I posted a question on the DIY SE site, and it was recommended that maybe a part of it would be better asked here.

Consider these two outlets:

enter image description here enter image description here

The blue WR logo indicates that the outlet is "weather-resistant"; it has design features intended to keep water, dust, dirt, etc out of its inner workings. Current electrical code requires outlets in any outdoor areas to be WR-rated, and they're a good idea for "wet" indoor areas like kitchens, bathrooms etc. as well.

Notice the first picture has the plug in what most U.S. residents would call "right-side-up" orientation; the blades are above the ground pin and it looks like a face. However, the blue WR logo is upside-down when you look at it this way.

The second picture has the plug "upside-down" compared to our normal sensibilities; the ground pin is on top of the "live" blade slots. The blue WR logo also happens to be right-side up in this orientation. From an engineering perspective, this may provide additional shock safety by presenting the ground pin first to any water that falls onto the outlet; the question of just how big a deal a WR outlet's orientation is is the remaining subject of the related question on the DIY site.

The question for the UX gurus is, does the orientation of the logo appear deliberate?

That is, are the manufacturers, by placing the logo the way they did, trying to tell you that the outlet should be installed "upside-down", thus orienting the logo properly? And a related question would follow: Does this seem an effective way to indicate proper orientation, or would a more explicit "this side up" be a better way to approach it?

EDIT: Benny had a great idea, which works for certain outlet designs. However, there are also outlets like this:

enter image description here

which use and thus expose the space between outlets, and so something different would be needed here. However, the metal chassis that screws into the wall is NOT replaceable without replacing the entire plug (all these plugs are designed not to be disassembled; they're weather-resistant after all and so have a seal preventing water leaking in), and that has been used in the past for various warnings.

  • Unfortunately, the answer to whether this is deliberate or not isn't answerable without knowing if the orientation matters. A few google searches didn't find me an answer to that. Apr 20, 2012 at 16:50
  • 1
    For what it's worth, I doubt I'd be inclined to buy a powerpoint that was emblazoned with its manufacturer's logo in bright cyan. Some un-substantiated comments on the web say that the idea of putting the ground pin at the top is to prevent a piece of falling metal being able to make simultaneous connection with both live pins (if the plug is a little away from the wall).
    – Kit Grose
    Apr 23, 2012 at 0:14
  • Someone should email the manufacturer!
    – Nic
    Apr 23, 2012 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


The orientation of the logo could very well work as a signal for the electrician mounting the outlet, but it is not an exact method. You do not know for sure that this orientation is the correct one. A better way to do this is to doubble code the orientation with the words "UP" and an arrow pointing upwards. It would support both native English speakers and those who don't know a word of English, like this:

Improved usability through an upward pointing arrow and the word UP

The placement would be even better if we could replace the "WR" logo with UP, but I think marketing department would place a veto on that position. The reason for placing it in the middle is that it will not be visible when mounted, since there is probably i cover on everything else but the area of electrical connection.

One could also place the UP on the metal on the top, but I think that this part is replaceable, and as such, not a good place to put signs. This leaves us with the white space, which is one solid piece of plastic, which could be replaced, but having the same marker on them.

Edited Image according to comment

enter image description here

  • That would work well for a normal outlet like in the picture. However there are also GFCI and "decorator" outlets which use the plate with the big rectangular hole, and in that case the space between outlets isn't hidden like it is for an ordinary plug. The metal chassis however is NOT replaceable (not without replacing the entire outlet) and so it's an option.
    – KeithS
    Apr 20, 2012 at 17:33
  • @KeithS If the metal chassis isn't replaceble, that's where I'd put it! It would be a better place to put it, and possibly also a "DOWN" word with an arrow pointing down on the lowest part. (see edited image). Apr 20, 2012 at 17:48

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