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How To Choose The Right Electrical Outlet: Full Buyers Guide

A hand plugging a green plug into a white outlet on a white wall.

Wall sockets are an absolute necessity in any home. You may make well-informed judgments for every room in your house if you check this guide. Before you go shopping, check your local electrical codes to discover what kind of outlets are permitted in your home.

When choosing a power outlet, you must consider what it is you are looking for and where you want to use it. Once you know what you need and where you want to use it, you can choose from many different outlets that fit your needs perfectly.

Choosing and installing the proper electrical outlet for a given space reduces the risk of electrical shock and improves energy efficiency in the home. So please continue reading to find out which outlets to use and where they work best.

What Is The Correct Amperage For A Electrical Outlet?

Amperage (amps) is the amount of current that a device can use. The gauge of a wire determines the amperage of a circuit. An outlet’s amperage rating can range from 15 to 60 amps.

Most homes have 15-amp outlets installed in areas where lower consumption is expected, such as bedrooms and living rooms. On the other hand, 20-amp outlets are frequently installed in high-use areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Keep in mind that 20-amp outlets look different than 15-amp outlets because they have a “T” slot that accepts 20-amp plug blades. You can install 15-amp outlets on 20-amp circuits, but not 20-amp outlets on 15-amp circuits. If unsure, check the breaker in your panel for the circuit you are working on. The amperage of the circuit will be labeled on the breaker.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

What Is A Single Outlet?

A typical outlet has only one receptacle. Depending on the model, electrical outlets might be:

  • tamper-resistant (TR)
  • weather-resistant (WR)
  • a combination of both

Because each outlet can be used separately or in conjunction with others on the same branch circuit, they are suitable in both commercial and residential contexts. A single electrical socket can be used to connect a 120V appliance such as a power tool or a 220V device such as an air conditioner.

Night Light Outlets

Some outlets include a built-in LED night light, like this one on Amazon, that makes it easy to navigate poorly lit rooms and passageways. Furthermore, many of these combo outlets have a photocell that activates the light when it detects darkness, making them better than typical night lights that must get plugged in each night.

Furthermore, because the LED bulb does not require an electrical socket, you can utilize that outlet for something else. These LED plug-in lights are:

  • energy efficient
  • require little maintenance
  • can last for years

Tamper-Resistant Outlets

Tamper-resistant outlets are strongly recommended for homes with small children to prevent unintended power disconnections and are a good value on Amazon. These outlets’ sliding shutter design prohibits access unless both slots are pressed simultaneously. The outlet cannot be accidentally opened with this safety feature.

This means that an appliance plug can be plugged into the outlet, but if a child tries to insert something else, the outlet will not open, preventing the child from being harmed.

Weather-Resistant Outlets

Weather-resistant outlet construction (sold on Amazon) differs from indoor outlet construction in that it must be able to survive prolonged exposure to the elements.

An outdoor outlet with a door and a black plug in it.
Weather-resistant outlets are made for exposure to elements

In addition, they can withstand severe weather conditions thanks to their:

  • UV-stabilized materials
  • corrosion-resistant screws
  • corrosion-resistant mounting straps

What Are GFCI Outlets?

A GFCI outlet, (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), is designed to break the circuit whenever the outgoing and incoming currents are imbalanced. A GFCI electrical outlet is easily found on Amazon and can prevent potentially fatal shocks and burns by preventing electrical wires from overheating.

It protects against short circuits and overload in addition to detecting ground faults and interrupting current flow; however, it should not be used in place of a fuse. A GFCI is installed into the wall outlet, constantly monitoring the current in the circuit to detect any changes.

A built-in sensor in a GFCI outlet detects and interrupts the electrical current flow, protecting users from shocks and electrocutions.

For example, touching an appliance with a metallic surface can cause a shock if a live wire inside the device makes contact with the surface. However, if you plug it into a GFCI outlet, it will cut power immediately if it detects a disruption in the electrical current, such as a faulty wire.

NOTE: This outlet has three holes: two on each side for the neutral and hot wires and one in the center for the ground.

To learn more about if GFCI outlets are required to be tamper resistant, read this article I wrote for everything you need to know.

What Are ADCI Outlets?

Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) shut off power in the event of an electrical arc, protecting you from the dangers of electricity. For example, the point where an appliance is plugged into an outlet is susceptible to damage from:

  • rodents
  • nails
  • overheating

This arcing can be detected by AFCIs (Amazon link), which will shut off the outlets to prevent any harm.

The purpose of an AFCI is to prevent fires that are started by electrical arc faults. The sensitivity of the AFCIs helps detect arc faults; however, these breakers can also indicate false positives by misidentifying normal circuit behaviors as arc faults.

That occurs when an arc fault is detected when the circuit’s behavior is not abnormal. For instance, lightning strikes produce voltage and current profiles similar to those of arc faults, and vacuum cleaners and certain laser printers trigger arc fault current interrupters (AFCIs). The AFCIs’ overall effectiveness is diminished due to these nuisance trips.

NOTE: AFCIs are not plug-in devices like GFCIs but dedicated breakers installed in a building’s main electrical panel.

What Is A Switched Outlet?

You can connect two gadgets to most of the outlets in your home because they are duplexes. One prong of a duplex outlet is always “hot” and ready to supply power, while the other can be turned on and off using a standard wall switch. This type of outlet is known as a “half-hot” or “switched” outlet.

Although a single wall switch can activate both halves of a duplex outlet, only one of the two plug-ins is switched, leaving the other half of the outlet always live. This type of plug is widely utilized in today’s building practices.

For example, using the corresponding wall switch, you can turn a lamp plugged into the switched side on and off.

What Are Smart Outlets?

Modern, cutting-edge smart outlets like this one sold on Amazon, include built-in devices that monitor the quantity of electricity consumed.

In addition, they can be turned on and off based on a predefined program or plan. Smart outlets may be helpful if you have appliances or equipment that you need to switch on and off at specified times, such as drip coffee makers or lawn sprinklers.

They can also help prevent electricity leaks and increase a home’s energy efficiency. Most smart outlets’ remote control features use these protocols:

  • Wi-Fi
  • Zigbee
  • Zwave

You may operate and monitor these remotely using your phone or voice assistants on your preferred devices such as Amazon’s Echo or Google Home.

A phone plugged into a usb outlet.
A USB outlet gives freedom from bulky adapters

What Are USB Outlets?

A USB outlet is an electrical socket with one or two USB ports and two standard outlets and is easily purchased on Amazon. USB outlets charge your electrical equipment without the cumbersome adapters that come with them. You will enjoy the freedom from the bulky adapters next to your nightstand or kitchen counter.

For maximum performance, always use manufacturer-approved cords and chargers with your USB port, and have a professional install the outlet. A standard two- or three-prong electrical socket can be utilized to charge your equipment.

Universal Power Outlets

“Universal” or “multi-standard” sockets are designed to accept a variety of plugs. They contravene socket safety rules in some jurisdictions.

Safety advocates, the United States Army, and a socket manufacturer all point to a number of safety hazards with universal sockets and adapters, such as:

  • voltage mismatch
  • live pin exposure
  • lack of correct earth-ground connection
  • lack of protection from overload or short circuits

Since universal sockets fall beyond the scope of national and international technical standards, they may not exceed technical standards for:

  • durability
  • plug retention force
  • component temperature rise
  • other performance requirements

Popup Sockets For The Kitchens

The kitchen counter stays clean and clutter-free when a pop-up plug is installed on the surface. These pop-up sockets have multiple plugs and are entirely out of sight and mind, flush with the counter surface. Most of the time, their design is water resistant.

Pop-up power docking installation is more involved and should be planned for in advance. When a pop-up power socket is positioned toward the rear of a counter, it can interfere with the storage space below. Therefore ensure adequate space below the counter to prevent interference with the pop-up function.

An outlet with many white plugs in it.
Choose the right outlet for your specific needs


Every room in your house must have at least a few electrical outlets. If you apply this guide, you’ll be able to make informed decisions for every room in your home. Before shopping, determine what types of electrical outlets are permitted in your area.

Before making a purchase, you should know what you’re looking for and where you intend to use the outlet. A wide range of outlets will be available for your consideration once you have determined your individual needs and the planned area for its use.

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