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    Guide to Power Points: Choosing the Right Outlets for Your Home

    By on Last modified: January 10, 2024

    Choosing electrical outlets for your home or office largely determines safety, convenience and the overall look. There are more than a few types of power points, differing in their layout and design, the current rating, how many appliances or devices they can power and additional features that extend usability or increase safety. Most Aussie homes feature so-called ‘I’ sockets, either in a two or three-prong design and rocker switches to connect or disconnect them from the grid. The convenience allows any items and plugs to be permanently connected without actually drawing any power and unnecessarily raising bills, as well as a feature to avoid unwanted mishaps and injuries or damage to whatever is connected. 

    When to Change Your Power Points

    power point with usb
    source: clipsal.com

    There will be obvious signs that outlets need changing, the sooner the better. As a homeowner, you’ll want the health and well-being of all occupants as a priority and avoid any material damage that bad outlets, like electrical fires, can cause. While better-built units wired correctly do tend to last (some more than 20 years) there’ll come a time when you need to consider replacements. 

    Tell-tale signs include discoloured, damaged or melted faceplates, frequent sparks or burning odours when connecting or disconnecting appliances and consumer goods, outlets hot to the touch and those that come loose or won’t hold a plug. Older outlets can also struggle with the higher power requirements of newer appliances, leading to premature damage or issues with the home wiring. 

    Safety should be your main concern, but not the only one. Outlets can soon become outdated and not exactly the last word in style when renovating or updating interiors for a newer, refreshed look. Newer options include outlets in different materials, finishes, textures, colour schemes and designs to suit more modern tastes in line with upgrades, so can be used to draw or divert attention to other features or items in the home. 

    The last reason is keeping up with the times. Here it would be best if you considered inclusions like the power point with USB charging, to reduce clutter with straddling chargers and cables when topping up phones, laptops and other mobile devices. The same can be said of smart outlets that use Wi-Fi and voice commands to control Wi-Fi-enabled plugged items from said devices.   

    Outlet Types 

    Double powerpoints are the most common type in Aussie homes. All are of the switched type, installed horizontally, and often with a 10A current rating to provide ample power for most connected items. Single and quad outlets are less common but still combined with double outlets in walls and rooms to avoid cluttering or reduce the likelihood of electrical faults. These can all be of the standard kind, but most homes now benefit from combo USB powerpoints that offer their long list of usability and convenience. Buyers can also find USB-only outlets with a varying number (1 to 4) of charging points. 

    Outlets can additionally be classified as to where they’re used, with outdoor and weatherproofed types, often in higher amp rating (15 or 20A) able to power things like corded drills, saws and garden tools. These are seen in garages and sheds. Then there are media (with varying connection types) and telephony outlets bringing in broadband, fixed phone lines and cable TV through separate sockets. Others can be specified with built-in circuit protection, and here RCD and RCBO outlets now meet newer safety wiring standards. 

    How USB Outlets Benefit Your Home

    power point with usb
    source: clipsal.com

    USB-compatible outlets are gaining in popularity. They’re now standard features in newer homes, but existing builds can also be fitted with USB sockets. Most come as an additional feature in standard single or double powerpoints, with the ports either in a central or side position, allowing users to plug in phones and devices directly. Or they’re standalone units, with some supplied with their own device cradles. Good if you’ve lost the charger or your device didn’t come with one in the first place. Besides this, a powerpoint with USB charging offers a ton of benefits that are hard to pass by: 

    • No more adapters – with fast charging in phones, adapters are becoming huge bricks that take up a lot of space. This makes using the remaining outlets in double and quad layouts harder for anything else. With a USB charging plug socket, you can throw away cumbersome adapters and free up space. And with most households having multiple mobile devices, USB sockets with more ports means you can charge (almost) everything from a single outlet.
    • Faster charging – if you’re still holding onto an older Apple or Android device, newer USB sockets will charge your phone or tablet much quicker. Sockets feature electronic smarts that tailor the amperage to the specific device, so there’s no fretting about possible damage. 
    • Versatility – USB power points aren’t just restricted to phones or tablets. Cameras, speakers, lamps, small kitchen appliances, gaming consoles and a host of other consumer electronics are charged this way.
    • Safety and durability – overloading your electrical installation and causing damage to sockets isn’t a rare occurrence, but the use of the right charging sockets nulls the additional strain chargers and adapters placed on your home’s electrical installation. Moreover, there’s considerable thought to materials and build, meaning any USB socket will far outlast even the most expensive adapters. 
    • Convenience – let’s face it, lost or damaged chargers are your teen’s worst nightmare. Not only does a USB socket remedy lost charging options, but you’ll also be freeing up ports on your laptop to do the same job. 
    • Energy savings – sockets don’t use power when on standby so are also more efficient. And they don’t waste energy, even with the device turned off but still plugged in.