This has bothered me for many years, but I'm only now coming around to ask about it.

I don't know if this is unique to Sweden or something, but for whatever reason, when I try to plug things into the standard power strips (see photo), they physically won't go in. If I try another socket on the same strip, it might fit there.

They look visually identical! One will go in and the next won't. For example the standard power connectors for Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Or SNES. Or any console. Or anything. It seems completely random.

I've carefully examined the plugs. They look exactly identical. Nothing special about them that would "block" them. Yet they physically cannot be pushed down, in spite of no plastic parts being in the way, and the metal pins are perfectly aligned to the holes.

Yes, I have tried both sides. Many, many times.

I'm starting to wonder if this is some sort of security mechanism and that the power strip has some sort of mechanical "blocker" when it detects that too many devices are connected or something. But how could that possibly work? There are multiple unused sockets in my power strip right now, and I just cannot connect my PlayStation/Saturn cable into those. I have to unplug an already attached one and use its place instead. Even though they look exactly identical.

I cannot stress this enough: both the plugs and the connectors on the power strip look exactly identical. No special colour coding, or different shape, or extra/lacking pins. Nothing like that whatsoever. They physically won't go into some of the sockets on the power strip.

It would mean a ton for me to finally get this maddening fact of life straightened out. Sometimes I feel like I've gone completely mental and am hallucinating.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "... look exactly identical." Measure them! Use a digital calipers to measure the pin diameters and pin centre to centre spacing. Take the power strip apart, remove the shutters and push the plug in and see if there is an obstruction. If not then put the shutter back in position and try again. It might cost you a power-strip rather than your sanity. $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Jun 8, 2022 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Transistor side note: Digital calipers give a false sense of precision. I strongly discourage their use particularly if there's a wish for increased precision. In my opinion the graduation on the nonius of an analog caliper shows exactly what precision can be expected when using it. When increased precision (< 50 μm) is needed, you must use a micrometer. In this single case as there are two apparently equal parts are compared, a digital caliper could be used but whenever absolute values are expected, not. $\endgroup$
    – Ariser
    Jun 9, 2022 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


Apparently the type of power strip your picture shows is one with something like a child protection. I.e. the green parts (kind of a slider) visible in the picture.

Those are mechanical devices which will block anything entering the holes except they are pushed aside really simultaneously.

Now, there's something happening which prevents certain plugs from being inserted in certain sockets. There are multiple reasons and some might exacerbate the problem when coming together.

  1. Wear out. The mechanics behind this child protectors can wear out. So they loose precision, get out of balance or show increased friction.

  2. The plugs you want to insert might be bent a little bit. This could result in slightly assymetric buildup of force on the two plastic sliders behind the holes.

  3. The prongs you want to insert might be scratched at the tip increasing friction between the prong and the plastic sliders.

  4. There are mainly two types of plugs in Europe. Plugs with only two contacts and with no protective earth have pins with a smaller diameter. That might cause the pins pressing uneven and off-center in the holes on the sliders.

Some of these four causes might work together that enough asymmetry is gained to block the sliders from giving way.


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