What Is The Difference Between Socket And Outlet? [Beginner Guide]

Difference Between Socket And Outlet

Electrical outlets and electrical sockets — we’ve all come across them. But how many of you know what the difference is between them and what the correct terminology is?

We’re here to fill in the gaps and provide a comprehensive guide to the differences between these two terms, whether you’re a professional electrician or just trying to learn more about your home.

Also, make sure to check out my post on How To Install A Wireless Electrical Outlet Switch?

So, What Is The Difference Between Socket And Outlet?

An outlet is what you plug into when you want to use an appliance—anything from an electronic device, lamp, heater, or any other device that you want to be able to plugin.

Difference Between Socket And Outlet

A socket is the actual fitting where the appliance plugs into- it’s the actual box with 2 or more pins, which you plug your appliance into, whether it’s a lamp, TV, or any other device.

As you can see, there is quite a difference between socket and outlet, but the terms are quite often incorrectly used interchangeably.

The Difference Between A Socket And An Outlet In The United States

Difference Between A Socket And An Outlet

In the United States, there is no concrete rule for what you call an outlet or a socket. Generally speaking, though, sockets are used for smaller appliances such as lamps, clocks, and radios. Outlets are used for larger appliances that require higher electricity consumption such as washers, ovens, and dryers.

If you’re installing new appliances or wiring, then it is important to be aware of these differences and pick the correct electrical products. If you want to hire a licensed electrical contractor, make sure they can provide references, and don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions before hiring them.

Otherwise, if you’re just trying to choose the correct electrical products for your home, then you still need to be careful that you don’t mix up the terms.

Are There Different Types Of Wall Sockets?

Different Types Of Wall Sockets

There are 4 different types of wall sockets or outlets. Usually, you can tell by looking at your outlet which type it is, but if not, below are the 4 different types:

1) Standard US Two-Slot Outlet. 

This is the most common type of outlet in the United States and comes in a two-slot version and a three-slot version.

2) Grounding or 3-Prong Outlet 

This type of outlet is becoming almost obsolete in the United States. It has 3 slots and a hole for grounding on one side of it.

3) Grounding Universal Plug Adapter 

Grounding Universal Plug Adapter is a special adapter that allows you to plug in 2-slot appliances into 3-prong outlets.

4) USB Outlet

The final type is a USB outlet. It allows you to plug in any standard 2-slot appliance, but it also has a USB port.

Is There Any Difference Between US And UK Sockets?

Difference Between US And UK Sockets

Yes! Wall sockets in the United States and wall sockets in the UK are totally different. The American standard 120-volt AC is incompatible with the British standard 230-volt AC. This means you can’t plug an appliance designed for the United States in a wall socket in the UK, or vice versa.

Also, the American standard wall socket has two vertical slots and a round or ‘D’ shaped earth pin that sticks out from the socket.

In contrast, a British wall outlet has three rectangular slots and an earth pin that looks like a flattened version of the American one.

There are conversion plugs you can buy to convert an American socket into a British socket—and vice versa—but these need to be used with caution.

You may think it is fine to use one in the UK because you are only visiting. However, if someone else uses that appliance with the UK plug-in an American outlet, and then you use it with a US plug back home, there is a risk of serious damage because the voltage is different.

What Are Some Other Terms For An Electrical Outlet Or Socket?

Other terms you might come across are outlet covers, electrical outlets, AC receptacles, and AC power sockets. These all refer to the same thing and are interchangeable. However, make sure you’re using the correct terms to avoid confusion and ensure that any electrical products you choose correctly match your current installations.

Here Is A Nice Video Explaining About, What Is The Difference Between Socket And Outlet?


There is a difference between socket and outlet in both electrical and general terms, but it’s up to you which term you want to use. If in doubt, check your local building regulations or contact an electrical specialist if you’re not sure which electrical products you need.

Now that you know the correct terms for an outlet, the next time someone says “outlet” or “socket,” you won’t have to ask which one they mean!

We hope that the article has been useful in eliminating the difference between socket and outlet.

If you have any questions or concerns, please leave a message below.

Thank You For Reading This Article.