I Got the Power: How Do I Measure It?
We have taken the confusion out of the basics you need to know when selecting outlets for your home. In this article, we discuss the different amperages and features regarding outlets so that you have the power when it comes to deciding how to wire your home.
Electrical outlets are the destination for plugs that connect to an electrical system and provide power to a corded appliance. That provided power is measured by its voltage. Volts measure the amount of force exerted by the power source. Amperage measures the electrical current’s strength in a circuit. Watts measure the electrical power resistance.
This concept can be difficult to conceptualize. The relationship between volts, amps, and watts is commonly described using a water pipe analogy. Volts equal water pressure, or a measurement of how much energy it takes to send an ampere across a circuit. Amps equal the flow rate, or how fast the electricity is moving through a circuit. Watts equal the pipe size (exerting resistance), which are represented by Ohms.
Using this example, the relationship between volts and amps is clearly defined. In the same way that pipe size impacts how much water flows in a period of time, wattage impacts how much power is consumed by the device.
Let it Out(let)
Household wiring emits 120 volts, on average. This means that household circuits are designed to carry 15 to 20 amps. Electrical outlets are rated based on amperage, either 15 or 20 amps. Wire size (gauge) determines amperage: 15-amp outlets use 14-gauge wire for outlet circuitry, where 20-amp outlets use 12-gauge wire.
Most electrical outlets are duplex-style, featuring 2 electrical outlets. The following illustration depicts a 15-amp duplex outlet. The 20-amp outlet features a T-shaped prong, where the 15-amp outlet features two straight slats. Both outlets feature a ground pin below the plug slats to stabilize the plug in the outlet.