Electrical receptacles, or electrical outlets, give life to all of your appliances. Utilizing the right type of outlet for your appliance and its location is important in safeguarding your appliances, and most importantly, your family. Specialty outlets can help you accomplish this by connecting your electrical system to your electrical devices properly.
My home has lots of outlets, what makes some “special”?
Standard duplex style receptacles are the most common type of outlet found in your home. Standard duplex receptacles contain outlets for two plugs (hence the word “duplex”), and are typically 15 amp. Specialty outlets typically offer enhanced functions of some kind beyond the standard duplex outlet, such as a child proof receptacle or a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet.
For areas of your home where you have multiple items in need of power, 2 duplex outlets, also known as quad receptacles or double duplex receptacles, offer you four outlets rather than the standard two. This allows for additional access to outlets without the use of cumbersome multi-plug extensions or power bars.
If you have recently installed a new oven or clothes dryer and are wondering why the plug that came with it appears excessively large, and perhaps is supposed to be used in Europe, you are most likely in need of a 240 volt outlet installation.
GFCI outlets are used in areas like the kitchen, bathroom or garage where the risk of electrical shock is greater. They can be identified by the “test” and “reset” buttons located on the receptacle. These outlets help protect you from electrical hazards by monitoring the amount of electricity flowing in a circuit and tripping the circuit if an imbalance is detected. Once detected, the outlet stops the flow of electricity.
Simply put, floor outlets, also called floor boxes, are outlets installed into the floor of your home or office rather than into the wall. Typically these outlets have a protective cover to keep them safe when not in use. Floor boxes allow easy access to electricity in areas where it is strategically impossible to reach a wall-mounted power source without turning to the dreaded extension cord. Floor boxes can be positioned exactly where they are needed and covered when not in use, allowing the floor to retain a smooth surface.
Rotating outlets install in a standard electrical box and are the same dimensions as standard receptacles. Unlike standard receptacles, however, the two outlets on a rotating outlet have the ability to spin 360 degrees. Once plugs are inserted, outlets hold in position, offering maximum versatility. Each receptacle rotates 360 degrees, offering the ability to accommodate two large plugs. These are inexpensive, costing less than power strips and not much more than standard outlets.
Duplex Wall Outlets
Duplex outlets offer functionality. You can do several different things with a duplex wall outlet. They can be installed and used in the typical manner, with both outlets connected together. They can also be conveniently wired to be powered by separate breakers, with one socket controlled by a wall switch.
Limitations of Duplex Outlets
Not all appliances are compatible with standard duplex receptacles. Specialty outlets may be required for the increased electrical needs of items such as microwaves, refrigerators, garbage disposals, and more. These outlets are also not to code for bathrooms and outside use, where GFCI outlets are required. Make certain you use the correct type of outlet for each appliance for their longevity, and to ensure the safety of your family.
Unlike standard outlets which leave plugs dangling from the receptacle, recessed outlets are set deeper into the wall, preventing plugs from extending beyond the surface.
Combination Switch Outlets
Combination switch outlets contain both a switch, such as you would use for a light, and an outlet to plug in devices. There are many different variations of combination switch outlets. The top half typically houses the switch, and the bottom half typically houses the outlet. This combination is the size of a standard electrical box or wall switch, however other larger variations are available.
Tamper Resistant Outlets
Outdoor Receptacles and Soffit Receptacles
Many household appliances need specialty outlets:
- Ovens: These typically require a special cord and outlet, with a dedicated 50 amp, 240 circuit.
- Microwaves: These have gotten larger, drawing more wattage, and typically require a dedicated 20 amp, 120 volt circuit.
- Refrigerators: These have grown larger and larger over the years and now require a dedicated 20 amp, 120 volt circuit.
- Garbage Disposals: These also require a 20 amp, 120 volt circuit.
- Dryers: These also require a special cord and outlet. It is recommended to use 4 prong, 240 volt receptacle with clothes dryers for safety.
- Various Specialty Appliances: Ice makers, beer fridges, pizza ovens are just a few examples.
Safety issues and code regulations:
Electrical codes exist to protect you and your family from fires and electrical shock. Electrical outlets are involved in 5,300 fires annually - don’t wait until you smell smoke to address issues! Inspect outlets in your home and verify if they are deteriorated, up to code, or if specialty outlets are required.
- Bathrooms: All bathroom outlets should be GFCIs.
- Kitchen: Ranges, cooktops, and ovens should be wired to a dedicated 240 volt circuit.
- Living, dining and bed rooms: Receptacles should be no further than 12 feet apart.
- Laundry: The washer and dryer should have its own 20 amp receptacle. Electric dryers require a 240 volt, dedicated circuit.
- Outside: All outdoor outlets should be GFCI outlets, or connected to a GFCI breaker.
There are many advantages to specialty outlets:
Using the right kind of outlets protects you and your family from fire and electrocution.
Easily access electricity when you need it. Add additional outlets for convenient access to electricity in your bathroom, kitchen, garage, or basement.
Avoid tripping over extension cords by having adequate outlet access.
Make hanging holiday lights a snap!
Avoid the endless tangle of extension cords to run your power tools and lawn equipment.
Ensure the safety of your home and family, have your outlets inspected by a professional at Mr. Electric® to verify they are safe and functional. Mr. Electric can update any outlet in your home or business with the specialty outlets that meet your needs!