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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Just because it's there doesn't mean you should use it

Bad engineering practices at a company don't end with the software. If the environment lets that happen long enough to where it starts "creating its own gravity" and thus becomes accepted, you never know what other kind of fun might exist.

Thus, I give you this little gem I found one fine day. It looked sketchy to me based on my limited knowledge of plugs and outlets, so I took these pictures. Upon coming home and looking it up, it turned out that yep, it's sketchville.

Check it out. This side goes to the outlet in the room...

Input side

... and this side goes to the equipment...

Output side

I had to look this up to be sure, so for the benefit of anyone else who didn't automatically know all of the details here, here's my version of how it all fits together.

The "input" side is a plug that's used here in the US for 15 amp circuits. It's associated with wiring that can handle that much current plus a little more for protection. That "extra" is not for you to actually use deliberately, and definitely not to use permanently. Likewise, the circuit has a 15 amp breaker controlling it with similar tolerances.

The problem here is that the "output" side is used for *20* amp equipment. A device which might end up pulling more than 15 amps and needs to go a level up might end up designed around this connector if they also want the connection to be lockable (note the circular nature).

Normally, something that accepts that kind of plug has the better cabling and higher breaker rating behind it. That's the whole point of having different specs and incompatible connectors in the first place. Here? Not so much.

So you have a breaker, circuit, and receptacle somewhere that's saying "I am rated for 15 amps. Do not attempt to pull more from me". You have a piece of equipment that is saying "a mere 15 amp situation is likely not good enough for me, so I should get 20 amps instead".

Then you have THAT wire which says "screw it" and lets you plug the one into the other.

Who creates stuff like this? Who buys it? Who allows it? How is this not illegal?

All I know is, if that was my building and they were my tenant, I'd probably sic the fire marshal on them.

You don't mess with this stuff for a reason. Bad things can happen.