The standard household electrical outlet consists of two three-pronged, polarized receptacles. Each receptacle has a 120-volt ‘hot’ wire, a neutral wire and a ground. This dual design allows the use of either hot wire to supply the standard 120-volt household circuits. For higher power applications like clothes dryers, electric ranges and air conditioners, a single receptacle is used where two of the prongs are a hot wire and the third a neutral, which can be used to produce a 240-volt circuit.
The two receptacles in a common outlet receive power from the same circuit leading from the main electrical supply panel. They are wired together so that two appliances which are plugged into the receptacle receive the same voltage, but can draw different amounts of electric current. This parallel wiring is the standard for 120-volt circuits in the entire house, making possible the independent use of all appliances, supplied by the same voltage.
The wider prong on the polarized plug will permit it to be plugged in only with the correct polarity. The narrower prong is the ‘hot’ lead and the switch to the appliance is placed in that lead, guaranteeing that no voltage will reach the appliance when it is switched off.
Interruptions in circuit wiring are not only an inconvenience, but also present fire hazards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 50 people die every year from accidental electrocutions involving residential wiring, panel boards, circuit breakers, and outlets. Another 40 electrocutions each year involve household appliances that are connected to the wiring of homes.
By making sure you have a thorough electrical inspection completed by a qualified electrician before buying, selling or remodeling a home, you can help ensure your home’s electrical system operates at the highest level of safety possible. Advantage Services’ trained electricians can provide whole house re-wiring and evaluation of your circuits to ensure the safe delivery of electrical current within your home.