If you look closely at the male connector on a three prong extension cord, you’ll notice that one of the blades is slightly wider than the other. It’s a subtle difference, but it matters.
A modern three prong grounded wall outlet will have one of the parallel sockets slightly longer (taller?) than the other in order to properly match the larger prong on the connector.
The larger of the two wall outlet sockets is considered the “carrier” and it is the one that actually delivers the power. The smaller of the two is the “neutral” and it provides grounding back to a true earth ground.
Because the two prongs are so similar in size, it is possible to force a two prong plug (no ground pin connector) into the socket upside down. It will work, but it is not safe.
When the neutral becomes the carrier and the carrier becomes the neutral, it is possible in some circumstances to deliver voltage to the actual body of a tool or appliance if it is metal.
Never force an extension cord connector into an outlet if it doesn’t go in smoothly and never force the plug on a tool or appliance into an extension cord if there is too much resistance.
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