This article and detailed wiring diagram explain how to wire the common household receptacle. The 15A, 125V receptacle is the most widely used device in your home. I’ve added a video at the end of the article that demonstrates how to wire a receptacle.
This is your standard receptacle that powers everything from your toaster to your TV. Whether you are replacing or adding a receptacle, here’s how to connect them.
Always ensure that the power is off before working on any circuit!
Step #1- Make sure that the circuit is properly grounded. When installing or replacing a receptacle, connect the ground wire first. When removing an old receptacle, disconnect the ground wire last. The ground or bonding wire should be connected to the bonding screw in the device box, and either pig-tailed (in the case of more than one conductor), or left long enough to connect to the green grounding / bonding terminal on the receptacle.
Step #2 – Connect the neutral wire (s) next. They connect to the silver terminals that correspond with the longer vertical prong on the face of the receptacle.
Step #3 – Then connect the black (or red) hot wire (s). They connect to the brass terminals that correspond with the shorter vertical prong on the face of the receptacle.
Our sample receptacle has two cables entering the device box, and in this first diagram we are using the device terminals to complete the circuit.
Note that this is a practice that is not accepted by everyone, so check with your local electrical authority.
*Click on images to enlarge.
The second method is to connect the receptacle by the use of “pig-tail” splices so that the receptacle is connected to only one set of conductors.
In your home, most of the receptacles will have at least two cables entering the same box. The second cable is usually feeding another receptacle, however, it could also be coming from a light or switch.
If you have only one cable entering the device box, tighten the unused screws to avoid them coming in contact with the metal box (if using a metal box), or to mitigate the risk of the unused terminals coming in to contact with the bare ground wire when installing the device in place.
There are many other types of receptacles that you may find around the house, like 20A, or 15/20A, 125V Receptacles, GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) Receptacles, electric Dryer Receptacles (30A, 125/250V), and electric Range Receptacles (50A, 125/250V), to name a few.
Here’s a quick video that takes you step-by-step through the wiring of a receptacle.
Questions? Post them below.
Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician