory with these copper tabs on each side which serve to connect the matching top and bottom slots together, so that they are electrically identical. These tabs allow the installer to power both top and bottom receptacle slots by connecting only one set of wires to the screw terminals. Power can flow across the copper tab and effectively bridge the top and bottom section together as one.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]61880[/ATTACH]

The other installation option is that the installer has the choice to snap those tabs off, which breaks the connections between the top and bottom sections, allowing them to power each section of the receptacle from a separate circuit, or from a switched portion of the same circuit. This method is more common in Canada. In this case A1 and A2 are usually the same, but B1 and B2 may be different. You can't tell by looking at the face, but you can tell by using a tester.

In either case C1 and C2 are always the same, and are always connected to ground in a properly installed circuit.

To get more directly to the spirit of your questions, the real opportunity for a shock from a receptacle comes from slots B1 and B2 on your diagram. These are where what is typically called the "hot" wire attaches. Under normal operating conditions it should not be possible to be shocked from touching any combination of C1, C2, A1 or A2. It is possible (and likely) to be shocked from touching B1 or B2 in combination with any other conductive surface.


5) If a person touches A1 and B2, will get a shock, at the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1. Is this true and why? This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc.

Generally speaking yes. The difference in electrical potential between A1 and B1 and between A1 and B2 will almost always be approximately 120 volts. When the voltage is the same, the potential for shock is the same.

6) if a person touches A1 and C2, no shock. for same reason as there is no shock when touching A1 and C1.

Correct.

7) If person touches B1 and A2, there will be a shock. At the same voltage/power/impact as touching A1 and B1, or A1 and B2. This is assuming there is no change in the person's sweat level, or change in surroundings etc. is this true?

Correct.

8) If person touches B1 and B2 with one hand, they will get shocked. Same voltage/power/impact as A1 and B2? why or why not?

Maybe to both parts. It depends on how the receptacle was installed and if they might be connected to ground through some other means like bare feet or kneeling down on a concrete floor. A shock requires two points of contact, and there must be voltage measurable between those two points. If the meter is set to the volts scale, and one of the probes is touched to each surface, it will give a reading. A reading near zero means a shock is not possible; a large number means a shock is possible. The likely values in home wiring are near 120 volts and near 240 volts, either of which is capable of delivering a serious shock.

9) If person touches B1 and C2, will they get a shock?

Yes.

10) if a person touches C1 and C2, no shock?

Correct.

In closing, I'd also like to echo what Brian said in Post #4.
 
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Old 02-22-16, 05:51 PM
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Thank you so much!!

Thanks Ibpooks and all you kind souls for answering my questions. I'm sorry for my late reply. I just returned from overseas and didn't have access to a computer. I was thinking about it the entire trip and am so thankful to be able to answer my questions. Thanks again. God bless all of you!
 
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