AC power plugs and sockets — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Doral 240 WA boat

AC power plugs and sockets

Plugs and sockets may sometimes combine male and female contacts, but the exposed pins or terminals in the socket are not energized. (clockwise from top left: German CEE 7/4 plug and socket, French CEE 7/5 socket)

AC power plugs and sockets are devices that allow electrically operated equipment to be connected to the primary alternating current (AC) power supply in a building. Electrical plugs and sockets differ in voltage and current rating, shape, size and type of connectors. The types used in each country are set by national standards, some of which are listed in the IEC technical report TR 60083, Plugs and socket-outlets for domestic and similar general use standardized in member countries of IEC . [ 1 ]

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Concepts and terminology [ edit ]

Generally the plug is the movable connector attached to an electrically operated device’s mains cable. and the socket is fixed on equipment or a building structure and connected to an energised electrical circuit. The plug has protruding prongs, blades, or pins (referred to as male ) that fit into matching slots or holes (called female ) in the sockets. Sockets are designed to prevent exposure of bare energised contacts. Sockets may also have protruding exposed contacts, but these are used exclusively for earthing (grounding).

To reduce the risk of users accidentally touching energized conductors and thereby experiencing electric shock. plug and socket systems often incorporate safety features in addition to the recessed slots or holes of the energized socket. These may include plugs with insulated sleeves, recessed sockets, sockets with blocking shutters, and sockets designed to accept only compatible plugs inserted in the correct orientation.


The term plug is in general and technical use in all forms of English, common alternatives being power plug . [ 2 ] electric plug . [ 3 ] and (in the UK) plug top . [ 4 ] The normal technical term (in both British and International English) for an AC power socket is socket-outlet . [ 5 ] but in non-technical common use a number of other terms are used. In British English the general term is socket, but there are numerous common alternatives, including power point . [ 6 ] plug socket . [ 7 ] wall socket . [ 8 ] and wall plug . [ 9 ] In American English receptacle and outlet are common, sometimes with qualifiers such as wall outlet . electrical outlet and electrical receptacle . all of these sometimes to be found in the same document. [ 10 ] A socket may be surrounded by a decorative and/or protective cover called a wall plate . face plate . outlet cover . [ 11 ] socket cover . or wall cover . In some designs this is an integral piece with the socket itself, bought and installed as a single unit.

Electrical sockets for single phase domestic, commercial and light industrial purposes generally provide either two or three electrical connections to the supply conductors. All two pin sockets provide neutral and line connections, both of which carry current and are defined as live parts . [ 12 ] [ 13 ] Neutral is usually at or very near to earth potential, usually being earthed either at the distribution board or at the substation. Line (also known as phase or hot ) carries the full supply voltage relative to the neutral (and to earth). Three pin sockets provide, in addition, a protective earth [ 14 ] connection. This allows the exposed metal parts of the appliance to be connected to earth (also known as ground ), providing protection to the user should those exposed parts inadvertently come into contact with any live parts within the appliance. Some sockets may carry two line connections, each at half the supply voltage relative to the (sometimes missing) neutral but the full voltage relative to each other (NEMA 14-30 is an example). Industrial and multiphase power plugs and sockets may have more than one line conductor, particularly if connected to three phase power systems.

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