I have a clock that has a pretty corroded plug. The clock plug is not polarized. You can plug it in any which way.

I also have a spare electric cord that is wired with a polarized plug.

I'd like to use the spare cord to rewire the clock.

I can see how wiring a device that expects a polarized plug with a non-polarized plug would be a Bad Idea. But I'm pretty sure putting a polarized plug on a device that does not expect it won't hurt.

But I want to double check that. Am I missing something here?


You're absolutely right.

Since the original plug is non-polarized, the clock doesn't care which wire is live and which is neutral. With the polarized plug, live is always going to be on one wire, and since the clock doesn't care which one, neither should you.

The only thing to worry about is that the new wire is the same gauge or thicker so that you can be sure that it will safely carry the current that the clock requires.

  • Good point. The new wire is thicker so I'm still on solid ground.
    – Amanda
    Jan 9 '13 at 2:27
  • I remember that even with non-polarized things, they sometimes cared about polarity (such as phonograph players). Plugged in the wrong way, record players would create a 60Hz buzz on the speakers. There are also other devices (like lights with switches) that are best connected with a particular orientation, but work with 95% of the safety the wrong way. But, a clock probably doesn't care at all.
    – Pigrew
    Jan 9 '13 at 3:43
  • @Pigrew - they would create noise and worse yet, could have a hot chassis. The chassis was always supposed to be connected to neutral and the whole thing enclosed in a wooden box with thick bakelite knobs and no exposed metal. Cheap radios didn't bother with transformers, but tried to derive the B+ plate voltage off of rectified AC current. Some of them would have a capacitor between the neutral and the chassis, either way they were a shock hazard and why polarized plugs came into being. Quality radios used a transformer so you had isolation from the mains power. Jan 9 '13 at 6:34
  • So far so good. Though...I have another famously loud clock that I might try switching the plug round on.
    – Amanda
    Jan 9 '13 at 13:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.