Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Help Me, O Internet!

There are some interesting features in our new house, but the weirdest one by far is this strange electrical outlet in our bedroom. Below is a diagram of two different types of outlets.

The outlet on the left is your average, everyday outlet, which are quite numerous in this house. The outlet on the right is this mystery outlet that's on one of the outer walls of our bedroom. Notice that the outlet looks sort of normal except that the two upper prongs are rotated 90 degrees from usual.

In trying to figure out what this outlet could possibly be, I asked my dad, the handyman of all handymen. Unfortunately, he'd never heard of such a thing. So next, I looked it up on the internet. Googling for "electrical outlets types United States" I came across the Wikipedia article about domestic AC power plugs and sockets. I learned quite a bit about power plugs and what they look like around the world. It was all very interesting. There are thirteen standard types of sockets, used around the world. The Wikipedia article had pictures of these thirteen standard types (A through M), but none of them are this mystery outlet. So then I read the fine print about the North American types, and it suggested that "plugs with two flat parallel pins are 240 V variants" of the standard type A (two-prong) plug, and are very rare. But there was no mention of the three-prong mode, but I think I'm going to go ahead and assume that this is simply a high-voltage variation of the type B (three-prong) plug.

This brings me to my questions for the internet. First, am I right that this is a high-voltage outlet? Second, assuming that this is a high-voltage outlet, why is it in our bedroom? I mean, sure, you have high-voltage outlets for your electric stove, your clothes dryer and the like, but the outlets for those appliances don't have this shape to them. They're usually a lot bigger than the standard outlet, for starters. More importantly, what sort of high-energy appliance would one put in the bedroom? A supercomputer? (I saw that IBM servers can be connected to such an outlet, but I'd think that the noise would really get to you.) Another stove, in case you wanted to bake yourself a snack? An enormous hairdryer? (But why wouldn't the outlet be in the bathroom then?) A super-mondo deluxe vibrator? (…and where can I get one?)

Help me, O Internet! You are my only hope!


Susie said...


Rebecca said...

Susie, I bet you are right. The outlet is right below the window. I looked up some heavy-duty GE window AC units, and some of them do require exactly that type of outlet!

I didn't even think of an air conditioner, because the house has central AC. The window has recently been replaced, so I probably won't find any evidence of an old AC unit, but I will definitely take a look. Thank you for resolving this mystery for me!

Laura said...

Does that mean Susie is smarter than the internet?

I always knew genius ran in our family. :-)