Don’t be confused about the differences between a receptacle and a plug. This article reviews the common receptacle, the types available and their uses. No more scratching your head in the hardware store trying to decide whether you need to buy a plug or a receptacle!
What You Need to Know When Purchasing Electrical Materials
When purchasing materials for your home wiring project, there are some key facts that you must know in order to ensure that you are purchasing the correct items – things like proper size (generally wattage, amps, volts, wire size, type, etc.), using the proper terminology, differences between manufacture types, and more. Knowing this information upfront will save both yourself and the home improvement store clerks some time and frustration.
Sandy and I are very familiar with this topic, as we are the ones that have to ask the pertinent questions when people come in to our lighting and electrical supply store looking to purchase their electrical materials.
I wish that I had a nickel for every question I’ve heard asked of the store clerk, or have answered myself while shopping for material either at the local hardware store, or in the electrical aisle of the home improvement box stores. More often than not, the customer either pulls out a cell phone to try and get the proper information, or leaves the store to return home to gather more information.
Sound familiar? If so, you should find this series very useful.
We’ll start with a standard duty receptacle in your home. Not a lot to know here, however a great place to start. Here’s the basics:
It’s NOT a Plug – it’s a Receptacle!
Normal utility grade outlets for household use are a 125V 15A straight blade receptacle (NOT a plug!) Many people refer to a receptacle as a plug. A plug is a male cord end that you insert into a receptacle. The NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers’ Association) configuration and designation is a NEMA 5-15.
What style of receptacle do you need?
The most common is a standard style duplex receptacle (Figure 1). The other likely choice would be Decora, or decorator style (Figure 2). These are the rectangular shaped receptacles that use the same cover plate as the switches in the same style.
Figure 1: Standard 15A Duplex Receptacle
Figure 2: Decorator (Decora) Style 15A Duplex Receptacle
What color do you need?
The most common in older homes is ivory. Within the past several years, white has taken over as the standard. However, most manufacturers are expanding the number of different colors available, and you can get light almond (very close to ivory), brown, black, blue, and red, just to name a few.
If you are replacing several outlets, this may be a good time to consider upgrading all of the outlets, or one room at a time, especially if this is a part of a redecorating or renovation project!
What price should ...