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I purchased a 220 V outlet and didn't realize it. My circuit is 15 amperes. I wanted to hook up a series of normal 15 ampere 110 V outlets. When I look at the outlet it looks exactly like a regular 15 ampere 110 V one?...but it has a red, blue, and yellow wire instead of black, white and green wires.

The red wire connects to the brass screw (where black normally goes), the blue wire to the silver screw (where white normally goes), and the yellow to ground (where green or brass wire normally goes). The instructions are in German and/or English.

It looks like the outlet is just a metal backing and a plastic face.

It should be ok to hook up these outlets and use them as 110 V ones, correct???

Is there anything special about the way a 220 V or 110 V are made?

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I am in the US, near Washington, D.C.

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  • 1
    That's really strange. Where are you on this planet, and can you post a photo of the outlet you bought? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 9 at 22:53
  • 8
    Uh, that's not a 240V outlet, can you post actual pictures of the device you have? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 9 at 23:06
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    This is the outlet I purchased. ... amazon.com/gp/aw/d/… – Steve Jun 9 at 23:06
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    It says it is a 15 amp outlet but the paperwork says 220v - 250v – Steve Jun 9 at 23:09
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    These could have been manufactured in the Philippines,where they actually put 220 on US 120V receptacles. – Doug Jun 11 at 10:16
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Send it back right now

You bought it off Amazon Marketplace, the world's biggest junk shop. A step down from eBay, even, because this garbage hides amongst legitimate products. Here. See what you had to notice to even spot it?

enter image description here

(Sorry for the huge size)

Note the "Sold by some_random and Fulfilled by Amazon" part. That means "Amazon Marketplace" flea market. Often, they also have goofy brand names that sound like Ikea furniture names, but you can't count on that. They're just making it up.

Standards matter. Really.

These things don't come within a mile of US safety standards. If you think that doesn’t matter, watch Big Clive on Youtube, you'll get religion right quick :)

Heck, it doesn't even comply with EU safety standards. The CE stamp and RoHS stamp are counterfeited... or to be more precise, they are a legal promise by the person inside the EU who manufactured it inside the EU or imported it into the EU, that it complies. Joe EuCitizen mail-orders it, and it ships direct from China or via Amazon's fulfillment center, Joe EuCitizen is the importer in EU law. See how that works?

In the USA the system is not promise based, but requires every piece of equipment be listed. Listed means manufacturers and importers must send off specimens of the items to Underwriter's Laboratories or equally competent testing lab, where they do destructive testing well beyond BigClive levels. Most equipment breezes through this because manufacturers know what they're doing and they're either using the same methods as were approved before, or components with the RU mark which means UL pre-approved the components.

The scam

Here is the business model of this scam. Many Chinese counterfeiters market products designed to look like legitimate product, but of course are made very, very cheaply. This scammer found this particular one on Alibaba, a bastion of this type of spew. He asked the builder "hey, can you give me USA sockets?"* The builder said "sure". (Hence the Faux German wire colors). He paid $14 each to have them individually packaged, sent a crate of these to the Amazon fulfillment warehouse (for which he pays about $3 per unit), and so they're in Prime. Probably did all this from a computer in East Asia.

So you have ten(s) of people pretending to be hundreds of companies all selling the same stuff from the same 1-3 Chinese junk mills.

Note the price is only a little bit below the price of a UL listed domestic unit from a reputable builder that is actually designed for that purpose and built properly. That's how they set prices: expensive enough to look legit and cheaper enough to make you buy. The profits are insane, and they don't even care that you return it; don't be surprised if they tell you to keep it.

Total junk. You were ripped off, request a return based on "not as described" and send it back.

How to buy not junk

If it's too late to send it back, or if they tell you to keep it, send it to Big Clive on YouTube. He will tear it down in a video and show you all the ways it would've tried to kill you.

In the future, don't buy electrical parts online; they are price prohibitive because they're usually too low value to justify shipping. Talk to your local electrical supply house, and tell them you are sick of being overcharged by Home Depot (that puts them on notice that you are price conscious).

Certainly never touch an "Amazon Marketplace" product again with a 10-foot pole.

Amazon proper is supposed to be OK, but two problems. First telling the difference in listings. Second is, if you buy something "shipped from and sold by Amazon Proper" that they legitimately sourced from Actual Leviton, and Amazon is out of stock on that, they will silently and automatically substitute the same "SKU" from an Amazon Marketplace seller — and sellers are stuffing that channel with this ugly stuff.

-

* the HA-BSD-001 code on the parts bag googles to a page on Alibaba, listing an identical device, but with a German "Schuko" socket instead of our familiar friend the NEMA 5-15. The colors, right on cue, are shown in the listing as red blue yellow/green, faux German colors.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Michael Karas Jun 12 at 5:18
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    This should be THE answer to every "I bought something on DealExtreme / AliExpress / Ebay / Amazon marketplace, and ..." question on the entire StackExchange network. Great explanation of how they peddle their junk. – marcelm Jun 12 at 10:59
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Send it back and get something that's listed for the job

While what you have is indeed a 120V outlet (the outlet configuration governs, not some text in a manual somewhere), this outlet is not usable in a countertop or work surface in the USA, as it is not listed or labeled for use in a countertop or work surface, as requred by NEC 406.5(E) through (G):

(E) Receptacles in Countertops. Receptacle assemblies for installation in countertop surfaces shall be listed for countertop applications. Where receptacle assemblies for countertop applications are required to provide ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel in accordance with 210.8, such assemblies shall be permitted to be listed as GFCI receptacle assemblies for countertop applications.

(F) Receptacles in Work Surfaces. Receptacle assemblies and GFCI receptacle assemblies listed for work surface or countertop applications shall be permitted to be installed in work surfaces.

(G) Receptacle Orientation. Receptacles shall not be installed in a face-up position in or on countertop surfaces or work surfaces unless listed for countertop or work surface applications.

So, you'll need to return it and get something else that has an actual UL/ETL/... listing for this application.

  • 1
    Ok thanks. Unfortunately I bought 7 of these last year...so probably just threw money away at this point. I do have a GFI wired in first in the series of connections. I thought that would suffice with these non Gfci outlets. Still, probably safer if I get 7 outlets with GFI in them. Thanks for your advice and help – Steve Jun 10 at 0:52
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    @Steve -- the issue isn't the GFCI, it's the lack of listing for countertop service. It means that you'll probably open them up a year down the road to find a mess inside when you're trying to troubleshoot mystery GFCI trips – ThreePhaseEel Jun 10 at 2:42
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    @Steve one GFCI protecting the downline is the far saner way to do that. Anyway GFCI will not protect you from these items' mayhem. AFCI would have a better shot at doing so, but there are still serious risks. – Harper Jun 10 at 20:09
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This is a 220V outlet (note horizontal "live" slot on the right):

(Photo of a NEMA 6-20 outlet)

And this is a 110V outlet (vertical "live" slot):

(Photo of a NEMA 5-20 outlet)

Pictures valid in USA.

Look at these two outlets. I recently grabbed a 110 thinking it was a 220.

There is a difference a 220 plug won’t fit a 110 and a 110 won’t fit a 220. If your 110 plugs fit the outlets you have the will work as long as you wire a hot a neutral and a ground to the correct screws.

  • 1
    amazon.com/gp/aw/d/…. It says it is a 15amp device....but the paperwork says it is 220v – Steve Jun 9 at 23:06
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    Thanks @grawity – Kris Jun 10 at 14:59
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    While the other answers make good points about buying safe products, this is the actual answer on why it will not work even if it was a perfectly safe socket. – SQB Jun 11 at 8:50

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