From turning on your lamps and running the microwave to switching on the TV, we perform many regular tasks where we hardly consider the activity going on within the walls of the home that makes those devices work. Knowing about your home’s electrical outlets is essential for performing certain tasks at home. This article addresses how electrical outlets work and details about the different types of outlets in the house.
How the electrical outlet works
For electricity to function, circuit creation is necessary. An electrical outlet supplies the electrical power that powers many of the appliances in your home, and that is the method of creating a circuit in your home. The electrical outlet works with this protocol. The process starts with the delivery of electricity into the house by the power plant and power lines. The power is delivered and distributed in the home by a circuit breaker. The circuit breaker connects to every outlet available through wiring.
The outlet typically has three holes. The first hole on the left is the “neutral.” The second hole on the right is called “hot.” The third hole, usually on the bottom, is the “ground.” The hot hole links to the wire supplying the electrical current. The neutral hole links to the wire that returns the electrical current to the breaker box.
When you flip the lamp switch on, the hot part of the current enables the flow of electricity into the lamp, turning on the light bulb. The circuit completes when the current returns to the outlet via the neutral hole and back to the circuit breaker. When you disconnect the lamp, the circuit breaks and the lamp turns off.
The circuit breaker offers the first level of protection in the home. The name “circuit breaker” stems from the breaking or tripping of a circuit (inhibiting the flow of electric current) if the voltage is too high. The second level of safety for the electrical system is the ground wire or hole in the outlet.
The difference between two-pronged and three-pronged outlets
Older homes do not often have the third or “grounded” hole. The outlets have no grounding wire in the electrical system. Since the addition of grounding wire and grounded outlets (three-pronged) provides an additional level of safety, it is mandatory for newer houses and buildings to have three-pronged outlets with grounding wires.
The grounding cable connects separately to each outlet before it is connected to the bottom of the breaker box. The grounding wire sends any harmful electrical current into the ground. It also protects appliances from surges or excess voltage issues. It regularizes the voltage and saves people, devices and properties from electric shock.
What is a GFCI outlet?
A different type of plug that may be present is the GFCI outlet, or the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlet. This outlet is usually placed at locations where contact with water is possible, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
The outlet saves you from electric shock by sensing the current that passes through it. If there is a minor alteration in the current delivered by the equipment connected to the outlet, the GFCI will disconnect the circuit automatically to prevent current from flowing.
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