Electrical outlets – also referred to as receptacles, electrical sockets or plug outlets – that are cracked or can no longer hold electrical plugs firmly should be replaced. If not, they could become a hazard. Learn about the various types of outlets available.
Types of Electrical Outlets
Duplex receptacles are the most common electrical outlets you’ll find in your home. Usually, they come in 15-amp or 20-amp varieties. 15-amp outlets are designed to power everyday devices such as alarm clocks and other small electrical items, while larger appliances toasters, refrigerators, irons, hair dryers, etc. – and power tools require 20-amp electrical outlets. 15-amp outlets can be used in either 15-amp or 20-amp circuits, but keep in mind that 20-amp outlets must only be used in 20-amp circuits.
By code, it’s required to install GFCI outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor locations and other areas of the home where water is often exposed. GFCI – or ground-fault circuit interrupter – receptacles, are designed to prevent accidental shock by monitoring the electrical current. If the current is leaking from the circuit or deviates from its intended path, these power outlets will sense the problem and immediately shut down. GFCI outlets come with test and reset buttons, so you can check if your outlet is functioning properly. Be sure to test your GFCI outlet once a month and after any power outage.
Electrical Outlet Safety
To help avert electrical fires in your living room, consider installing AFCI – or arc-fault circuit interrupter – outlets. These electrical receptacles detect arc faults, which happen when there is damage in the circuit wiring. The excessive heat produced from arc faults can ignite materials near the outlet, resulting in an electrical fire. Like GFCI electrical outlets, AFCI outlets shut off immediately when a problem is identified.
For locations such as patios, decks and pool areas, choose outdoor outlets, which are built with UV-stabilized thermoplastic designed to withstand the elements. Make sure to install a weatherproof cover to protect your outlet when not in use.
If you have a host of electronic devices, incorporate USB outlets into your home. The built-in USB ports allow you to charge your devices without taking up a normal power outlet with a bulky adapter.
You should also consider smart wall outlets, which can be controlled directly from your smartphone.
Whether you’re looking to replace or upgrade your outlets, there are a variety of receptacles you can choose from. It’s important to think about where you’ll be installing your new outlet and what types of devices, appliances and other electronics you’ll be powering.