Electrical outlets are standard in most United States homes. Also known as sockets or power outlets, they do as their name suggests and bring electricity into buildings. These electrical outlets allow us to power all our devices daily without thinking much about it. Flipping on the lights, watching television, blending a smoothie, or keeping that cell phone charged all start the same way: with an electrical outlet. 

Standard Electrical Outlets

Electrical outlets come in two standard forms in North and Central America (as well as parts of Europe, Asia, and South America). Type A consists of Two flat parallel pins with a standard voltage of 100-127 volts. Meanwhile, Type B consists of two flat parallel pins with a grounding pin and a standard 100-127 or 220-240 volts. A grounding pin in Type B outlets protects devices that require grounding for safety. Type A plugs can fit into Type B outlets but not the other way around.

Specific Purpose Electrical Outlets

In addition to the standard Type A and Type B plugs, the United States also uses larger and more specialized plug types for higher-powered applications. These include NEMA 6-15R, NEMA 6-20R, NEMA 6-30R, NEMA 6-50R, NEMA 10-30R, NEMA 10-50R, NEMA 14-30R and NEMA 14-50R. 

NEMA 6-15R has two vertical, flat parallel slots and a grounding pin. Its design makes it ideal for a 15-amp, 240-volt circuit. NEMA 6-20R is like the NEMA 6-15R, but the design works best for a 20-amp, 240-volt circuit. You’ll find these electrical outlets primarily in commercial buildings.

NEMA 6-30R has two vertical flat parallel slots and a grounding pin and is best for a 30-amp, 240-volt circuit. NEMA 6-50R works best for a 50-amp, 240-volt circuit. 

NEMA 10-30R is an older design with two vertical flat parallel slots and a grounding pin. You want to use this for a 30-amp, 240-volt circuit. NEMA 10-50R is also an older design made for a 50-amp, 240-volt circuit.

NEMA 14-30R is the best for electric dryers. This outlet has two vertical flat parallel slots and a grounding pin and works well for a 30-amp, 240-volt circuit. Use a NEMA 14-50R for a 50-amp, 240-volt circuit. It’s ideal for RV connections.

Upgrading and Smart Outlets

As more devices use a USB port, electrical outlets now come with built-in USB ports, allowing users to charge USB-powered devices directly. In addition to the functionality of USB ports, you can upgrade your outlets to “Smart Outlets.” These electrical outlets are Wi-Fi-enabled outlets and have a multitude of benefits. They can control the flow of electricity to connected devices to save power or electricity use. They have voice activation, remote usability, scheduling, home monitoring, and comfort security options. Smart electric outlets will also integrate into Smart Home Systems. 

Electrical Outlet Safety

When using and installing anything to do with electricity and electric outlets, exercise caution. Following safety guidelines and regulations is crucial when dealing with electrical outlets. Installation should comply with local electrical codes and regulations. Always consult with a qualified electrician for proper installation and compliance. Who better than JQ, your neighborhood electrician? Give JQ Electric a call today!