The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE!
Keep It On The Ground
I own an Apple II Plus with a three-prong power plug. My house has only the older two-prong outlets. Is it safe to use a three-prong to two-prong adapter, or should I use a spike protector?
Although using a two-prong adapter on a grounded, three-prong plug is defeating a potentially valuable safety feature, many people who—like you—have only the older outlets use them without incident. Adding a spike protector may defend your computer against voltage transients and surges, but it will not provide additional protection against shock hazard in the event of a short circuit, which is the purpose of the grounded prong on the plug.
One alternative is to attach the ground wire provided on some two-prong adapters to the faceplate screw in the center of the outlet. Before you count on this, make sure the outlet box itself is grounded. In some older homes, this may not be the case. To insure safety, it may be necessary to run a separate line for grounding. Contact a qualified electrician.
One additional note: A water pipe may not be a good ground, especially if a water meter is attached inline in your basement. The meter may contain plastic pipe, insulating the house side from ground.