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Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

APC UPS for Home and Office Forum

Schneider Electric support forum for our APC offers including Home Office UPS, Surge Protectors, UTS, software and services and associated products designed to share knowledge, installation, and configuration.

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Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/18/2008


Hello everyone,

I just purchased my first UPS today and plugged it into my wall. The "building wiring fault" light went on so I called the last electrician that came to my home last year to do some small work in my basement. He told me that one thing he noticed when he was last here was that I have no ground in my home. Well this sucks because I'd like to use my new UPS. I went to home depot during lunch today and bought an outlet tester. The tester confirmed what the electrician said to me over the phone. There is no ground in my home... So it's basically just open ground everywhere.

I've been using a standard $10.00 six plug surge protector power bar for the past 3 years with a tv, vcr, dvd player, high speed dsl modem, monitor, and my 450 watt pc connected to it without anything dying or ruining at all. I know hey it beats the purpose to be using a surge protector power bar even though I have no ground in my home wiring but hey at least it works as a power strip. The power surge bar I'm currently using is plugged into the same outlet I want to use my UPS on. & Of course I wouldn't use the power surge bar if I use my UPS.

Image:
!https://melissa1.sslpowered.com/temp%20web%20images/eLECTRICAL%20007.jpg!

I'd like to know if I can still use my UPS on an outlet even though it has no ground. Can this be deadly? Will it ruin my pc equipment? Do I need to worry? Will my UPS still give me some form of protection or not? If so what will it do and not do for me? & if I do use it what precautions do I have to take?

I only want to use my UPS for my 450 watt pc, 19 inch crt monitor, high speed dsl modem, 500GB external usb hard drive, and my speaker equipment. My tv, dvd player, and vcr will not be used on my UPS.


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superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/20/2008


Can't I just swap my outlet with a GFI outlet? Problem solved or no?

See Answer In Context

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BillP
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This reply was originally posted by Oscar on APC forums on 3/24/2008


I would just like to reference this APC knowledge base that talks about improper or miswired grounding.


http://nam-en.apc.com/cgi-bin/nam_en.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1669&p_created=1010390400&p...


Question
What are the grounding requirements for APC products?

Answer
Although the Surge Arrest, Surge Station, Back-UPS, Back-UPS Pro, Smart-UPS,
Smart-UPS V/S, and Matrix-UPS products will appear to work properly without a
ground, APC always recommends that these units are grounded properly.
Grounding is not for functionality, but rather for safety. Numerous issues are
involved when there is no ground, including potential for electric shock,
signal attenuation, and unpredictable operation. Therefore, APC does not
support using these products in any ungrounded application, even with an earth
leakage monitor or other such device in place to alarm in case of excess
current or drop in resistance.

Background: Earth leakage monitors measure the resistance between phase (hot)
and any current-carrying component to ensure that resistance remains high.
Leakage current is typically measured by breaking the ground connection back to
the mains and inserting a specific load that simulates a person interrupting
the ground. Devices without a ground are highly insulated, and therefore the
missing ground is not an issue during normal operation. However, were the
device to become energized due to a fault or failure, it would look for a way
to deflect the current to ground. Without a ground present, the current would
take the path of least resistance. This would be hazardous as the return path
may be through the load itself, a data line, or even a person.


In 120 Vac environments, each electrical device must reference the same ground
which originates at the main service panel. Additionally, a properly grounded
chassis acts as a filter against EMI/RFI interference. If this ground
reference were missing, the EMI/RFI interference may result in erratic behavior
of the device.

Certain types of data communication systems require a reference to ground.
Additionally, some data lines use the ground as a shield against noise.
RS-232, and other data cables, rely on ground to provide a return reference for
the signal (although this is not the case with isolated data systems such as
Ethernet). Without a ground, the signal will attenuate.

cathudog_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/18/2008


Did the electrician have any ideas what to do and do you mean you only have two wires hooked to rec no bare wire third ground. If thats the case I would run a third wire down to the switch box and hook to the neutral bar but do not know weather this is the right thing to do for sure. I may be wrong maybe the whole house needs rewiring I just checked mine by plugging it into a plug with no third lug and I get the red light.

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/18/2008


@ cathudog

Yes I took the faceplate off of my wall outlet and there is only a black and white wire. There is no green wire, or bare wire whatsoever. So both the electrician and my outlet tester are right by saying there is "open ground" [ie: no ground wiring]. I will not be rewiring my home at all and just need to know the answers to my first post please.

TheNotoriousKMP_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/18/2008


The Site Wiring Fault LED will remain illuminated, and you leave yourself extremely succeptable to surges.

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/18/2008


I am not sure about Canada, but here in the US the green or bare conductor is the 'equipment grounding conductor'.

The purpose of the EGC is to provide a path for fault current in the event of a fault situation (short).

The EGC serves no other purpose.

The white or neutral conductor is the 'grounded conductor'.

It is the actual "GROUND" of the system.

In electrical services when the first point of disconnect is the main circuit breaker in the electrical breaker panel, the neutral and EGC are connected together and 'bonded' to the systems grounding electrode.

Internally, the UPS should have all non current carrying metal parts connected to the UPS' EGC which is the round prong on the cord end.

I would say the UPS will work, but in the event of a fault, it is likely to cause damage to the UPS and any equipment connected to it.

As an electrician, I would recommend grounding the circuit just for the sake of safety.

Message was edited by: Arctucas

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/19/2008


@ Arctucas

I understand that you say I should get my outlet rewired with a ground but I don't think an electrician (you being one), would actually come to my home just to create one grounded outlet... Or would you? & yes Canada's electrical codes of conduct are exactly the same as those in the U.S. So green/bare wire means the same thing here.

Anyways you say I should worry about any faults/surges. But if this were such a problem why hasn't my cheap $10 six outlet power surge bar fried up or damaged anything in the past 3 years of it's use? I have so much stuff connected to that old surge bar and nothing bad has happened. You see I'm very observational and pay close attention to electrical problems. For example if I hear a storm outside I shut everything off including my computer and than unplug the cheap surge bar from my wall outlet until the storm has passed. Once the storms gone I plug the power bar back in the outlet and turn on all my pc, tv, etc. As you can read I'm very watchful of electrical messes. The only thing I cannot control is power outs. I'm not a fortune teller so I cannot tell when the power will go out in my home or the entire neighborhood. That's the only thing that I cannot control here and now. It's one of the reasons why I purchased this new APC UPS yesterday. And in as a matter of fact I'll be happy if the only protection I get is battery backup protection.

I understand that an evil surge may happen and that lightening may strike or whatnot. But I've been very watchful up until now with my current cheap power bar. Can't I just do the same routine with my new UPS as I'm doing with this old power surge bar? I'll unplug the UPS during storms and such. I don't see why so would be any different on an UPS compared to my old power surge bar. If there is any higher safety issue using the UPS rather than my power surge bar let me know. For example the UPS has a battery and the power surge bar doesn't... If that or any other such reason would cause any danger to me or my equipment please say so. I'm not saying that it's more dangerous to use my UPS because I don't know. I'm just guessing here... If it's the same thing as using my old surge bar than I should have no fear right?

Thanks

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/19/2008


I cannot speak for other electricians, but yes, I would install only one grounded receptacle circuit if that is what you requested (and were willing to pay, of course). However, I would advise you that using a three prong receptacle without an EGC is against code. You may, however, use two prong receptacles without an EGC, although there will be no fault path. This, however, limits the use of those receptacles to equipment/appliances that have two prong cord ends. And no, it is not acceptable to use an adapter or cut off the ground prong to get it to plug in.+*

I cannot say why you have experienced no problems thus far, it may be that you have had no faults or surges. You would have to ask the manufacturer of the surge protector how it functions. All I am saying is how the receptacle should be wired.

As I stated, the EGC is for fault current, it is a safety issue, not necessarily a 'will it work?' type of thing.

When I purchased my new system, I installed two dedicated 20 Ampere circuits exclusively for my PC and associated peripherals.

Frankly, if I were you, I would just pay to have the wiring corrected. It may cost a hundred or more, but what is your system worth?

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/19/2008


@ arctucas


Ok well than let me ask you a question and please be honest. As I mentioned before there are some grounded outlets in my basement and kitchen. The kitchen is obviously already done up with cabinets, pantry, and all the other things a kitchen would use so all wiring is inside the walls. The basement however is not renovated at all so all of the walls have open wiring which is accessible to anyone. I've used my outlet tester to check the outlets in my basement and they show up as "correct wiring". Upon visual inspection of the outlets you can see the ground wire inside tied around a couple of screws in the outlets casing. Now if I were to pay you to somehow get a ground wire or all three hot+neutral+ground up to an outlet on the second floor of my home how much would you charge me? What would you do to get the wire(s) all the way up there? I'd like to know as much info as you can give me so I can possibly call an electirican to do some work for me.

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/19/2008


You could not, by code, use the dedicated kitchen countertop receptacle circuits for a receptacle on the second floor.

But, if it is possible to fish straight up; assuming the receptacle to be refed is on an exterior wall, starting in the basement directly below the receptacle you want to refeed, and drilling through the plate up into the wall cavity on the first floor, cutting an access hole in the drywall, going to the second floor removing the existing outlet box and drilling down into the same bay on the first floor that you went to from the basement, fishing the Romex up from the basement to the second floor, tying in both ends, (if no more than 25 feet of Romex were used) I would say around $140-$160 depending on certain circumstances such as how much insulation is in the walls. If you could find a receptacle on the first floor to jump off of, again it would need to be directly below the second floor receptacle, probably around $100. If the walls are plaster and lath, add another $50.

If the receptacle on the second floor is on an interior wall, I would pull up an exterior wall from the basement to the attic, cutting access holes on both first and second floor walls, and then running across the attic and down the interior wall to the receptacle. Assuming this would entail using less than 75 feet of Romex, I would say $250-$300 depending on circumstances in the attic and the other previously noted exceptions.

I personally do not make drywall/plaster repairs, so you would need to do that, or find someone to fix the hole(s) in the wall(s).

Message was edited by: Arctucas

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/20/2008


Can't I just swap my outlet with a GFI outlet? Problem solved or no?

KVAr_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/20/2008


Who installed the 3-prong outlets? Unless they're downstream of a GFCI, it is a code violation to install 3 prong outlets as it creates a false perception that the ground is available, as it had happened to you. Yes, the computer will run fine. Surge protection should also work fine since the surge coming in through the pair can still shunt across.

It's just a safety issue.

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/23/2008


I presume then, you have two sets of wires in the basement receptacle?

'LINE' in the 'input' or 'feed' to the receptacle; the wires 'coming into' the box from another device.

'LOAD' is the 'output' going to the 'DOWNSTREAM' device(s); the wires leaving the box.

'DOWNSTREAM' is an(other) device or devices that are 'fed' from the device in question.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you connect the wiring to the GFCI correctly. See my previous post.

a 'DEVICE' is a receptacle or switch or anything that connects, interrupts, or transfers electrical energy, but does not use or consume power.

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/20/2008


Yes, you could use a GFCI receptacle and jumper the neutral and ground terminals together, although I have heard of GFCIs experiencing nuisance tripping when connected to inductive loads (such as the transformer in the UPS).

Let me ask you what type of cable is supplying the receptacle in question; is it metal sheathed (type AC) or non-metallic (Romex)?

Message was edited by: Arctucas

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/20/2008


Arctucas wrote:
Yes, you could use a GFCI receptacle and jumper the neutral and ground terminals together, although I have heard of GFCIs experiencing nuisance tripping when connected to inductive loads (such as the transformer in the UPS).

Let me ask you what type of cable is supplying the receptacle in question; is it metal sheathed (type AC) or non-metallic (Romex)?
As mentioned before the outlet I'd like to use the 900VA 540watts APC UPS on is in my second floor bedroom. I unscrewed the outlet and took a picture for you to see. The outlet has no ground wire, and the cable doesn't seem to be metal sheathed. The hot and neutral wires are inside the crusty old looking black cable. It looks as if the blackness of it used to be shiny or something because you can see it glitter and shine a bit. The inside of the cable contains the hot, neutral, and some straw/hay/cardboard type brown looking braided material. Here's the picture below:

Note: You might notice that a wire came loose off the outlet. Hehehehe, I placed that back on afterwards. I guess I pulled the outlet outwards too far and it let go!!!

Image:
!http://i30.tinypic.com/264kolg.jpg!

I don't understand what you mean when you said you've heard some stories that GFCIs experience nuisance tripping when connected to inductive loads (such as the transformer in the UPS). What do you mean by "nuisance tripping"? Does that mean the lights go out in the house?

Anyways would using a GFCI outlet be safe and protect me from surges? Would it allow the APC UPS to give me 100% protection against surges? I don't really understand the difference between a GFCI outlet and a normal outlet that is grounded. You said I could jumper the neutral and ground terminals together if I do use one. Is there anywhere online where I could learn how to do that? If all is well and I can just swap the old outlet with a GFCI outlet please let me know where I can learn to do this online and I'll do it!!!! I guess what I'm trying to say is if it's 100% safe bringing me full normal operation of the UPS than please say so and I'll happily drive my way to home depot!

I just want protection, geez my pc is worth $2000 and it has over $500 of connected equipment externally. It's the only thing I have in my life worth so much... I need it to be safe from the evils of electricity. It's the first and only pc I've ever built all by myself. It's also the central part of my dang home business... If this goes, I go. & I don't have the money to pay someone $200+ dollars just to install a ground for me. I barely get by month to month, and got this UPS because it was on sale at $100. I've been wanting an UPS unit for 3 years. I don't mean to sound dum but I actually had a dream last night that my UPS was working... Than I woke up. No lie!

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/20/2008


GFCI - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GFCI

There are TVSS (Transient Voltage Surge Suppression) receptacles; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TVSS

From looking at your picture, in my professional opinion, you REALLY need to REPLACE that wiring, not 'just install a ground'. I understand you feel you cannot afford it, if I had to hire myself, I could not afford it! But - "Better Safe Than Sorry".

If you cannot repair that circuit, I would suggest you should relocate your rig to another receptacle where you have proper wiring.

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/21/2008


I've read that some GFCI's are used for pc equipment...

"RCDs with trip currents as high as 500 mA are sometimes deployed in environments (such as computing centers) where a lower threshold would carry an unacceptable risk of accidental trips. These high-current RCDs serve more as an additional fire-safety protection than as an effective protection against the risks of electrical shocks."

"Low sensitivity (LS): 3 – 10 – 30 A (typically for protection of machines)."


Arctucas can I use one or not with my UPS?

Oh and this is off topic but there is a outlet in my basement washroom that shows up as HOT/NEU REVERSE with my outlet tester. I took the faceplate off and did notice that the black wire is on the silver screw, and the white wire on the brass screw. I believe this can be a safety hazard. I want to fix this... All I have to do is swap the wires right? Meaning Black on brass and white on silver. Right? It's probably been like that for years. Would I also have to change the outlet or not?


Thanks

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/21/2008


Absolutely, you should correct the reverse polarity on the basement receptacle! Additionally, if that receptacle is in a bathroom, it is required by code to be GFCI protected,

As far as using a GFCI on your PC; I would say you COULD, but you may have the 'nuisance tripping', or you may not.

If you noticed, the current ratings for the equipment rated RCDs are much higher than for the GFCIs, which are intended for protection of personnel.

I presume you cannot relocate your equipment to another properly wired receptacle, then?

As I am sure you are aware, there is often more than one approach to solving problems. However, while there could be several solutions that MAY work, there is usually only one CORRECT solution.

The best advice I can offer is to PROPERLY REWIRE the receptacle in question. Or perhaps have another receptacle circuit installed. Either way, you should have a qualified (and preferably licensed and bonded) electrician examine the situation.

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/21/2008


Thank you Arctucas,

I will fix the reversed outlet myself and also look into having a licensed electrician come in and either fish, or install a new receptacle. There is just no other way to be safe! You are absolutely right! Thank you for your time and patience. If it costs too much to have an electrician do so I'll just take the UPS back and than save up to get the electrical work done. I'll than buy the UPS again afterwards... I just don't think I should hold onto the UPS because the manufacturer slip inside says it was made "JUNE 2007". I am not an expert when it comes to batteries but I don't think keeping a battery around without using it would be good.

Hey Arctucas what GFCI should I buy for the bathrooms? I hear there are so many kinds... I know nothing about the voltz, amps, or M/A whatevers!! Hahahaha. I'd also still like to get one for the outlet I'm using my cheap six strip power surge bar. Basically the same outlet I wanted to use the UPS on. Which one should I get for that??? Maybe I'd be drawing to much power even so and it would cause too much tripping even though I wouldn't be using the UPS, but I guess only someone like you would know. But hey theres a bathtub right behind the outlet wall so I think it would be safe to do so for my pc and for the person in the other room even though this outlet is in my bedroom. If I should just get the one for bathrooms let me know what kind. I'd hate to bring home the wrong GFCI outlet.

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/21/2008


All electrical devices must pass UL (or CSA in Canada) testing.

The main difference is the ampacity rating.

For residential use, there are two choices; 15 Amperes or 20 Amperes. You should look at the circuit breaker in the main breaker panel and determine what size is feeding the receptacle. Then simply match it up. Some GFCIs have indicator LEDs to tell you the power is on.

One thing to be aware of; you need to install the wires in the 'LINE' terminals of the GFCI receptacle. You will find places for two wires on both the hot (black) and neutral (white) wires. ALL GROUNDS MUST BE CONNECTED TO THE GROUND TERMINAL. If you have another receptacle being fed from that receptacle, and you wish to have it GFCI protected also, you would connect the second set of wires to the 'LOAD' terminals. The 'LOAD' terminals will covered by a piece of tape with cautions written on it. Use the 'LOAD' terminals ONLY for a DOWNSTREAM receptacle.

If you do not wish to have GFCI protection on any downstream receptacles, use only the 'LINE' terminals.

I would say any you might find at your local hardware or home improvement store will suffice.

And remember to disconnect the power before attempting the repair or replacement.

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/22/2008


What are the definitions for:

- Line

- Load

- Downstream






Thanks

superstar_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/24/2008


I'm actually hiring a electrician to come and do new wiring with a new grounded receptacle for the room I have the pc in. It's that simple! I need real protection not fake. I'm going to put GFCI's in the basement washroom and upstairs washroom myself.


Thanks for the help Artucus. You helped me a lot.

Oh and hey I can't use a 20AMP GFCI receptacle on a 15AMP breaker panel circuit right? Must it match with the breaker AMP? Meaning do I have to get a 15AMP GFCI instead. Because I have a 20AMP GFCI I got thinking any would work. This is for the basement washroom...

Arctucas_apc
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Re: Can I Use My New XS 900 Back-UPS On A Wall Outlet With Open Ground?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/24/2008


I have not had a chance to review that section of the 2008 N.E.C. as I know some things have changed.

I will need to get back to you on that, but since the 20A GFCI are usually more expensive, just use a 15A.

EDIT:

According to the N.E.C. 2008;
Article 210.21(B)(3) and Table 210.21(B)(3)
"Where connected to a branch circuit supplying two or more receptacles or outlets, receptacle ratings shall conform to the values listed in Table 210.21(B)(3)"

Table 210.21(B)(3) says that for a 15 Ampere rated circuit, the receptacle cannot be rated higher than 15 Amperes.

If the circuit were rated at 20 Amperes, either a 15 or 20 Ampere receptacle could be used.

Message was edited by: Arctucas