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Can You Use A 2-Prong Plug In A 3-Prong Extension Cord? [Described]

This article is for informational purposes. Always seek the advice of qualified professionals.

You own an electrical appliance that has a 2-prong plug and you want to connect it. But you see that you can’t do it because the cord is too short. So, you reach for the extension cord.

That’s when you see a problem. You have a 3-prong extension cord. I know it sounds familiar.

Can you use a 2-prong plug in a 3-prong extension cord?

It is possible to connect a 3-prong extension cord and 2-prong plug together. But there will be one problem. Your electrical appliance will not have a ground connection. As a result, the electrical appliance loses protection against high spikes. In addition, you can get electrocuted.

Well, that’s not it though. This isn’t all there is to know about this issue. But the article contains all the details.

So, what are you waiting for? Read on!

2-Prong Plug In 3-Prong Extension Cord: Is It Possible?

I see that you’ve decided to read the article. So, you really want to find out whether you can put a 2-prong plunge in a 3-prong extension cord.

Okay, let’s get that out of the way very quickly then.

The simple answer to this is – yes. It is absolutely possible to connect a 3-prong extension cord and 2-prong plug together.

Now, are you feeling skeptical about this practice because you find it difficult to plug in an electrical outlet? Well, don’t worry, I have good news for you!

You will not face any substantial drawbacks due to this practice. In fact, your electrical appliance or extension cord will not start acting up.

You probably already know this – the electricity runs smoothly from your 3-prong extension cord to your 3-prong appliance. Does your hunch tell you it won’t be the same for your 2-prong appliance? 

Guess what! Actually, electricity will run in the same manner.

Are you asking what that means? It’s pretty straightforward, your 2-prong electrical appliance will keep functioning properly. Yes, even when it’s connected with an extension cord that is 3-prong.

Wait, are you getting ready to connect a 3-prong extension cord and 2-prong plug together? Hold on, don’t get your hopes up already. 

Here’s the thing – yes, your electrical appliance will be fine. But does that mean it’s safe?

Sadly, I can’t give a simple yes or no answer just yet. Because there are some factors that can raise safety concerns. I have to discuss them first.

Let’s talk about them, shall we?

The Physics Behind 2-Prong And 3-Prong: Explained

Are you feeling intimidated because I just mentioned “physics”? It would be a lie if I said I didn’t feel that way either.  

But you must learn the basics first. Otherwise, it would be difficult to address the safety issues. So, bear with me.

Alright, if you are ready, let’s jump right in!

2-Prongs

Have a look at the two prongs of your electrical appliance. Well, just like there’s the neutral wire, we also have neutral prongs. And yes, one of the two prongs is a neutral prong. Now, are you wondering what’s the other one?

It’s called a hot prong and its wire is known as a hot wire.

So, how do these two prongs work? The circuit gets completed the moment you plug the two prongs into an outlet. 

Now, make a guess on what keeps your electrical appliance running. It’s the electricity that flows to the neutral prong from the hot prong. 

3-Prongs

Let’s talk about three prongs now. Actually, one of the three is the neutral prong. And another one is the hot prong. Yes, it’s the same as the 2-prongs.

You might be thinking this – why do you need a third prong when your appliance runs fine with two? That crossed our minds as well. 

You see, the function of the third prong is completely different. It mainly provides grounding for equipment. And grounding is extremely important. So, I’m going to discuss that separately.

Grounding

Basically, grounding is what saves us from getting electrocuted. You should also ground your main electrical panel. 

You might have a question about how grounding exactly saves you from electrocution. Let me address that then.

Suppose your electrical appliance starts acting up. When that happens, the electricity might go through the metal casings. It’s also possible that the metal casing is in physical contact with hot wire.

What happens after touching that metal casing or the appliance itself? Well, there could be two scenarios. 

If it was grounded, the electricity would go to the ground directly. But the experience will be unpleasant if the electrical appliance was not grounded. Because then the electricity would’ve passed through you and that is how you get electrocuted.

Okay, that will do. You know enough about the physics part now. Time to head over to the next part. 

Using 2-Prong Plug In 3-Prong Extension Cord: Is It Safe?

I understand that safety is the single most important aspect here. What’s the point if you are not safe in your own house, right? So, let’s talk about that now.  

Actually, you will be safe if you connect a 3-prong extension cord and 2-prong plug together. 

But there’s a catch. You are on the safe side for as long as your extension cord and appliance function properly. 

Now, what happens when your extension cord and appliance start to malfunction? That is exactly when you face the risks of getting electrocuted.

These incidents occur due to the fact that 2-prong plugs lack grounding. Here’s the thing – your extension cord’s third prong is not sitting idle. It also ensures grounding. And that grounding provides extra safety.

But that is not enough to protect your appliance. It is possible to protect only if its plug also contains a grounding prong.

What if we told you there was a way out? Okay, let’s discuss that then.

How To Safely Use 2-Prong Plug In 3-Prong Extension Cord?

There are two ways to safely connect a 3-prong extension cord and 2-prong plug together. So, let’s talk about these two.  

Double Insulation

You see, the design of the prongs also has an impact on safety. 

Some two prong devices are double insulated. If that’s your case, then you should be happy about it.

Because you won’t need a separate grounding connection. So, you can connect a 3-prong extension cord together with a 2-prong plug without a second thought.

Usually, you will find double insulation in prongs of devices that are fairly new. But it’s not the same for the conventional ones. This type of two prong appliance lacks grounding. Hence, the risk of an accident increases when the appliance is damaged.  

2-3 Prong Adapter

You can enjoy the benefit of the third prong by using a 2-3 prong adapter. It comes with a grounding prong which is small. And it can be linked with a source of grounding.

But it is necessary to ensure one thing. That is – the outlet to which the adapter is connected should be grounded. You can determine whether it is grounded by using a circuit tester.

Here are my suggestions on circuit testers in case you need one. You’ll surely love using them for their great performance.

Product 1
Product 2

The adapter will not serve its purpose properly if the outlet does not have a ground connection.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully, you have reduced the chances of being electrocuted.

FAQs

Question: Can you use 3-prong in a 2-prong extension cord?

Answer: No, you cannot use 3-prong in a 2-prong extension cord. Actually, the structural configurations of these two types of plugs are different. As a result, the setting is not compatible.

Question: Is there something you should avoid plugging in extension cords?

Answer: Yes. You should try to avoid power hungry appliances. For example, toaster oven, space heater, microwave, refrigerator, etc. 

Question: What else can a ground connection protect a house from?

Answer: A spike of surplus energy in your home’s electrical grid, or in a single outlet, might increase the likelihood of fire, shock, besides electrocution. Ground connection can protect you from it. 

Final Words

That was my take on whether you can use a 2-prong plug in a 3-prong extension cord. I hope that I have been able to answer your questions. 

In case you have further queries, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.

We’ll meet again soon. Until then, take care!