You need different outlets for different situations, read on to ensure that you have the correct outlets installed in your home. 

Why is it Important to Know About These Different Outlets?

There are many reasons why you should educate yourself on the different outlets around your home. Here are some cases where knowledge about your outlets might come in handy.

An indicator for electrical upgrades

In the list below we will go over many different outlets, including outdated ones. After reading this post you will know what to look out for when it comes to outdated outlets. If you see any in your home you will know it’s probably a good time to think about an electrical home inspection. 

New residential construction

Are you building a new home or a new portion into your already existing home? Your electrician will make sure all your outlets are up to code but it’s helpful that you also know a thing or two about outlets in case you want specific ones that fit your lifestyle (ie: USB, Recessed, and Smart outlets).

New outlet options

You may not be aware that there are many newer outlets that can make your life easier. Some of these outlets make your home safer (tamper resistant)  and some make it more convenient  (USB, Recessed, Smart). After reading this article you may consider upgrading some of your common outlets for more modern ones.

Ensure you have the correct outlets installed

Did you know you need a specific type of outlet installed in your bathroom? In the list below we discuss what different outlets are used for and where they should go, make sure you have the right outlets in the right place! 

Different Types of Electrical Outlets In Your Home

Check with your local electrician before adding one of these outlets into your home, you will need proper circuits in place first.

The Most Common

You have probably seen these in your home, let’s learn what each one does.

Three Pronged 15 Amp, 120 Volt

This is your standard outlet, you will see in many homes. It is cheap, easy to install and replace. This outlet contains two vertical slots as well as the ground pin (the sideways “D” shaped hole) at the bottom. The ground pin is used to help prevent electric shock.

20 Amp, 125 Volt

20 Amp, 125 Volt outlet

With these outlets you can use appliances that have a larger power draw without tripping your breaker. You may find these outlets in laundry rooms, garages, kitchens and anywhere where you have appliances that use a lot of power. Those appliances might include: washer, dryer, blender etc. 

A 20-amp outlet looks similar to a 15 amp one, except it has an extra horizontal notch sticking out of the left most prong, this makes the left prong look sort of like a sideways T.

20 Amp, 250 Volt

These outlets are meant for powerful appliances, generally for hobby shop equipment and large appliances.

Like the 20 amp 125 volt it may also have a horizontal notch sticking from the left most prong. 

Combination Switch & Outlet

These receptacles include an outlet and a switch. What is the benefit of using a switch/outlet combo? There are many benefits of combination switch receptacles, for instance: if you are using a device that turns on automatically when it is plugged in (ex: some shop lamps) you can plug it into the outlet and control it with the switch. 

Another example: you want to install a garburator in your kitchen sink but you don’t want to get an entirely new receptacle installed just for the garburator switch – instead you can change one of your two outlet receptacles with a combination switch receptacle. 

GFCI Outlets

an AFCI outlet with a device plugged into it

We’ve all  seen these in our bathroom; this is that outlet that will have two extra buttons attached that say “TEST” and “RESET”, sometimes the reset button is red.

 But why are these in the bathroom? GFCI outlets (or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets) are required for spaces near water. Common spaces where you may find GFCI outlets are: Bathrooms, basements, crawlspaces, and laundry rooms. They are designed to trip (cut the power off) if they believe an electrical source has become in contact with water. 

How does it work? This outlet specifically looks for a spike in electrical current (power surge), if it senses a power surge it will immediately trip the circuit to turn the power off. When water is in contact with an electrical device it will create a surge in power which will create an electric shock and electrical fire hazard so it’s important that we have an outlet that will trip and reduce this risk! 

Psst! Did you know it’s best practice to test your GFCI outlets monthly? 

AFCI Outlets

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlets look similar to GFCI outlets. These outlets protect you from arcs – arcs happen when electricity jumps between connections, this might create a buzzing sound or a spark and it is an electrical fire hazard. Arcing may occur if a rodent chews a wire or if you hammer a nail through the wall and accidentally hit a wire. 

When arcing occurs, the AFCI outlet detects it and trips the outlet. These outlets are usually found in bedrooms and kitchens.

Newer & More Modern

Technology is evolving and so are our outlets! If you don’t have these in your home you might want to consider an upgrade.

Tamper-Resistant Receptacles

tamper resistant outlet with testing

These are simply a must-have and are required in newer homes/ many commercial spaces.

These outlets are designed to keep anything other than plugs from being inserted into the outlet. So no hairpins, forks, fingers, or any objects other than the plug’s prongs.

How does it work? This outlet looks like your standard three prong outlet except you will notice some plastic shutters behind the two vertical slots. These shutters act as a barrier between the outside world and the electrical grid within, and they only open when a plug is inserted.

This eliminates the potential shock hazard that comes from inserting objects into the outlet. 

USB Outlets

cellphone charging using a usb outlet

We love seeing these installed into homes! These look like your standard outlet with two USB ports attached.

We see more devices use USB more than ever now, these outlets are a must-have! 

Smart Outlets

These outlets allow more control. You can turn them on and off on a schedule, you can also control them remotely with your phone or through voice assistants. 

Say you wake up in the middle of the night, overheated. Your room fan is out of arm’s reach. With a smart outlet you can use your phone to turn the power of the outlet on and it consequently turns your plugged-in fan on. This is one of many examples of what you can do with a smart outlet. 

Read more on smart devices and home automation here

Recessed Outlets

These useful gadgets help make your space more organized. A recessed outlet sinks deeper into the wall instead of laying flat against it like most outlets. 

What is the benefit of recessed outlets? They stop your cords from protruding out of the wall, that way if you have a piece of furniture such as your tv console bench, you can place it real snug against the wall without squishing your cords. In other words, recessed outlets eliminate that awkward space between the wall and furniture. These are commonly placed behind couches, shelves, and TV consoles

A Little Outdated...

Do you have this outlet in your house? You may want to consider an electrical wiring upgrade if so.

Two pronged 15 Amp, 120 Volt

This outlet is very similar to the outlet we first mentioned (Three pronged 15-Amp, 120 volt). Except it is missing the ground pin hole at the bottom which is very important for safety. For this reason these outlets are becoming obsolete. Consider getting an electrical home inspection and upgrade if your house is outfitted with these types of outlets. 

In Conclusion

There are many different outlets for various situations in the house. When you ensure you have the correct outlets in the correct places you are ensuring safety as well as convenience within your home.

Do you need to upgrade your outlets or electrical wiring? CBS Electrical provides Electrical professional services in Victoria and Nanaimo BC including electrical inspections and upgrades. Give us a call and let’s upgrade your home!

Call Now Button