Electrical Outlets and Appliances: The Different Types You Should Know
From television to refrigerator, we use different appliances at home. Buying these appliances can be overwhelming. While there are many considerations, in this article, our focus is on the different types of electrical outlets in most homes. Make sure that the plug of the appliance matches the receptacle.
1. 15A, 120V Outlet
If you live in an older home, chances are, this is the type of outlet that you will find. There are two common versions. The more traditional option is a two-pronged outlet. It has two long slots, which will provide an ungrounded connection. On the other hand, there is also a newer alternative, which is a three-pronged outlet. It has a ground pin and two vertical slots. This will minimize the possibility of an electric shock, which can result from having a loose wire.
One of the reasons for the popularity of this outlet is its price. It is the cheapest and it also offers ease of upgrade if you want it replaced in the future. However, this is far from being the most advanced, and hence, safety can be an issue.
Choose this if you are running light-duty appliances that require minimum amperage and voltage.
2. 20A, 120V Outlet
For a larger power draw, this is what we recommend. According to building codes, this is the recommended receptacle for appliances like kitchen gadgets. You cannot plug this into a 15-amp receptacle since the power requirement does not match, and hence, the connected appliance will not function as expected.
The main difference of a 20-amp outlet from a 15-amp outlet is the presence of a horizontal slot along with the vertical slot. This is like a T-shaped slot but facing sideways. Other than this, there is also a slot for the neutral and ground pin.This is what we recommend if you are running power-hungry appliances. Compared to a 15-amp outlet, it has a load capacity that is up to 25% higher.
3. 20A, 250V Outlet
This is the best option if you are running shop equipment, such as power tools. From cordless drills to power saws, you need an outlet with a high voltage to meet the tool’s power needs. This is also true when it comes to air conditioning units.
One of the main characteristics of this outlet is that there is a double-pole circuit brealed. A part of the main panel, this is best installed only by a qualified electrician. This isn’t a DIY task. Some big appliances can have as high as 50-amp requirements, so we suggest that you consult with an expert.
4. GFCI Outlet
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. This is a special receptacle needed for appliances used near places where there is potential contact with water, such as kitchens and bathrooms. It protects against electric shock, which commonly happens in places where water and electricity are in contact.
The best way to identify this outlet is through the presence of the test and reset buttons. It has an automated function that allows it to deliver an automatic functionality and is capable of detecting the presence of water and it instantly controls the power output also shuts down itself in case of a potential problem, which protects your appliances. After turning off on its own, push the reset button and it will work again. Also, do not forget to push the test button every now and then, which is a good way to test if the plug is working.
5. AFCI Outlet
AFCI stands for arc fault circuit interrupter. It is not as popular as GFCI, but the concept is pretty much the same. It protects against arcs. This is an occurrence where electricity is jumping from arc to arc, resulting in a fire. If your house has been built after 1999, chances are, you will have this electrical outlet in your circuit breaker box. It can be installed in different areas of your home by adding a circuit breaker in the main panel.
6. Switched Outlet
As the name implies, this is basically an outlet with a built-in switch. This will provide you with complete control on the power generated by the outlet. You can switch it on or off as you please. This is a great option if you hate plugging and unplugging an appliance, but you do not want it on all the time. This can also be used for supplying power to an extension cord.
7. USB Outlet
It is a must-have in many modern homes. While it does not run appliances, it is designed to power electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, among other small devices. This way, you can connect your gadget directly to the plug. There is no need for the traditional adapter that you will find in a charger. There are different types of USB outlets, and you have to decide based on what you will be connecting to the plug.
In sum, being aware of electrical outlets and appliances is important to ensure meeting the right power requirements while also staying safe and sound. Next time to buy an appliance, make sure that it matches with the outlets that you currently have at home. Otherwise, work with a licensed electrician to help you out.
(we have written a guide for choosing the best dual fuel generators)