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What’s The Difference Between A 2- and 3-Prong Outlet?

Ever look at an outlet and wonder why some have 3 holes while others only have 2? After reading, we bet you’ll start to notice electrical outlets more often and now you’ll understand why they are the way they are. Let’s begin with a basic understanding of what the holes in an outlet do and how electricity flows from the source to your electrical device.

three electricians inspecting a home's generator

Some outlets have three holes, or prongs, with the left slot being a bit larger than the right. The left slot is called “neutral” and the right is called “hot” with the hole underneath called “ground”. Electricity flows from hot to neutral and the plug that goes into the outlet completes the circuit of electricity so your device receives power.

So what is the purpose of the ground slot? It’s there to protect you from electrical shock that can be caused by metal-encased appliances. In a case where a hot wire comes loose inside an ungrounded metal case, it can potentially burn anybody that touches the wire.

Still wondering what the main difference is between a 2- and a 3-prong outlet? There’s not a whole lot different, except for the one major safety feature – the ground slot. A 2-prong outlet is more likely to cause electric shock in the absence of this feature.

Now that you understand the difference you may want to upgrade to 3-prong outlets around your home. If so, give Lon Lockwood Electric a call today at (585) 766-4702!