120v Receptacle Types

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US outlets are not all the same. If you have ever replaced the outlets in your home, you already know this.
Identifying and understanding the different types of outlets is very important because it will affect the types of appliances and plugs you use.

Generally, the US uses Two or Three-prong outlets. They will normally be 15A-120v, 20A-125V, or 20A-250V. These outlets can be switched, tamper-resistant, smart and GFCI/AFCI protected.

  • The Standard Electrical Outlet In US is 110V. People categorize outlets in different ways.
  • For instance, Landmark Home Warranty prefers to place them under two classifications, namely:.
  • Three prong outlets use three prongs. They have a neutral slot, grounded slot, and hot slot.
  • The hot wire connects to the hot slot. It brings the electrical current to the appliance.

The grounded slot connects to the grounded wire. It redirects dangerous currents to the ground. The neutral slot completes the circuit. The two-prong outlet has two prongs: a neutral slot and a grounded slot. Two-prong plugs are somewhat dangerous because they do not use a grounding wire. Your electrician is unlikely to use this categorization. If you ask them to name all the types of electrical outlets in the US, more than likely, they will mention the following:.

15A outlets are common in older homes. Some of them use two prongs. Others have three prongs. 20A outlets are used to operate appliances and devices that have higher power requirements.

  • That includes items that work in the kitchen and laundry room, such as dishwashers and washing machines.

Pros & Cons of American Outlets

You can identify them by the small horizontal slot next to the vertical slot (Grounding).

  • Outlets tend to mirror their circuits. Most homes in the US use either 15A or 20A circuits. 15A circuits are normally paired with the lighting. 20A circuits, on the other hand, work with general-purpose receptacles. You can add 20A outlets to dedicated circuits. These outlets are even more powerful than their 20A 120V counterparts.

4. 20A, 250 Volt Outlets

FAQs About Electrical Outlets

8. Switched Outlets

  • You can use smart outlets to charge a phone using a USB cable.
  • But smart outlets are even more technologically advanced than that. Besides monitoring their power usage, homeowners can use the internet to control their outlets from a distance.
  • You can also schedule the outlets to shut on and off.
  • Have you seen those outlets whose slots are covered with shutters?

6. GFCI Outlets

They are called ‘Tamper-Resistant Receptacles’. They have gained a lot of traction in recent times because they protect children. A child is less likely to push a metal object into the slot of a tamper-resistant outlet. Some adults hate them because they are somewhat complicated to use.

  • In some cases, you have to shake the plug to push it into the outlet.
  • Many homeowners have tried and failed to use tamper-resistant receptacles.
  • But that hasn’t stopped their use from growing because parents appreciate the protection they offer to children.
  • These are not the only outlets in the US.


3. 20A, 125 Volt Outlets

Manufacturers invent new outlets every single day. The market is filled with specialty receptacles that utilize unique safety features and functions. But the categories above are the most important and they will inform your selection the next time you go shopping for outlets.

  • The US first created its 120V power grid. When numerous European nations adopted the 220/240V standard because it was a more efficient distribution system, the US remained loyal to their 120V supply because their power grid was already established.
  • It would take too much time, and too much money, to replace it. The UK had a smaller power grid. Replacing it wasn’t quite as cumbersome. Because the US has a 120V power supply, they use 110/120V outlets.

However, people who think that the US has refused to adopt the 240V standard like their European partners are wrong. American households have 240V lines at the service entrance.

  • But most of the devices that an American home uses do not require 240V, which is why power distributors create split phases, transmitting power on two legs.
  • A home can use either leg to provide 120V current to ordinary appliances using a 120V outlet. But if you have larger hardware that needs more power, you can access the full voltage.
  • 110V and 120V outlets are the same. Richard and Son have pointed out that many people refer to their plugs as either 110V or 120V.

But they have the same capacity. You can use them to run the same appliances.

9. USB Outlets

If you want to know why Americans use 110/120V outlets when their closest ally (The UK) prefers 240V outlets, it is because the US and the UK have different power supply standards. Have you ever stopped to wonder why anyone would use 110/120V outlets? They have several benefits that make the receptacles an attractive addition to your home, for instance:.

Most 120V outlets in the average US home are three-pronged. They have a ground wire that can redirect dangerous currents to the earth if a malfunction occurs. Hunker has also pointed out that modern 120V outlets can accommodate polarized plugs.

12. Weather-Resistant Outlets

120V outlets run on a 110/120V power supply that is safer than 240V. It can still electrocute you but you are less likely to die. 110V power supplies, the kind that 110/120V outlets use, require less insulation. This makes circuits with 110/120V outlets cheaper.

In the US, 120V outlets are easier to access. 120V outlets are not perfect. For all their strengths, they have several weaknesses, including:.