Most of our daily tasks involve electricity and it is one of the things we give less thoughts of. Electricity is an essential part of every system in your household.

Understanding how it operates is key to properly handle any issue in the future. In this post, we will take a closer look on how a basic electrical outlet works. This article will also walk you through the different types of electrical outlets you may have in your home.

What is an electric outlet and how does it work?

An electric outlet is where you plug in all your appliances at home. It is nearly impossible for anyone to have never used one before. But how does it work? What happens behind the walls?

The outlet is connected to electrical wirings traveling from an electrical panel. Basically there are two wires: the hot wire (typically blue or black in color) and the neutral wire (typically white in color).

The hot wire carries electricity from the panel to the outlet and the neutral wire the other way around. Sometimes, an additional wire which is the grounding wire (typically green in color) serves as short circuit prevention.

What are the most common electrical outlet types in the US?

 Two-Prong Outlets

These are commonly seen in older homes. These two-wired outlets which are rated at 15 amperes, 125 volts are used solely for ungrounded circuits. This type of outlet is now becoming obsolete due to safety and code requirements.

 Three-Prong Outlets

This type of outlet as the name suggests has three holes—the third one for grounding. It is commonly found in newer homes as grounding is required. A grounding line is needed to protect the connected appliances from surges. It is
also a safety measure to prevent potential harm to people.

 GFCI Outlets

These GFCI outlets or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets are found mostly in areas that could potentially be reached by water. These outlets prevent electrical current from leaking. GFCI outlets monitor flow, cutting off power to equipment if current leaks reach a hazardous level. They come with “TEST” and “RESET” buttons so it is easy to identify one.

If you are wondering if your electrical system is protected, send us a message or give us a call at 520-803-318!