Whether you’re building a new home or renovating one, there are a thousand different decisions you need to make throughout the process. Some of these decisions might feel inconsequential but can add a lot of headaches and frustrations afterward if thought isn’t given to them. One of these decisions is choosing the right electrical receptacles for your home. Since we rely more and more on different devices and connections to these devices for sound, video, and the internet, the right electrical receptacle is an important choice. As these receptacles are going to be used constantly, let’s have a look at a few of the different types and when you’d use them.
Normal and Switched Outlets
The most common of all the electrical switches and sockets, and the bread and butter of outlets, of course, are those that supply power to our normal standard plugs. There’s not much variation in a normal outlet, other than deciding on a single or dual plug design. Pay attention to the maximum amperage these outlets can supply as there is some variation in it, so either choose all high rated outlets or select high rated outlets in areas that are expected to have more appliances connected.
Fused outlets, for all intents and purposes, look and behave just like a normal outlet with one important difference. A fused outlet also has protection against shortages and overcurrent by combining a regular outlet with a fuse. These might come in the form of a replaceable fuse or by using an AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) or GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). Their main purpose is to cut power to any outlet that has a fault that could be potentially dangerous to you or cause an electrical fire. These are best used in bedrooms where plugs are more likely to be removed and plugged in more often, and in kitchens or laundry rooms where the appliances use more electricity.
Tamper Resistant Outlets
Tamper-resistant outlets are perfect for families with young children who like to fiddle with everything they can get their hands on – or fingers in. They create a physical barrier between the external side of the outlet and the live wiring inside by only opening a shutter-like device in the outlet holes when a plug is inserted so only actual plugs can find their way into this outlet and nothing else. This will stop inquiring minds poking things into the outlet holes and potentially causing a fatal accident. Many building codes require that these outlets are used, so check your local laws to make sure.
Outlets with USB
We’re more and more reliant on charging devices with internal batteries, like cellular phones, tablets, and other devices. Many of these devices use USB cables to charge and we’re often carrying these USB charging bricks from room to room with us as we need to charge them. Modern outlets offer us an option with an integrated USB port alongside a normal plug outlet, so that charging these devices means simply plugging the cable straight into the wall outlet and not worrying about a charging brick, making them very convenient to the modern homeowner.
Audio Visual Outlets
A truly modern and integrated home has the potential to make use of full-service audio-visual outlets to really make the most use of the home’s wiring. Instead of using your electrical outlets purely for power, you can integrate connections to run audio, video, and even network cabling to other areas of the house, or simply keep it hidden behind the wall instead of running along the floor or up the wall. These receptacles include modern plug types like HDMI and CAT6 or 7 network ports, as well as provision for power. They’re the modern choice for any living room or man cave you’re adding to your home.
Outlets that add a specialty purpose are also available to you when you’re choosing these receptacles and they’re available in many different varieties. They might simply add a timer that you can set to turn on at specific times only, perfect for lights so you don’t come home to a dark house. They might also include power usage meters or the ability to connect the outlet to your home WiFi network and add the handy function of being able to toggle them on and off via an app. Look for smart outlets that feature WiFi or Zigbee compatibility to enable them to have the most connectivity options.
There’s more choice than you think when it comes to selecting electrical receptacles, and the correct options and positioning are key to minimise the need for extension cords and adapters. Spend some time visualizing where things like your television or your home office might go and make provisions for all these spaces and what they’ll need in the choice of these receptacles.