Electricity isn’t the future like it was 100 years ago. Electricity is the present, powering everything we home and has become what we rely on in our everyday life. It has become so important to us, that it holds lives in its hands.
So it’s important to always keep all electrical appliances and electrical outlets up to date. Today, we will go over a guide that will let you get started with learning all you can about electrical outlets in your home.
What Is A Wall Outlet?
A wall outlet allows the appliances in your home to connect to the electrical grid via the sockets that you install in your wall. Most outlets have three prongs and two plug-ins per outlet, which is what you likely have in your home.
All modern homes have, and need, wall outlets to function in our society. Only those who move off the grid or are disconnected from society are without them. Otherwise, it is quite difficult to live a normal life.
That’s why learning about wall outlets and the safety concerns that may occur is important. The more you know, the safer and more energy-efficient your house will be. That’s always a good thing!
How Does An Electrical Outlet Work?
An outlet usually has three holes. The first hole is called “neutral”. The second hole is called “hot”. The third hole is called the ground hole. The hot one is connected to the wire that supplies the electrical current.
Then the neutral hole is connected to the wire that brings the electrical current back to the breaker box. These are the only two holes needed for an electrical outlet to work. The final one is the ground hole.
The ground hole is put in for safety reasons to prevent electrical shocks and shorts. It takes the electrical currents into the ground to neutralize them instead of sending them into the object that is unintentionally inserted into the outlet.
Electrical Outlet Types: Voltage
You can’t usually tell the voltage of an electrical outlet by the way that it looks. The voltage matters more than most aspects though as you need enough to power your appliances but not so much that you waste electricity.
In general, American plugs have the lowest voltage for the common plug and outlet, while other countries will have more power. There are pros and cons to both methods. Let’s take a look at voltage options.
This is the cheapest and most common type of outlet in homes. This is often referred to as 110 volt as well as 15 amperage outlets. It is generally all that is needed for small appliances and most rooms in the house.
This is also the voltage you’ll see in many bathrooms and RVs as the appliances will be quite small. Any smaller than this and you won’t get enough power for anything but charging a phone quite slowly.
These electrical outlets can power larger appliances and is a step up from 120v. This type of outlet can work for almost any room with only the largest of appliances needing something stronger than 125 volts.
Although 125 will power most items in your house, you probably won’t be able to get by without adding quite a bit stronger voltage outlet. So this is a great outlet for most rooms, but won’t work everywhere.
You may notice a large jump here and that’s because there is a large jump in the voltage needed for different appliances. Things like toasters need 125 volts while a fridge or AC will need 250-volt outlets.
Installing 250-volt outlets is different than installing a standard outlet. So make sure an electrician installs them for you to ensure your family’s safety and the appropriate use of the outlet for your appliances.
Types Of Outlets: Alternatives
These types of outlets aren’t based on voltage but rather on the way that they work and how to plug stuff into them. Some are older alternatives while others are rare, new alternatives that will be more common one day soon.
Have you ever seen an outlet with a “reset” and “test” button? Well, these are often found in bathrooms are made to be used in areas with water. They have the ability to cut power to them in case of an emergency.
Two-pronged outlets aren’t sold anymore in most cases. That’s because they lack the anchor on the bottom that prevents electrical shocks. Two-pronged outlets are actually more dangerous than three-pronged.
Did you know that one of the main reason lights are on switches is that they are turned on and off every day? Otherwise, they’d plug in like lamps. You can set any appliance up this way if you want them to be plugged in all the time.
This may be the future of outlets. There are outlets that work as USB outlets and even those that have an ethernet cord that runs through them. You can use USB outlets to charge or power anything that uses USB cords.
Smart outlets are controlled by an app on your phone and are usually able to be set on timers to turn on and off. They often detect emergencies and have a lot of different settings controlled by your phone.
Electrical Plug Types
Electrical plug types are different than electrical outlet types. While the electrical outlet is the jack, the electrical plug is what goes into the jack. The type of electrical plug varies by country according to World Standards.
While you may only see one or two types of electrical plugs in your lifetime, there are actually quite a few. Here is the majority of plugs sorted by the letter that represents them.
- Type A – this is the standard two-pronged plug from North America. It works with the standard outlets in North America as well and is generally 100-127 volt.
- Type B – this is the other type of American and Mexican plug. It has the two flat prongs on top but includes an extra grounded prong, giving in three prongs, the lower one being rounded. It is also 100 – 127 volt.
- Type C – this plug is common in Europe, South America, and Asia. It is the most common type of plug used internationally, is usually 220 – 240 V, and is insulated with two prongs.
- Type D – this is an Indian plug that is 220 – 240 volt in most cases. It has three round prongs with each prong being a different size so you know where to plug it in.
- Type E – this plug is used in France, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, and Czechia. It has two rounded prongs and one very short ground prong that is located on the outlet.
- Type F – this plug is very similar to the Type E plug and it is used all over Europe. It doesn’t have the traditionally grounded prong but has two grounding tabs on top and bottom.
- Type G – this plug is used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Arabian Peninsula. It can be grounded or not grounded depending on whether the top prong is plastic or metal.
- Type H – this Israliean plug is used only in certain areas in Israel. They are 220 – 240 volt and have three close-together round prongs.
- Type I – another plug used in Australia, New Zealand, China, and Argentina, this plug has two slanged prongs and one round prong.
- Type J – this plug is primarily used only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It looks similar to the Type H plug but the top prongs are further apart.
- Type K – this type of plug looks like the Type H plug as well but the bottom grounding prong has a flat top rather than round. It is found in Denmark and Greenland.
- Type L – this plug is used in Italy and Chile. It is around 230 volt like most international plugs but it looks very different. This plug has three round prongs all in a row vertically.
- Type M – this South African plug has three rounded prongs with the top prong being larger than the other two. The plugs are usually shaped around the prongs.
- Type N – used in Brazil and South Africa, this type of plug comes in a lot of different power levels. You can find them anywhere from 100 volts to over 200 volts.
- Type O – this type of plug has three rounded prongs quite close together. It is hard to find this exact plug anywhere else except for in Thailand.
What Electrical Plug Do I Need?
Getting the right type of plug and outlet for your country is necessary. Check with local stores to find out which types of plugs the accessories and appliances have. You can generally follow the letter coding system.
However, there may be international items at the stores that need different plugs. In these cases, you’ll need to install the respective plug-in in your house but you should primarily focus on those used for large appliances.
If you’re not completely sure what you need, ask an electrician to come out and take a look. You may be able to do the work yourself but it’s important to contact them regarding any safety issues that may come up.