Clearing Up The Confusion Behind Plug & Outlet Directions

Posted by Christopher Hahn on

When looking at our AC WORKS® brand extension cords and adapters, you may think that the plug or connectors may not match up with yours. You look directly at your plug or connector, but the corresponding NEMA configuration on the adapter or cord you are looking to purchase is flipped. Why is that?

This is a sort of optical illusion that we might see in other things, too. The first thing to remember when picking out the appropriate NEMA configurations for your needs is to look head-on at the outlet and plug you are trying to identify. This is easy to remember with an outlet because the outlet is usually already flat and facing us. But, sometimes when we think of a plug, we think of the outlet’s configuration. This will work when it comes to identifying the plug online while shopping, the NEMA configuration will be showing the plug as if we are looking at it head-on.

Another thing to remember is to check the inscription on each connection. The entire NEMA configuration will be printed on both sides of the electrical connection. The plug will have a “P” and the receptacle will have an “R”. You can learn more about this topic in a previous blog post.  

An example that gets confused often, is NEMA 6-50. When looking at the plug configuration, the ground pin can be described as circular or round. The outlet configuration is flipped, but the terminal where the ground pin would go is U shaped. There’s nothing to worry about here. U shaped ground terminals will accept both a U ground or a circular round ground. 

So, following these rules, when you are looking at an extension cord with a compatible plug and connector, the NEMA configurations will be flipped horizontally. Hopefully, this little tip will help clear the air and make shopping even easier.

If you are unsure of the configuration that you need, please feel free to reach out to us with a phone call, text, or email. Sending us pictures of the outlet and plug you are trying to adapt help, too!

Christopher Hahn - Marketing Coordinator

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  • Hello Tommy. In order to better assist you, can you please send pictures to

    Christopher on
  • Looking at the above picture is the problem I am having, my garage plug has a U shaped ground and the adapter plug I have is round and does not fit.

    Tommy on

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