Do you know the difference between 120V and 240V outlets? Even if you’re not familiar with the terminology, you’ve seen the difference in the outlets themselves. The standard electric outlet you’ll plug a lamp or vacuum into is a 120V outlet. When you plug in your oven or washing machine, though, you’ll notice that an appliance outlet has a different appearance than a standard outlet. That’s because a large appliance requires a 240V outlet. When planning the electricity for a home, builders will place a 240 volt outlet wherever it’s likely to be needed, like in the laundry room or kitchen. Throughout the rest of the house, they’ll install the typical 120 volt electrical outlet.
So, what’s the difference between the two types of outlets? A standard 120V outlet contains a 120 volt wire and a neutral wire, and preferably a grounding wire. A 240V outlet has two 120 volt wires and a neutral wire. Older homes often have three prong 240 volt outlets, but modern outlets have a ground wire and four prongs. This extra prong provides additional safety against electrical shock, and installing four prong receptacles can help solve any compatibility issues if you purchase new appliances and accommodate a 240 volt plug.
Why would you need to have additional 240 volt outlets installed? If you purchase a new oven, range or cooktop, clothes dryer, water heater or central air conditioner, the new appliance will require a new outlet. What’s more, you may need a 240V outdoor electrical outlet if you purchase an electric car and need to charge it at home.
In addition to appliances and electric cars, 240V power is great for lighting. Commercial greenhouses and stadiums use 240V power instead of 120V, and it’s great for outdoor floodlights, too. Why? Simply put, it’s just twice as much power. Joule’s Law states: Power is equal to voltage times current. If you’ve got twice the voltage, as in the case of 120V compared to 240V, you’ll have twice the power. When you’re trying to run multiple high-powered lights, it’s smart to use more power to do that.
Interestingly, there’s not much cost difference between 240V and 120V usage. Logic might dictate that drawing less amps with 120V outlets means that you’re using less power than with 240V, but that’s actually not the case. If you use 240V power for many different appliances or lights, your electric bills may be higher. That’s not because of the voltage, though, but rather the higher number of things using that voltage.
If your electrical system needs updating, call Hoover Electric. Hoover Electric, Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling has been serving customers in Southeast Michigan since 1980, offering courteous, professional service. We offer all the services you need for residential maintenance under one roof, so we can offer extremely competitive pricing while maintaining great customer service and guaranteed satisfaction. When you’re looking for top-quality electrical, plumbing, heating, or cooling services in Clinton Township, contact Hoover through our website or call 586-232-9204 today.