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Electrical Receptacles (Outlets)

Need a few more power outlets but are tired of using unsightly extension cords? Perhaps you are adding a new room or finishing off the basement and just want to include power. In either case, you'll want to choose the right electrical receptacle (commonly called an "outlet").

Voltage and Amperage

Outlets are designed for specific voltages and maximum amperage. Most household current is 120 volts, but there are special outlets designed for 240 volt appliances such as electric stoves and other high energy devices. The slot arrangement differs by the voltage -- make sure you buy the right one.

Also, the receptacles are designed to carry a specific maximum current. Your outlet should match or be less than that of the wire to which it is attached. Most 120 volt outlets are 15 or 20 amps.

Ground Fault

Before you begin your project, make sure that you know your local building codes. Most jurisdictions require any electrical work that goes into a wall to be inspected and approved prior to covering it up. The code may also mandate the number and location of outlets and the use of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles in wet areas. A GFCI is a more expensive version of the ordinary receptacle, but safer, too, because it is designed to shut off the power in a fraction of a second in the event of an accidental grounding. This feature can avoid potentially

fatal shock accidents that can occur in wet areas (bathroom, kitchens, outdoors, etc.).

Be sure to also consider the appearance of the cover plates for the outlets.

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