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Electrical Outlet Breakdown

The average home contains 75 electrical outlets of different shapes, sizes, and functionalities.  Are the outlets that line your walls the correct ones for your home?  In this post, we are going to examine the most common outlet types in your home by pointing out the benefits and features of each outlet style.  Additionally, we will introduce you to some modern home outlet options that help keep your devices charged and ready to go.

Common American Outlet Types

The Fossil: 2-Prong Outlets

This type of outlet was the standard many years ago.  2-Prong outlets are 15 amp, 125 volt, 2-wired outlets which are commonly seen in older houses.  Since this outlet can only be used for ungrounded circuits, it is quickly becoming obsolete due to safety regulations and code limitations.

The Veteran: 3-Prong Outlets

When you think of an electrical outlet, chances are you are thinking about a 3-Prong, 15 amp, 125 volt outlet.  This outlet type is one of the most common home outlet styles currently available.  Easily recognized by its pair of long, vertical slots positioned above an upside down, u-shaped opening used for grounding the electrical current.  This important safety feature helps to prevent the risk of electrical shock in the event of loose wiring.

The Best of Both Worlds: Switch & Outlet Combination

This combination outlet offers two desirable features in one device.  Whether you are looking to install a new outlet device in your children’s rooms for safety, in the hallways of your home for nightlights, or on the kitchen counter for your appliances, the switch and outlet combo can give you that extra switch or outlet without any additional wiring.

The Safety King: GFCI Outlets

GFCI stands for “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.”  This outlet is named after its core feature, which is interrupting the circuit if there is a spike or leak in the current flow.  Current regulations mandate the use of GFCI outlets in areas that are close to running water.  You might have noticed some of these “GFCI Protected Outlets” in your restrooms, laundry room, kitchen, basement, and even outdoor living spaces.  GFCI outlets carefully monitor the flow of electricity, and when they detect that the current is flowing through an unintended path, the GFCI outlets will immediately shut off the electric power circuit.

These outlets can be identified by the presence of two small buttons in the center of the outlet labeled “TEST” and “RESET,” each being a different color.

The Mammoth: 20 Amp, 125 Volt Outlets

This outlet is reserved for the heavy-duty appliances and devices in your home.  While these outlets resemble the normal, 15 amp outlets, they are only intended for high current devices like your large kitchen appliances.  Too similar to the 15 amp outlet for you to keep them apart in your mind?  Remember that these 20 amp outlets have a horizontal slot attached to the upper left vertical opening of the outlet, while the smaller, 15 amp outlets do not.

The Craftsman’s Aide: 20 Amp, 250 Volt Outlets

Recognized by its unique design, the odd shape of these outlets is designed for specific types of equipment commonly found in a hobby shop.  For example, an air compressor would use this outlet type.

Newer Types of Outlets

Whether you are looking to update your outlets for a modern look, or if you need a little more functionality out of your space, there are plenty of wonderful upgrade options that will fit your style and budget.

USB Outlets

With cell phones, tablets, laptops, and more mobile devices taking up your outlet space, doesn’t it make sense to add some dedicated USB outlets to your home?  USB outlets are a simple and functional way to ensure that everyone in your home always has a fully charged device.

Recessed Outlets

If all those gaps between your walls and furniture are bothering you, you do not have to stick with your standard outlets.  Recessed outlets add space to your home by eliminating the wasted space reserved for bulky cords and wires between walls and furniture.

Tamper Resistant Receptacles

These specialized safety outlets are characterized by a barrier that is intended to prevent children from inserting any foreign objects into the outlet.  These outlets are quickly becoming the new normal, as they are currently required by code in new homes.

Built-In LED Night Light Outlets

Plug-in night lights are fragile and could potentially harm a small child.  Keep those little fingers safe with a night light that is built-in to your electrical outlet.

If you would like to learn more about electrical outlets, or if you would like to speak with someone about upgrading the electrical outlets in your home, call The WireNut today!

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