Receptacle Outlet Code Requirements
What types of receptacle outlets are required by the code?
There are all kinds of receptacle outlets on the market with added features like USB charging ports, surge protection, night lights, combination receptacle and switch devices, and more. While these features might serve a special purpose or convenience, they are not required by the code. In order to pass your next electrical inspection, here are the main categories of receptacles you need to know about:
Grounding-Type Receptacles: All new receptacles have to be the three-prong grounding type (there are some exceptions and alternatives when it comes to replacing old two-prong non-grounding type receptacles in older homes).
Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Receptacles (GFCI): The electronics in a GFCI receptacle monitor the flow of current in the circuit and will trip open in less than 5 milliseconds if there is a ground-fault condition, such as a faulty appliance. The quick-acting GFCI receptacle is intended to stop the flow of current before it causes your heart to go into defibrillation, thus preventing a fatal electrical shock.
Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Receptacles (AFCI): Similar to a GFCI receptacle, AFCI receptacles have sophisticated electronics that monitor the flow of current. AFCIs look for abnormal arcing signatures in the circuit, and they will trip open and stop the flow of current to prevent the arc from starting a fire.
Tamper-Resistant Receptacles (TR): All 15- and 20-ampere receptacles in a home are now required to be tamper-resistant. Tamper-resistant receptacles have built-in shutters that prevent children from inserting foreign objects in the receptacle slots. The vast majority of electrical burns and shocks occurred among children 6 years of age or less. Tamper-resistant receptacles are also now required in hotel rooms, child care facilities, preschools, elementary education facilities, waiting areas in medical and dental clinics, dormitories, and waiting areas in any place of assembly, anywhere children may not be closely supervised.
Weather-Resistant Receptacles (WR): All 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in damp or wet locations are now required to be approved and marked as weather-resistant (WR). Compared to standard-grade receptacles, weather-resistant receptacles have extra corrosion protection, resistance against ultraviolet light (UV), and they withstand impact and abuse in cold weather. A damp location is protected from the weather and not subject to saturation with water but is subject to moderate degrees of moisture, such as under a canopy or open porch. A wet location is anywhere subject to saturation with water, such as the exterior of a home.