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What is a Wall Socket?

by Shopify API on April 29, 2024

What is a Wall Socket?

A wall socket (also known as an outlet, power point, or electrical receptacle) is a piece of electrical equipment that allows you to plug in electric devices. The most common type of socket has two vertical slots for the prongs of an electrical plug, but there are many different types made to meet a wide range of requirements, such as child safety and surge protection. Most electrical outlets are also called sockets or receptacles.

When talking about a wall socket, the term usually refers to the actual socket in your home, installed by an electrician. This is where you plug in your appliances and other electronic devices, such as a computer or laptop. Some types of wall sockets have switches to control when they are turned on or off, and some come with built-in surge or overcurrent protection.

Most wall outlets are rated to accept a maximum of 15 amps. This is usually enough for most household appliances, including lights and small electrical devices. However, you may find that some of your larger devices need a higher amperage rating, such as a washing machine or space heater. To provide the additional power necessary for these devices, you can use a multisocket adaptor that will give you an extra slot in your wall socket.

These plugs have three flat current-carrying pins in a Y-shaped design, with the line and neutral 19 mm (0.75 in) apart, and are rated at 16 A. In 1989, the standard was changed to allow the sockets to also accept older Israeli plugs, and non-earthed Europlugs (often used in Israel for equipment that does not need to be earthed and uses less current than the Europlug is rated for).

The UK standard, BS 1363, has a rectangular socket with lateral key pins and indentations to maintain polarization and prevent insertion of a plug with a different current rating. These sockets are rated at 10 A or 16 A for single-phase general purpose connectors, and are rated at 20 A for industrial devices.

In China, the electrical standard is defined by GB 1002. Sockets are generally of the 3-pin (Type C) configuration, with a third grounding pin. The pin dimensions and spacing are similar to the European CEE 7/2 or CEE 7/17, but without insulation sleeves.

The standard also defines a 2-pin plug for Class 2 applications. The pin dimensions are 6.5 by 1.6 mm, with a gap between the pins of 6 mm (0.236 in). Plugs that are not fitted with an earthing pin are not permitted on the Chinese market.


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