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Auto-Locking Electrical Outlet

"Lock-it Socket"
  [vote for,

The NEMA 1 and 5 electrical connectors are the type most commonly used throughout North America, as well as in Japan and a few other places. For some reason, and although it's not required by the specification, the vast majority of these connectors have a small hole at the tip of each flat blade. This electrical outlet would take advantage of this fact, by allowing devices that are plugged in to lock into the outlet.

A pair of small spring-loaded pins inside the outlet fits into the holes when the device is plugged in, indicating successful attachment with a satisfying "click!" A small button next to the outlet would spread the pins apart, allowing removal of the plug. This way, plugs would no longer come partway or entirely out of the socket, leading to a potentially unsafe condition. For safety, the pins would also be designed to release if the plug is pulled hard enough, as if by some klutz tripping over the cord.

ytk, Oct 06 2011

http://www.qwiklok.com [FlyingToaster, Oct 06 2011]


       [FlyingToaster]: I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of using the mysterious holes to lock the plug into the socket. However, with those extension cords, you still have the weak link at the outlet itself. In fact, those cords are pretty much pointless as far as I can tell, since it's trivial to create a "locking" connection by simply tying the cords together where they meet. I guess those might make sense for specialized industrial purposes, where you have dedicated cords to supply power tools that are frequently rotated in and out of usage. But I'm thinking more along the lines of vacuum cleaners and televisions here, hence the need to actually build it into an outlet for it to be useful.
ytk, Oct 06 2011

       This actually wouldn't be legal in undustrial applications. BION, yanking the plug out of the socket is an approved last-ditch emergency measure for de-energizing 110VAC electrical devices. It's for the same reason that OSHA disallows knotting the plugs or any other means of keeping an extension cord from coming unplugged by accident: you might have to do it on purpose, and in a hurry.
Alterother, Oct 06 2011

       The description specifically says that it would be designed to release when there was enough force applied.   

       On the flip side, this invention could mask a problem with retension force. If an outlet has poor retention force, it will often have a poor connection that can overheat. If your plugs are falling out, you really ought to replace the outlets.
scad mientist, Oct 06 2011

       Oh, right, so it does. It would still have to be tested and approved, but that's the feature that might put it into widespread industrial use (where I foresee a major market).
Alterother, Oct 06 2011

       Well, it would require enough force so that it won't fall out with a moderate tug, but not enough so that the molded strain relief on the plug itself gave way before the plug came out of the socket. The average adult should be able to yank it out of the socket if necessary, albeit with a fair amount of effort. Anyway, Twist-Lock is generally considered a connector for industrial usage, and no amount of pulling on one of those will cause it to come loose. This can't possibly be any less safe than that.
ytk, Oct 07 2011

       The twist-lock is most often used for higher voltages where yanking the plug from an energized socket poses the risk of arcing.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011

       Twist-locks are also available for standard 120V plugs.
NoOneYouKnow, Oct 07 2011

       Sorry, I should have included 'in industrial applications' in that statement.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011


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