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I am installing some of these outlets (link to lowes.com or link to amazon.com) which claim to have automatic grounding.

It looks to me like the grounding is provided solely by that little strip of copper wire at the "bottom" screw.

Is this a safe, sane thing people actually do? I am using metal boxes with romex, with the ground wire from the romex connected directly to the metal box.

It would be helpful to me if I can rely on this automatic grounding because I am installing 2-gang boxes, each with two outlets, and many of them have an outgoing line to feed another downstream box (e.g. if you manually ground the outlets, I have to connect the incoming ground + outgoing ground + metal box + 2 outlets, it gets to be troublesome to securely connect them all and fit everything in the box).

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  • If this is a daft question, please feel free to vote to close. I felt the need to ask because the whole idea is kind of shocking to me.
    – negacao
    Aug 4, 2023 at 8:35
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    The copper wire probably more of a gimmick. If the metal box is properly grounded, the screws should work well enough. Plastic boxes and ungrounded metal boxes still need extra.
    – crip659
    Aug 4, 2023 at 9:12
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    @Criggie, Lowe’s website has … issues in general. The link seems to work fine for me, but for edification I linked to “ Eaton 15-Amp 125-volt Commercial Duplex Outlet, Ivory (10-Pack)”.
    – negacao
    Aug 5, 2023 at 10:34
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    @Criggie does this amazon listing work for you? It's higher resolution pictures let me see how the wire was placed around the screw; something I couldn't do with the Lowes side views. amazon.com/EATON-BR15W-SP-L-125-Volt-Commercial-Receptacle/dp/… Aug 6, 2023 at 1:48
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    Also, @negacao, the whole idea of grounding (and GFCI) is that it should not be shocking to you! ba-da-boom! I'll be here all week, don't forget to tip your waitress.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 6, 2023 at 17:47

3 Answers 3

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The idea is that the copper wire provides constant contact of the screw to the metal body of the outlet.

If the outlet needed to be left a bit loose, so as to be flush with the wall and cover plate, the unit would be still be grounded to a metal box. Provided the box is grounded.

This is not novel. Many of the better manufacturers of electrical products have this feature.

Provided all your metal boxes are grounded, I would be confident in using those outlets.

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  • I did connect two of the outlets without explicitly grounding the outlets themselves - works perfectly, and I have a good ground from the outlets to the box. :)
    – negacao
    Aug 5, 2023 at 10:36
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Is this safe?

If the device is UL listed (and anything made by Eaton and sold in a physical, brick-and-mortar store that doesn't want to be sued out of existence will be) then yes, the UL certifies that the device is safe and meets the current (as of date of testing) NEC.

One of the advantages of spending the bit of extra money for the "commercial grade" devices is that you save time and space on install. I've done exactly the same thing for the addition to my house that I'm currently working on. It's well worth it, IMHO, for the simplicity and space savings to spend the extra buck or two for the higher grade device.

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Yes, they're safe as houses.

The ground via the mounting screws just like switches do.

The issue with receptacles is that while you're wrestling a plug in or out, you could possibly push it in slightly and float it off the head of the bolts, causing poor ground contact. The double wiper on the screw shaft takes care of that.

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