Did you know there are many different electrical outlets in your home, or that each serves specific purposes? No worries if your answer is no, as this blog explains what these differences are and what areas of your home are best suited for each outlet option.
15A (Three-Pronged Electrical Outlet)
This is the most standard electrical outlet in homes. It includes two connection slots and a grounding prong which prevents the electrical unit from burning and causing electric shock. Although these outlets are the cheapest and most convenient to install and replace, they also hold the least power. Because of this, it is recommended only to be used for small appliances that do not require high voltage; it’s ideal for lighting devices such as lamps or nightlights.
These outlets are best for appliances that require more power to run as they can hold up to 25% more power than other receptacles. Like the standard three-pronged outlet, the 20A outlet includes an extra horizontal slot next to a connection slot that allows direct insertion for these specific plugs. These outlets are often found where large devices are located, including in the kitchen, laundry room, and garage. Both large and small kitchen appliances such as microwaves, blenders, and even toasters require a 20A outlet to function correctly. Washers, dryers, power tools, and even air compressors are also devices that work best when plugged into a 20A outlet.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are best suited in areas where water is most frequently used, such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements. This outlet can be used for outdoor purposes as well. GFCI outlets monitor the current flow and are designed to detect a hazardous electrical surge from a current leaking in the circuit. If this does occur, the outlet will quickly shut itself off and prevent the current from flowing elsewhere (i.e., your body). These outlets are most beneficial in being near water sources because they can save someone from electric shock by shutting off in case of direct contact with water. GFCI outlets are great for hairdryers!
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlets are used to recognize arcing, when electricity moves between loose connection points and creates a substantial amount of heat that could cause electrical fires. The connection points become loose from overheating appliances or physical damage to wires (e.g., animals chewing or people accidentally piercing power cords). If arcing ensues, the outlet will turn itself off and prohibit a fire from occurring. These outlets are suitable for any area in your home, but especially in bedrooms where you are not always fully alert or awake to be aware of arcing. It is also recommended to use AFCI outlets in areas where appliances are heavily used, such as kitchens and laundry rooms, as they are more susceptible to overheating.
These outlets are recognized as being one of the safest options as they include a built-in barrier that blocks foreign objects from invading and only accepts two or three-pronged cords. If you have a home with children, this is an excellent outlet option to install in their bedrooms and play areas as they will be protected from potential electrical harm. There is no shock hazard, so even if your child does tamper with the outlet, they are unable to get hurt.
For more electrical support, call Lion Electrical at (970) 632-2281. We are here to help with all of your electrical needs!
*Information for this article was gathered from Bob Vila and Handy Kith. Images from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart.