Electrical Outlet Vs. Receptacle: What Are The Differences?

If you are a homeowner or DIY electrician, you may have heard about electrical outlets, sockets, and receptacles. These three names are flappy. So, most people get confused with their different uses.

Most importantly, people often become confused about applying the right terms for the right devices. It gets even more frustrating when you see defects in the electrical line. Then, it would be best if you worked with the electrical outlet and receptacle.

So, what are the differences between the electrical outlet vs. receptacle?

To put it briefly, an electrical outlet is a vent through which electricity flows. On the other side, the receptacle refers to a series of slots. The plug enters one of these slots in the series. There can be multiple receptacles or slots in a single outlet.

Nonetheless, the key difference between the electrical receptacle and the outlet can be superficial. So, let’s dive deep into the differences.

Electrical Outlet Vs. Receptacle

Electrical Outlet vs. Receptacle: The Differences

Most of us become confused about differentiating between the electrical outlet and receptacle. At times we may see any defects and problems in the home appliances or electric connections. We often fail to detect where it has occurred when we don’t see the differences. Then we need to inform the electrical mechanic about it. But, we often misleadingly speak about the wrong device.

That’s why we must know which is an electrical outlet and receptacle.

The difference in the definition:

There is a strong similarity between the electrical receptacles and outlet. It becomes confusing for us. Thus, we must understand their true definition and functions.

Thankfully, the National Electric Code (NEC) has given a straightforward answer. NEC is the regulatory association for developing electric and building codes for safety purposes. According to NEC, the outlet is a current providing point of the electric equipment. On the other side, NEC describes the receptacle as a contact appliance. The receptacle will be on the electric outlet. It holds the plug of the electrical appliances such as air conditioners, TV, refrigerator, etc.

You may also have heard about the receptacle outlet. It means the outlet has space to accommodate multiple receptacles. So, you can connect multiple plugs to it. The multiple receptacles outlet is used in most homes. It saves space and improves convenience in using home appliances.

Electrical Outlet vs. Receptacle
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Pricing comparison:

Do you plan to install the electrical connections and devices at home, office, or commercial space? Then, you can’t forget their cost. You should know the pricing difference between the receptacle and the electrical outlet.

As our research found, there’s not so much difference in their pricing. You can get a good-quality outlet at around $200 to $250. Also, the receptacle price varies from $200 to $220. It shows that the price difference between these two appliances is negligible.

Common types of electrical outlets and receptacles:

Are you planning to install a new electrical system at home? Or maybe you have a new home where you need to install the electrical devices? Whatever the reason is, you must choose the right receptacle and outlet for it.

Therefore, we have researched and found the common electrical outlets and receptacles. It includes the following variations:

  • 15A 125V duplex receptacle
  • 15/20A 125V GFCI receptacle
  • 20A 125V receptacle

These three receptacles are found widely in most homes. You will need a 30A 125/250V receptacle if you need high voltage devices. It can be an electric cloth dryer. Lastly, you will need 15, 20, and 30A 250V rated electrical receptacle outlets for commercial uses. It can be in shops, garages, or workshops.

NEMA designation:

NEMA refers to National Electrical Manufacturers Association. They have different regulations and rules for electric devices. You will see NEMA designates different electrical receptacles. The NEMA designation of the receptacles will help you know what wire color, size, and breaker size it can afford in the connectors.

Nonetheless, the electrical outlet doesn’t have such type of NEMA designation. The receptacle will sit on the outlet and let you plug in the device.


You should now thoroughly understand the differences between an electrical outlet vs. receptacle. It should be easy since the receptacle will sit right on the outlet. The outlet provides the necessary current to the plug to relay it to the main appliance. Also, note that the socket can be an outlet, but not all the sockets are an outlet.

Also, the outlet is the whole setup of the box, and the receptacles are the prongs where you connect the plug. There can be single or multiple receptacles in one outlet.

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