I know about this question (I posted an answer to it), but this one's a little more specific.

Consider a weather-resistant outlet, like the ones below:

enter image description here enter image description here

Notice the first picture has the plug in what most of us would call "right-side-up" orientation; the blades are above the ground pin and it looks like a face. However, the blue WR logo is upside-down when you look at it this way. (It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the TR logos between the blade slots are oriented so that the logo for the receptacle on top of the assembly is right-side up either way.)

The second picture shows a similar plug, oriented so the blue WR label is right-side-up. This places the ground pin above the current-carrying blades. That got me thinking that this was done for a reason, perhaps to get us to mount the plug "upside-down", contrary to most folks' sensibilities, in order to provide the best weather resistance. It makes a certain amount of sense; a plug mounted this way that then gets rained on would have water contact the ground pin or conductors first, and then drip down to one of the powered legs, causing a short to ground that trips the breaker and is somewhat less likely to try to conduct through you.

Are the manufacturers trying to tell us something? Is it preferable, regardless of how you would normally orient a non-WR outlet, to install a WR outlet ground-pin up?

  • 1
    At first glance I thought you might get a better answer on our User Experience site, but I see now that there are specific DIY/electrical safety issues that will probably be answered better here. The UX site is good for this type of question though.
    – ChrisF
    Apr 20, 2012 at 14:56
  • 1
    The "what is this trying to tell you" bit is great for UX; the question on how to install the WR outlet is still best asked here of course
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 20, 2012 at 15:09
  • OK, I'll post a related question on the UX site limited to the intent of the manufacturers. Let's assume for a second that they ARE trying to tell us to mount the plug ground-side-up; the remaining question is, are they right?
    – KeithS
    Apr 20, 2012 at 15:26
  • What is this one saying Leviton 20-Amp Weather-Resistant GFCI?
    – Tester101
    Apr 20, 2012 at 16:34

7 Answers 7


The NEC book does not address the issue, though many Outlet Suppliers have cut-sheets that say to mount with the ground up. From the brief comments I had with Electricians and Inspectors, it because if a plug is pulled slightly out form a outlet, there is a potential for something to connect the Hot/Neutral together by landing across the two spades. If the Ground is up, that potential for that is dramatically decreased. What does the cutsheet for your outlet say?

Most plug (not outlet) vendors make plugs for devices that have the ground down as that seems to be the way most people install them.

All of my Installs have been with the Ground up.

  • Unfortunately I don't have one in front of me. The reason you state is true for any grounded outlet regardless of TR/WR capabilities, but this manufacturer (Cooper Wiring) seems to have labelled WR devices deliberately, even when other labeling on the same devices (such as the molded-in TR label) is orientation-independent.
    – KeithS
    Apr 20, 2012 at 18:53

The answers to the question you linked to apply here as well. THERE IS NO STANDARD (in residential situations). If you talk to 10 electricians, you'll get 11 reasons why it should be one way or the other.

Ultimately, the manufacturer can print the labels whichever direction they choose. Concluding that a receptacle should be installed with ground up or down based on the printing, is not a very sound conclusion at all.

  • 1
    I have even seen them installed sideways. Apr 22, 2012 at 3:34

Probably the best answer for this sort of thing is to be consistent throughout the house, and be consistent with what people expect.


I've been told by manufacturers that you should follow the writing on the yoke or strap but I've seen it both directions on some brands. Leviton points residential grade to the ground down and commercial and industrial grades ground up. I guess thats why GFI's have the print on the reset button go both directions.

One of the main reasons for the ground up is that if a knife or paper clip should fall, the ground up would keep it from shorting.

EDIT Actually Leviton puts their WR - TR - WR/TR like a GFI, where you can read the WR correctly no matter how you mount them.

enter image description here

  • Installing with the ground up doesn't stop it from shorting. It makes it so that anything that would short the pins, usually touches the ground first. Reducing the likelihood of getting shocked. Apr 22, 2012 at 3:40

Although I have heard of common receptacles being described as "monkey face", the fact is that they are officially "U-Ground". Further, if you search "NEMA receptacle" you will find the ground up. When I have worked in hospitals, the customer REQUIRED the ground be up. Also, if you look at the catalogs of the various manufacturers, they are illustrated with ground up diagrams.


I have them ground side up in my home and at my job and it causes trouble with AC/DC adapters (wall warts, power bricks). The larger ones can pull themselves part-way out of the outlet if the heavy part is up high. Some power bricks don't have a polarized plug and can be put in either way but that's not always the case.

Most people suggest putting power bricks on a surge strip so you can manage wires better and easily turn all connected devices off when not in use so if you only have a couple of the larger ones in the house, it may not be an issue.

Also, I've had issues with night lights in ground-side-up outlets. Many of them have a polarized plug and can only go in one way. That said, it is sometimes handy to have a night light shining mostly on the floor but I'd rather do that by choice than have the outlet decide for me. I have no idea what that does to the device by running upside down. Heat from the lamp would rise through the device itself and would probably shorten its life.

  • This is an excellent point when considering the concept that ground-up will help a device short to ground first and reduce shock risk -- if a polarized wall wart with no ground is hanging upside down and its weight pulls it loose, then it presents the shock hazard that the ground-up installation was trying to prevent -- a hazard that wouldn't happen if the wall wart were hanging the right way (in a ground-down installation)
    – Doktor J
    Sep 18, 2015 at 1:28

Some appliances have a triangle shaped plug end. If the ground on an outlet is at the bottom it will not put a strain on the cord. Also a heavy triangle style cord will be more prone to pull away from an outlet if the outlet has the ground at the top. This can cause a gap between the plug and outlet-the very thing we want to prevent.

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