Electrical Outlet Installation: Which Ones Do I Need?


Whether you are building a new home or are considering doing electrical updates, having some knowledge about electrical outlets will serve you well.

Electrical outlets have changed over the years, both due to increasing demands for electricity and because technology is ever evolving to make things safer and more efficient.

So here’s a list of what electrical outlets you might have now and what you can expect to see more of in the future.

Outlets of the Past


Everyone will recognize these as they were the standard of days gone by, though they are nearly obsolete now. Most modern appliances can’t even plug into these dated outlets as they come equipped with a third grounding prong. Two-prong outlets are 15 amp/125 volt and are used for ungrounded circuits only. It probably won’t be long until they’re gone for good.


Also 15 amp/125 Volt outlets, these are the ones that are most commonly found today. Featuring two narrow vertical prongs and a third round prong below for grounding, these electrical outlets are today’s standard. That’s great news since the third prong is there to help prevent electrical shock in case any wiring comes loose.

Switch/Outlet Combos

A combination outlet that essentially allows you to turn an outlet on or off with the flick of a switch. Great for people who love saving energy, plus they allow you the ability to transform a receptacle, adding an additional switch or outlet to an existing box, without the need for any added wiring.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

GFCI outlets are found where water is near. For example, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. These electrical outlets monitor electrical flow and prevent it from leaking. If there is a spike in the current, it basically has a built in kill switch. You can identify them by two small buttons in the centre – “TEST” and “RESET”.

20 Amp/125 Volt Outlet

These electrical outlets are 20 Amp/125 Volt and are used when high current devices are in demand like large kitchen appliances. They look similar to standard outlets, the difference is there is a horizontal slot connected to the top left vertical slot of the outlet.

20 Amp/250 Volt Outlets

These outlets are generally found in shops where high energy appliances are used. Air compressors or other high energy tools will plug into this type of electrical outlet.

Outlets of the Future

USB Outlets

Do you have a hard time knowing where you last plugged in your phone charger or are you constantly fighting over them with other family members? USB outlets have a separate slot specifically for charging devices. We expect these to be a standard addition sooner than later.

Tamper Resistant Receptacles

These feature a barrier to prevent children from sticking small (usually metal) objects into the outlet. The are much safer so why wouldn’t they be the standard in the future?

Built-In LED Night Light Outlets

This is another great option and one that speaks to the trend of simplifying and reducing clutter. This nighttime lighting option is sleek, simple, and convenient.

Recessed Outlets

Get creative and put recessed outlets anywhere to create a smooth finish. In the past an outlet meant added bulk, but with recessed outlets, large gaps between walls and furniture are gone.

Like anything, electrical outlets have changed over time. And they continue to change, becoming safer, sleeker and more convenient.

If you have any questions about which outlets you need (or simply want) for your home, BPM Electrical is staffed with experts to help.