Electricity is a staple in the modern home. Without it, we wouldn’t get the light, heating, cooling, and power for other appliances that we need. However, not all power outlets are equal. Each one serves its own purpose, and it’s important to find outlets that uniquely fit each area of your home. But all the options might overwhelm you… after all, what is a GFCI outlet, for example? Here’s your guide to the different types of electrical outlets for the home.
10 Different Types of Electrical Outlets
These are 10 different types of power outlets commonly in residential settings. Each has its own purpose and area of the home it’s best for. Carefully review this list and keep reading for more details on each of the different types of outlets.
- 15A 120V outlets: commonly found in traditional houses.
- 20A 125V outlets: for more powerful appliances.
- 20A 250V outlets: draw even more power than 20A 125V.
- GFCI outlets: optimal for spaces close to water and moisture.
- AFCI outlets: has safety measures that are great for bedrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.
- Tamper resistant outlets: has safety features should anything other than the correct plug. Great for those with children.
- Weather resistant outlets: prevents corrosion in outdoor settings.
- Switched outlets: ideal for appliances you never unplug.
- USB outlets: Have an additional USB socket for electronics.
- Smart outlets: programmable for ultimate energy savings. Use timers that switch on and off, eliminating the need to remember which switches to flip.
1. 15A 20V Outlets: The Casual Outlet
These types of outlets are common in many homes. You definitely have seen these before, since they are the cheapest and simplest to find on the market.
15A 20V outlets get their name because of their draw and supply. They work with a draw of 15A at the most and a 120VAC (volts alternating current) supply. These are optimal for small electronics and chargers, like computers and phones.
These often come in two-pronged and three-pronged versions. The ground pin on the three-pronged version provides extra stability and protection from shocks.
It’s important to practice electrical safety when it comes to 15A 20V outlets. Only use them for small appliances that do not use a lot of power. If you primarily have these kinds of outlets, you may want to consider upgrading to a safer and/or more energy-efficient outlet in the necessary areas.
2. 20A 125V Outlets: A Little More Power
There are appliances you use in your home that require more power, and 20A 125V outlets are suited for those appliances. Things like microwave ovens, electric stoves, and space heaters are great for these types of outlets. Some building codes encourage you to install these in places like the kitchen.
The 20A 125V outlet looks similar to the 15A outlet, however, there is an additional slot for more power.
3. 20A 250V Outlets: Large Appliances
Alternatively, there are also 20A 250V outlets for even larger appliances that require more power. This is the optimal outlet to use for air conditioners and power tools. These outlets are trickier to install because they require a double-pole circuit breaker. These outlets are best to plan to install if the appliances you will rely on need them.
Some high-powered appliances need more than 20A. There are outlets available with 30-50A. Always check the specifications of your preferred appliances before choosing your high-powered outlet.
4. What is a GFCI Outlet? Safety From Water
You might wonder, what is a GFCI outlet? GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. GFCI outlets are the types of outlets that have “test” and “reset” buttons on them. These are ideal for rooms that typically come into contact with water. This includes the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and laundry room. GFCI outlets have outdoor applications as well.
a GFCI outlet is constantly checking current flow. If they detect a current spike, they trip and shut off. The circuit interrupter steps in to prevent a shock.
5. AFCI Outlets: More Safety Precautions
The AFCI outlet is another type that prevents electrical hazards by monitoring currents and voltage. AFCI stands for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. As the name suggests, these types of outlets look for issues with arcing, which is when electricity skips between connections. Arcing creates heat that increases the risk of shocks and fires. It can happen in situations like an overheating electronic or a chewed/broken wire.
If the circuit interrupter senses arcing, the breaker shuts the outlet off. This outlet is great for use in areas where you may not always notice issues, like in the bedroom where you’re sleeping. It’s also great for rooms where appliances run without you present, like the laundry room.
6. Tamper Resistant Outlets: Keep The Kids Safe
You may not have a choice but to install these types of outlets since many building codes require them for 15 and 20A. A shutter in these blocks objects other than the correct plugs from going in. This prevents the hazard of shocks, keeping curious children safe.
7. Weather Resistant Outlets: The Great Outdoors
A weather-resistant outlet is often built with corrosion-resistant metal and a weather-resistant cover. These outlets offer defense against water, ice, humidity, and debris.
8. Switched Outlets: Prevent Energy Vampires
These types of outlets are great for appliances you keep on consistently and rarely unplug, like lamps or computers. Energy vampires are appliances that continue to use energy while plugged in, even if they are shut off. Switched outlets help to prevent this issue by using an integrated switch to turn on the appliance. These are simple to install since they do not require any extra wiring.
9. USB Outlets: The Charging Station
Many small electronic gadgets use USB ports to charge. USB outlets are a great solution if you use many of these gadgets and want the convenience of being able to charge them anywhere in your home. These outlets often look like traditional outlets with additional USB sockets. You may have seen these types of outlets in airports due to their convenience for phone charging.
10: Smart Outlets: Ultimate Energy Savings
Smart outlets can continuously evaluate power usage for energy efficiency. They can also turn on or off in accordance with how you program or time it. Smart outlets can be useful for devices you wish to run on a timer, such as air conditioners or outdoor sprinklers. This saves energy by eliminating the need to remember to turn things off.
Additionally, many smart outlets have Wi-Fi-enabled remote controls. These may be controlled remotely using your phone or voice assistants.
Ace Your Outlet Installation
We at Energy Shield of New Hampshire do top-tier interior electrical installations. Whether you need an outlet or light fixture installation or service upgrades for your breaker box, no job is too big or small for us. Chat with us today to learn more!