If you’re considering making changes to your electrical wiring at home, you need to get acquainted with the different types of electrical outlets and switches. Here’s a quick rundown:
Types of electrical outlets in your home
- GFCI outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are designed to quickly turn off the flow of electrical power to an outlet when it detects a ground fault or short circuit. GFCI outlets are required in locations like bathrooms and kitchens. They are usually more expensive than non-GFCI outlets.
- AFCI outlets
Arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) outlets protect your home wiring system from arcs. Arcs can happen when there are loose electrical connections and typically occur when electricity “jumps” from wire to wire. This can result in a fire.
- Switched outlets
A switched outlet is made up of an outlet and a switch that lets you turn the power from the outlet on and off whenever you want. This is particularly useful when you have something that’s frequently or constantly plugged into an outlet and don’t want to plug and unplug it with every use.
- 20A outlets
20A outlets are able to support more load than other types of outlets. These are typically used when you need to plug in power-hungry appliances or devices without the circuit breaker tripping.
Types of electrical switches in your home
- Single-pole switch
This is the most common type of electrical switches. It is used to control lights and appliances from a single location.
- Double-pole switch
This is common in industrial settings. Unlike the single-pole switch, which has two hot brass terminals, this one has four, and a ground terminal.
- Three-way switch
This type of switch is used in pairs and lets you turn a light or receptacle on and off from two different spots, like the top and bottom of a staircase or the two ends of a hallway.
- Four-way switch
This switch lets you control a light or outlet from three or more different spots. It is usually found in very large rooms and very long hallways.