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Why Outlet Adapters are Not Safe and What the Alternatives Are

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

The Problem with 2Prong Ungrounded Outlets: The Risks Involved when Using Adapters and Solutions to Consider, Upgrade the Wiring or Install a Ground Wire to Make it Safe

Possible Risks when using 3Hole Outlet Adapters

Electrical Question: I live in an old apartment, and it only has 2 plug outlets.

  • I have to use an a 3 hole adapter when using the wall outlets.
  • I bought a Nina soft spin dryer, and the product’s instructions indicated that , not to use an extension cord or adapter, because it may cause power shortage and lead to a fire.
  • I was wondering if it’s okay, to use this product with an adapter, even though it warns me not too.
  • If I use it, will it do damage to the product?
  • You see I use adapter for other products that probably warns the same thing, but nothing serious has happen.

Please help, Thank you so much!

This electrical wiring question came from Jen, in San Jose, California.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jen.

The Problem with 2Prong Ungrounded Outlets

The Risks Involved when Using Adapters and Solutions to Consider

  • The Problem with an Ungrounded Outlet
    • The 2 plug outlets indicate that a ground wire is not available, and most newer appliances do require a ground wire which ensures protection for the equipment and the user, so with this in mind I would advise you not to use an adapter for the dryer.
    • Keep in mind that using an adapter will not create a ground connection unless it is found that there is a circuit ground that is bonded to the outlet and box and the adapter has a bonding wire that can be fastened to the outlet cover metal screw, however if the apartment is older then this is unlikely.
  • Voiding the Warranty of the Equipment
    • Another reason not to use an adapter is that it will most likely void the warranty of the equipment by using an adapter, so if anything should go wrong with the equipment then you have to deal with the repairs.
  • Upgrade the Wiring or Install a Ground Wire to Make it Safe
    • You may ask the apartment management or owner of the property if they could have an electrician install a ground wire to the outlet, or obtain permission to have one installed.
    • Either way, it is best not to use an adapter and make arrangements to have a ground wire installed so you can use your new dryer.

Resources about Wiring Outlets and Electric Dryers

Electrical Outlet Wiring

Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home

Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlet receptacles which are common place in every home. See how to wire electrical outlets.

How to Wire a Dryer Cord

3Wire and 4Wire Configurations for Clothes Dryers

See an electric dryer installation with a typical 220 Volt electric power cord wiring system with 3-wire or 4-wire electric dryer, or a 3-wire or 4-wire outlet, how the electric dryer is wired and what to do if your cord does not match the plug.

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
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» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
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4 Responses to “Why Outlet Adapters are Not Safe and What the Alternatives Are”
  1. Chris Payne says:

    I would like to add a lamp to a ceiling fan. After removing the cap covering the wiring I see a white wire (common?) and a blue wire which I think might be the hot wire. Please advise,
    Chris Payne

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Chris,
      The Ceiling Fan Blue Wire
      These typical the light fixture wires found on most ceiling fans:
      The blue wire is the power, and the white wire is the neutral.
      I hope this helps,

  2. David Yurick says:

    I have a question regarding knob and tube wiring. Is there a safe way to wire a 15 amp GFCI outlet to knob wiring?

    Thank you.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi David,
      Yes, a GFCI outlet may be wired to knob and tube wiring as described in the instructions found in the article: Knob and Tub Wiring and GFCI.
      To help verify the polarity of the knob and tube wires a non-contact voltage tracer may be used.
      The label which comes with the GFCI outlet must be applied to the face of the outlet which states that the outlet is not grounded, however the GFCI circuitry will still provide ground fault protection.

      Be Careful.


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