If you’re looking to upgrade or replace outlets in your home, you may be surprised to find that there are several different types of electrical outlets available. But, don’t let the options overwhelm you! Each type of electrical outlet has its own special use case to improve safety & convenience in our homes.
GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Outlets
GFCI outlets are the best choice for wet or damp areas like bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and even outdoors. You can tell if an outlet is a GFCI outlet by identifying its “TEST” and “RESET” buttons. The interrupter circuit’s job is to detect unusual spikes or changes in electrical current and shut off the flow of power immediately. Since spikes can be caused by contact with water, GFCI outlets can prevent dangerous electrical shock hazards by cutting off the electrical flow at the first sign of power surge.
AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) Outlets
AFCI outlets are designed to detect arcing within an electrical system and shut off power to prevent electrical fire hazards. Damage to wiring can cause arcing, which is what happens when electricity attempts to jump between points of loose connections. Arcing causes extreme heat and poses a risk of electrical fire. AFCI outlets are ideal for vulnerable areas like bedrooms and nurseries where people may not notice the signs of arcing because they’re sleeping.
15A, 120 Volt Outlets
120-volt outlets come in two-pronged and three-pronged versions. These outlets are the common, everyday outlets that you’ll find in most homes. Many people choose to upgrade their basic, older 120-volt outlets to newer, safer outlets on the market. Tamper-Resistant outlets and outlets with smart capability are quickly replacing basic 120-volt outlets in newer homes. Your 120-volt outlets can also be replaced by AFCI outlets to prevent electrical fires in sleeping areas like bedrooms and nurseries, which we discussed above.
20A, 125 Volt Outlets
Appliances that are on the larger side, like refrigerators and laundry machines, may require a 125-volt outlet. The proper outlets for appliances are usually recommended by your building code, so be sure to check. You can identify a 125-volt outlet by the sideways T-shaped pin on the left side of the outlet. It almost resembles a winking face.
250 Volt Outlets
250-volt outlets are required for large appliances that draw a lot of power like air conditioning units and ovens. Before installing a 250-volt outlet, your electrician may have to install a double-pole circuit breaker in your main electrical panel and ensure the proper wiring is in place to support a 250-volt outlet. These outlets can vary in appearance, but usually look distinctly different and larger than other outlets in the home. They can have three or four prongs. If you want to see one for yourself, you’ll probably find one where your oven is plugged in.
We hope this outlet guide cleared up some questions you had about the types of electrical outlets in your home. If these outlets aren’t packing the amount of power you need, there are even higher voltage outlets available. Just ask a qualified electrician!
Air & Energy is a family-owned and operated company providing air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and generator services to residents in Manatee County, FL for over 39 years.
(941) 778-0773 | Schedule an Appointment