2589: Outlet Denier

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Outlet Denier
There are regularly placed bumps on the underside just the right size to press the rocker switch on the power strip.
Title text: There are regularly placed bumps on the underside just the right size to press the rocker switch on the power strip.


This is the fifth installment in the series of Cursed Connectors and presents Cursed Connectors #78: The Outlet Denier.

The outlet denier connector in this comic is the large connector to the right. It has a plug on the downward side that is supposed to go into a power strip or other type of outlet. It has two long bars extending up and down off the plug, as well as a D shape on one side with another, slightly less long bar on the other side of the D, that has the cord connected to it. The purpose of the outlet denier is to block access to as many other ports on a power strip as possible, hence the name. It is designed to work with many different types of power strips, such as the standard one displayed in the comic, as well as ones with the sockets rotated 90 degrees (the long bar extending to the cord) and other types of outlets like the triple outlet on the end of many extension cords and two dimensional power strips that extend a couple of outlets left and right as well as up and down (the D shape on the side). The extreme bars to each side may also prevent plugging the Denier into an outlet close to the floor, forcing the user to use a power strip or similar item for it.

There is an example power strip displayed to the left of the outlet denier, used to help explain that the outlet denier is designed to block as many other sockets on a power strip as possible. The power strip is presumably of the type with a rocker switch that can turn the entire power bar off. This power bar has five outlets.

Many appliances require transformers or other large components on their power cord. Sometimes these "power bricks" are built around the plug. The comic is making fun of these types of power bricks, as they often block access to other sockets on a power strip or wall outlet. This can be really annoying when you want to plug in many different appliances into a power strip.

Other plugs are deliberately designed to block the other half of a duplex outlet, preventing users from plugging anything else in that could overload the circuit.[actual citation needed] The comic could be depicting an extreme case of a cumbersome connector shape designed to block an entire power strip, as the appliance connected to it uses so much power that a single extra item plugged into the power strip would cause problems.

The title text says that the outlet denier has bumps on the underside of the long bar that would match up with the location of the rocker switch no matter which outlet of the strip it is plugged into. It's not clear whether this will turn the power switch off or force it always on. But either way, it gets in the way of the user being able to control the power themselves.

If it forces it off, then the Outlet Denier cannot even be used. So to at least assume someone might actually use it, it must force it on. Since there is nothing else that can go into the power strip, it is not that important whether it is possible to switch it off though.


[To the left is a power strip with a rocker switch at the top and five outlets, and a connected wire goes from the top off to the left. To the right is the plug that should go into one of the outlets. A curved wire comes from the right and connects to the end of the connector, which is longer than a normal plug. The prongs are visible underneath where the box ends. But instead of ending there, there is a bar horizontal to the first part, which is longer than the power strip itself. There is a D shaped bar attached to this long bar, centered on the middle of the bar. If it was plugged in, the long bar would cover all the other outlets of the power strip.]
[Text above the image:] Cursed Connectors #78
[Text below the image:] The outlet denier

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


All you need is a US to UK adapter to block three outlets. It is why I bought a US to micky-mouse lead so as not to be greedy.

A missing i in "undersde" the title text While False (talk) 21:47, 4 March 2022 (UTC)

It's fixed now. I'm not sure what the policy is about updating here, I think we try to keep the original in a history page. Barmar (talk) 22:46, 4 March 2022 (UTC)
Try a Trivia? As last seen 2587:_For_the_Sake_of_Simplicity#Trivia, for reference.
(Hmmm, I wonder how many (noticed!) re-edits there are. Not all will be exactly so marked, but every Trivia section can be checked - when someone has time.) 02:46, 5 March 2022 (UTC)

The cursed connectors series is alive again! GcGYSF(asterisk)P(vertical line)e (talk) 06:05, 5 March 2022 (UTC)

Outlet deniers are a real thing that actually exists . For example, the Instant Pot air fryer attachment has one of these on its plug to discourage people from using it at the same time as the main pot (which would be bad). Photo here: https://www.adventurousway.com/images/i/fzjll58c5a77/1536w/gear-reviews/instant-pot-air-fryer-lid-review/air-fryer-lid-plug.webp

Came her to say this. But, it's also to keep anything from using the second outlet, as the air fryer lid is 1500W, and just about anything else would trip a breaker. -- Dtgriscom (talk) 18:25, 5 March 2022 (UTC)

Exept in Canada, our kitchen plugs get 15A for the top, and 15A more for the bottom. the two outlets are electrically separated from each other on the hot side, with each outlet getting a separate phase, share a neutral, and use a dual ganged breaker. EvilGeniusSkis (talk)

Separate phases? Households in the UK tend to get just one phase (semi-randomly?) from the power-grid. Very occasionally, a(n already occasional) power-cut will affect ~⅓ of the houses on a street when it's obviously a specific failure tripped at the neighbourhood transformer. Though questions by the people wanting to install SmartMeters suggests that it's possible for not just large businesses/community buildings to be tapped into multiphase supplies.
I wonder if this is due to 230V vs 110V!
I have a dedicated fuse-box slot that goes to the cooker wall-switch (it's actually gas, so just needs 'operating' power nothing current-hungry, but it would need more if I changed to all-electric) which also has a socket that I presume sits on the same circuit but may be more internally limited. You know, I haven't had to fiddle with that for around 20 years, so forgive me if I'm hazy. ;) 02:16, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

Any idea what the D shape might be? Is it to deny some specific shape of power connection I'm having trouble visualizing, or simply a handle (though I also have trouble visualizing the designers of this adding such a convenient feature). 23:32, 4 March 2022 (UTC)

It might be the way to block the other outlet on a wall plug. 00:01, 5 March 2022 (UTC)
Wouldn't the long bars on the top and bottom already do that? N-eh (talk) 01:12, 5 March 2022 (UTC)
I'm amused by the plug orientation. Over here, I'm used to 'horizontal spread' configuration, like this, with the occasional rare diagonally-skewed vertical assembly.
But the 'Denier' seems to be only marginally-denying (possibly the D-handle will be awkward, but not more than the straight edge is a basic trip-hazard or full preventer of using 'badly'-placed sockets because of the floor).
Of the three plugs currently in the 5-way I've got sitting flat on the bench next to me, one has the USB-charger-cable poking straight up (coaxial to the pins), one has the USB cable jutting out of the 'top' of the plug (towards me, as the strip has its Earth slots towards me) and the third is a standard pre-moulded plug (leading to a cloverleaf end plugged in a laptop power-supply module) and so the cable nuts out of the bottom (away from me) - this all being BS1363-compatible.
But although there might be tricky situations for each plug (the coax-out wouldn't plug so easily into the socket on the wall in the other room, with the sofa up against it, though the up/down-cabled ones don't have problems.
This denier (assuming UK-standard pins, but same orientation as shown) would actually plug into just one of my household wall-sockets (either of the two switched outlets it has, though it might block one of them if I choose the wrong one to plug to) because that's half way up a wall. I could probably get three of them in this 5-way 'extension strip' I mentioned, certainly two (and one other plug?). Depends upon the size of the D bit.
edit, for something other than a typo/misformat: ...the 'T-bar' would actually deny the half-up-wall-double-socket-unit's second socket, I realise, , though I may be able to put my coax-USB-plug through the D-hole. 03:29, 5 March 2022 (UTC)
But obviously there are weird things with US sockets. I've been to the states, and also know the plugs from the ones that sometimes come in boxed goods - usually supplemented with a UK version as well, by the official distributor in this country. 03:20, 5 March 2022 (UTC)

The D shape might be to even defeat something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Flexible-Protector-Outlets-Office-Travel/dp/B07T83PY3F?th=1 12:36, 5 March 2022 (UTC)

This is basically the opposite of an outlet expander. Is that worth mentioning? BunsenH (talk) 23:51, 4 March 2022 (UTC)

in the article it says "Many (most?) power strips have a rocker-style power switch at one end". this might be the case in the US but it is definitely not a global thing. whole power board switches are pretty uncommon here in Australia where most of them have switches per socket or none at all. would it make sense and be correct to edit this to say something like "It is common in the US have a rocker-style power switch at one end of a powerboard"? TomW1605 (talk)

Rocker switchs are very common all over the world with the exception of the commonwealth, where most (all?) countries require switches on the sockets. But e.g. in continental Europe, USA and all Asian and Middle Eastern countries I have visited so far, sockets with integrated switches do not exist at all. So you either have none or one on the power strips, making the latter option very common. (Though of course rockerless exist for all applications where you totally do not need a switch and want to save half a buck or 3 cm of length.)
It's not uncommon in the US to see a switch that controls an outlet. You can also get an outlet/switch combo (one of the outlets is replaced with a standard switch), which can be - but aren't necessarily - used to control the connected outlet. And then there are outlets (typically required outdoors or near taps) that have cutoff switches to prevent shorts. 19:56, 5 March 2022 (UTC)
Of Course you can always install a switch an have it control a socket. Comined panels with switches and sockets are common all over the world. I have one in half of my rooms, but the switch is always used for lighting and doing otherwise is much, much rarer and not standard at all whereever I've been so far. With exception of UK and Malta (have not been to Australia so far), where almost every socket has a switch directly integrated (and those who do not seemed pretty old). With such solutions beeing the norm on every outlet it is of course unecessary to have switches on power strips, making this type rare. But most parts of the world I know off have exactly the opposing relation: Switch on socket very rare, switch on power strips very common. Stores around here often offer 20 types of strips with switch to any 1 type without. Personally, I only buy the latter because the switches usually lit up when on and that sucks.
ok i didn't know there are so common in europe. i simply think that making a blanket statement that "Many (most?)" have the switch is wrong. simply saying "Many" would be better. TomW1605 (talk) 09:21, 6 March 2022 (UTC)
I have several without switches in my house... So I have changed to Many --Kynde (talk) 17:07, 6 March 2022 (UTC)

The title text confused me: I read it as "denier" (the thickness of thread in fabric), rather than "deny-er". I was trying to resolve the interplay between "electrical sockets" and "their strand thickness". 08:25, 7 March 2022 (UTC) (User: Gye Greene, 7 Mar 2022, 18:19 Brisbane Australia)

I've read it like that so many times! I've written a huge amount of copy for outdoor equipment websites, and referenced the denier of tent fabrics and clothing. A Lot. I've even written about the history of the denier measurement on several occasions (yeah, I really am that rock & roll). So climate-change deniers and holocaust deniers always seem a little incongruous for a few seconds before my brain translates.Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 10:09, 8 March 2022 (UTC)