Thinking of adding a new electrical outlet to your home?
Here’s our 3-step process to make sure you install the right outlet for your home and your needs.
Most electrical outlets in your home should have some sort of built-in safety device. And there are 2 types: GFCI outlets and AFCI outlets. (You can identify these outlets easily as they will have “reset” and “test” buttons on their face.)
But to know if you need one or both of them, you must first know the difference between them.
GFCI outlet on the left with an AFCI outlet on the right. The two electrical outlets look similar but perform different functions.
Where do I need GFCI and AFCI outlets?
According to current electrical code you should have GFCI protection in:
You should have AFCI protection in all bedrooms.
That doesn’t mean every outlet in those locations must be an AFCI or GFCI outlet. Several electrical outlets can be connected to a single AFCI or GFCI outlet for protection.
For example, in your kitchen, you likely have a single GFCI outlet (with a “test” and “reset” button) that serves as the GFCI device for all the other outlets in the kitchen (and maybe even the outside outlets).
For AFCI protection, you can also install an AFCI circuit breaker in your electrical panel.
You may need or want a specialty outlet depending on the type of appliance or electronic device that will be plugged into it. Here are a few examples of types of appliances and electronics that use specialty outlets.
Heavy-duty electrical outlets are needed for some appliances, like:
You’ll need a heavy-duty 240-volt electrical outlet for these appliances. There are both 3-prong and 4-prong varieties. Check your electric cord to make sure you get the right one.
Note: Both of these electrical outlets should be on a dedicated circuit.
Medium-sized appliances and power tools
Some medium-sized appliances and power tools require larger, 20-amp electrical outlets.
These look like a standard, 15-amp outlet except that the neutral slot is horizontal instead of vertical. (See photo below).
The normal, 15-amp outlet on the left and the 20-amp outlet on the right.
Of course, your circuit and wiring must be 20 amps also in order to install this larger outlet (see step 3 for more info).
Smartphones, tablets and other small electronics
You can also get electrical outlets with built-in USB outlets, which come in handy in the kitchen, bedroom, living room or anywhere else you’ll be charging your cell phone or other small electronic devices.
An electrical outlet with built-in USB plugs.
Lastly, before you install an electrical outlet you must make sure that your home can handle the new outlet.
Make sure you know:
George Brazil Plumbing & Electrical is a professional electrical contractor serving metro Phoenix.