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I am trying to find a 125V female plug receptacle with ground for a 12-gauge wire run in the 1960s, the ground wire of which is a much narrower gauge than the white and black conductors. The Levitons and the P&S's at the big box stores assume the three wires are going to be the same gauge, and so they don't get a tight grip the ground wire; it just slips right out. Is there a name for such a connectorenter image description here?

  • What is a female plug? Is this the (male) plug that goes on the end of an appliance cord, or the (female) receptacle in the wall? – Harper Jan 9 '17 at 3:10
  • Just a terminology issue. The female counterpart of the male plug. That which gets plugged into. – TRomano Jan 9 '17 at 12:28
  • Also known a socket/outlet. – Notts90 Jan 9 '17 at 12:32
  • But it's not a wall outlet. It's a "cord end" connector. – TRomano Jan 9 '17 at 12:42
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Go ahead and buy the modern version. To make the light gauge ground wire secure, add another bit or two of wire—each an inch or so long—beside it into the terminal.

This will fill up the slot enough so that the screw meets the wires and can clamp them together firmly.

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    Or cut the thin wire long, strip it for the longer length, then double it over and twist, to make it thicker. – Hot Licks Jan 9 '17 at 1:23
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    I've since found a cord-end connector with clamp-style connectors tightened by screws, which can handle any gauge. It's the kind where the cylindrical section with the prong holes threads into the base of the connector. – TRomano Jan 9 '17 at 12:49
  • @TRomano good on you. That connector you had originally is bottom-shelf cheese, and not listed for your appliction. – Harper Jan 9 '17 at 18:24
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Don't add wire. Don't double the wire up, that won't hold, it will worm its way out especially if the strain relief isn't very good.

Dig into the gory details and you'll find that this connector is not listed for 18AWG wire. You can't use that connector for that wire.

What you're looking for is not big deal. Most corded sockets have screws that go all the way down.

One redeeming quality of big-box is they'll take anything back. Take it back. Grab the connector on the next shelf up that's 50 cents more. But first read the label and part if possible, and see if it's listed for what you need.

Better yet, go to a proper electrical supply house at a quiet time (after 9am). Tell the guy what you need and he will check the listings of each of his sockets til he finds one. Or, he can just sell you cordage and strain reliefs to replace your obsolete cordage.

Speaking of strain relief, that is important. That orange cheapie (a product of which I am familiar) has a strain relief fitting (and no doubt listed) to fit only one size of cable, i.e. One size of orange extension cord. Surely not yours.

  • Thanks. The one I replaced it with has a metal U-clamp over the cable which can be tightened down onto the cable, and the connectors inside have little sandwich plates which get tightened together. Good strain relief in both cases. The replacement actually cost a few dollars less. :) – TRomano Jan 9 '17 at 18:59
  • Ha, that's not surprising! Prices on replacement inline sockets tend to be all over the map, really is a case of a bunch of sellers chaotically trying to "charge what the market will bear". Oh, the retail games! – Harper Jan 9 '17 at 19:35
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If the grounding conductor is 18ga, that would create the risk of a ground fault which passes enough current to severely overheat the grounding conductor without passing enough to trip the breaker quickly. I would suggest that unless the breaker supplying the circuit is a GFCI (RCD) or AFCI, I would think it would be wise to use a GFCI outlet.

A GFCI or AFCI will kill the power if any significant current flows through the grounding conductor (at levels roughly two orders of magnitude below what would be required to cause overheating). Although codes generally require that all newly installed wiring have a grounding conductor the same gauge as would be required for hot and neutral, they generally allow the use of GFCI protection a substitute for a grounding conductor when wiring receptacles where a proper grounding wire is unavailable. Having an 18ga grounding wire in combination with a GFCI or AFCI should be almost as good as having a 12ga wire, and would almost certainly be safer than having an ungrounded GFCI. It may be good to talk to a local inspector for advice, since inspectors may have some discretion to allow deviations from normal code requirements when there is adequate justification.

  • Thanks very much for the info. I will have a GFCI breaker installed down at the panel in the basement.This wire terminates at a hole the previous owners had hacked into the plaster below a kitchen cabinet over the cooktop, directly behind the under-cabinet range hood. The former range hood was connected directly to the wire. – TRomano Jan 9 '17 at 12:43
  • The usual way to connect a range hood is to put a standard electrical box in the wall inside a cabinet over the top of the range hood. Then a flexible power cord to the hood connection block is plugged into that receptacle. If the cabinet is already in place and you have electric cable emerging from the wall, you can mount a surface mount box right over the hole the wire comes through and place the receptacle there. – Jim Stewart Jan 9 '17 at 13:26

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