What is this 120-volt duplex receptacle with four slots at top and bottom?

Monday, May 6, 2019

We found this one in a late 1950’s house that had virtually no remodeling since it was built. Although the receptacle looks like it was designed to take a 4-prong plug, it is actually an ungrounded (2-wire) quad receptacle with four sockets to plug into, manufactured by GE during the 1950s. Each plug has to be a narrow-type in order to plug in all four. It was not a popular product and, shortly after this one was installed, the NEC changed to require grounded (three-slot) receptacles. Here’s what it looks like from the back.

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  To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:

 • What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?

 Why is an opening in the wall around the side of an electrical receptacle outlet a safety defect?  

 When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required? 

 When should I replace electric receptacle outlets? 

 What are "self-contained" electrical receptacle outlets and switches?

 What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?

 Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?

 What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?

 What is a "backstab" receptacle outlet? 

 Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?   

 What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet? 

 Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

 Does a home inspector remove receptacle outlet cover plates?

 When was the current receptacle/outlet spacing of 12-feet first required? 

 When was the three-slot (grounding) outlet/receptacle first required? 

 Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

 Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized? 

 How many electrical receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?  

 Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacle outlets?

 How I can tell if a receptacle outlet is tamper resistant?

 What is a false ground, bootleg ground, or cheated ground receptacle? 

 How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

 How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced?  

 What is reversed polarity at an outlet/receptacle? Why is it dangerous? 

 Is an ungrounded electric receptacle outlet dangerous?

 My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?  

 Is there an adapter that can be placed on a two-slot receptacle to make it safe? 

 How do the new tamper-resistant electric outlets work?

 Why is there no bathroom electric receptacle in this old house?

 How can I tell if the electric receptacle outlets are grounded? 

 How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

 What are the most common problems/defects found with electric receptacle outlets during a home inspection?


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