ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLES INTRODUCTION
Receptacles, also called outlets or sockets, are devices with slots for plugs. They are made in some colors, but are mostly found in brown, ivory, and white. Intended for tapping off power where needed in the house, they are always on. When you plug in an item, the circuit is completed and power is available.
Receptacles are available in single or duplex style (two outlets in one device). They have terminal screws: The line, or hot-side, screw is copper- or brass-colored; the neutral side is silver. Receptacles may also have a green grounding screw on one corner of the frame. The bare ground wire on the cable gets attached to this.
Most of today's receptacles also have holes in the back into which bared ends of wires are pushed. The holes are identified according to electrical function, which makes for a faster connection than the screw type. These are also handy in wiring a device when there is not enough room on the screw terminals for the wires, or the clamp holes allow for more convenient routing of wires within the box.
Like other electrical devices, receptacles are rated in terms of voltage and amperage capacity, and the device plugged into it must not exceed this capacity.
Standard receptacles are for 15 amps, but they are available in 20 amps that are "spec" or specification grade. These are better made than ordinary receptacles and are a good choice in a kitchen, bath, or wherever the receptacle gets a lot of wear.
Most receptacles have three slots -- two flat slots for the plug prongs and a D-shaped one for the ground prong on the plug. All receptacles are -- or should be -- grounded. One type is automatically grounded when it is attached to the box. On other types a wire must be fastened from the screws to the box. In cases where there is no easy way to hook grounding wires, you can attach a U-shaped device called a grounding clip to the box, or install a green 8x32 grounding screw in one of the tappings in the back of every metal box and link the wire to this.
Receptacles mayor may not have metal ears that bear on the plaster or wallboard for the purpose of location. These brackets are on top and bottom and keep the receptacle flush with the wall. If you wish, depending on the situation, the ears can be snapped off with pliers.
If you are housing more than one receptacle in a box, wrap electrical tape around each after making the connections. The tape should cover the terminal screws. This ensures that a short circuit won't occur due to exposed wires contacting one another.
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