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Old 11-18-2010, 10:27 AM   #1
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Looking to swap out all old switches and receptacles. Finding ranges from $.59 to $15.00 for an receptacles. Switches, don't even get me started! I understand the switches with the dimmers, sliders, etc etc etc. But as far as the receptacles go is there a REAL difference? Or are you paying for the name Walmart and Gucci? I don't know I am asking? No offense intended to anyone!


One other question, when installing a new outlet or switch should I run a band of electrical tape around the wire connections? (read as around the whole outlet vertically)

The "Lighted" single pole toggle switch, (I really like these) is there anything special needed to hook up? (seeing that there is a light in the toggle?)

THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! I am learning a hell of alot thanks to you all

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Old 11-18-2010, 11:11 AM   #2
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Hey Evil Scotsman,
Its Gregg again with The Home Depot and I agree with you there are a ton of different receptacles! Basic outlets and switches usually come in two different kinds, a ‘good’ one and a ‘better’ one. The better one is thicker and more protective. Receptacles also have different safety features designed work with local codes. One feature, which is becoming standard code for outlets, is tamper resistant. Tamper resistant outlets don’t allow anything to enter them except the prongs of an electrical device. In other words you can’t stick a fork into the outlet, which is nice. Then they also have GFCI outlets, ground fault interrupters. These are installed in kitchens and bathrooms because if they get wet they will shut down. They also have surge protecting outlets, and arch protecting, and any combination of them combined. I would just check what the local code is and stick with it. -Gregg

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Old 11-18-2010, 11:16 AM   #3
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Seems most duplex receptacles are $.59 to around $5, if you're looking at around $15 are you maybe seeing the GFCI receptacles? In those cases, it's basicly a receptacle with a circuit breaker in it. That aside, the lowest cost is the ones that are most commonly used - white, almond, ivory - these sell more than gray, as such they need to rent space in the store (so to speak) a lot less and that's part of what you're paying for at retail, you're paying someone for the time that they had to hold on to the product between when they got it and when you bought it.

Take a look at the difference in price between a plain white plastic box of 10 switch plates and a Disney Tinkerbell switch plate, and then remember that the next time you take your 3 year old girl with you down the electrical aisle...

Electrically speaking, there's probably some difference in quality on commercial grade, but you get a lot of price difference between using what everyone else is using and being different with decora or matching colors.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:16 AM   #4
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


What you are finding out is that there are different qualities of devices; residential, commercial, industrial and hospital grade. The more expensive will be built heavier and contain feature like back-wire clamps.

The lighted switches may need a neutral connection in order to function.

I would not wrap with tape. It makes a mess and is unnecessary.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:55 PM   #5
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Thanks, I kind of figured the decorating was were more expensive because that is what they are.

I guess what my real question should have been is there a major safety difference between the 10 contractors pack and the outlets that are 3 - 5 bucks a piece?
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Old 11-18-2010, 02:24 PM   #6
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


"...you maybe seeing the GFCI receptacles? In those cases, it's basicly a receptacle with a circuit breaker in it."
Not true; this is for ground fault protection, not circuit overloading protection.
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:31 AM   #7
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Scotsman View Post
Thanks, I kind of figured the decorating was were more expensive because that is what they are.

I guess what my real question should have been is there a major safety difference between the 10 contractors pack and the outlets that are 3 - 5 bucks a piece?
Good vs cheap.
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:09 AM   #8
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
"...you maybe seeing the GFCI receptacles? In those cases, it's basicly a receptacle with a circuit breaker in it."
Not true; this is for ground fault protection, not circuit overloading protection.
While I recognize that there are different types of protection, as a lay person I've got to admit - I don't feel like I fully understand just what a circuit breaker protects me from vs a GFCI vs an AFCI, to me it's all just protection and beyond that I follow instructions/code and beyond that I'll defer to the judgement of people smarter than me.

So thanks for clarifying that!
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Old 11-19-2010, 04:13 PM   #9
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


As this is an old posting, I'll just add, don't forget about the 15 amp vs 20 amp outlet difference.

I also agree not to use the tape. Some say it's good to do, but I've seen too much evidence of moisture (then chemical reactions) being trapped when tape is used.

I hope all all came out well.
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Old 11-21-2010, 04:14 AM   #10
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Quote:
Originally Posted by WillK View Post
While I recognize that there are different types of protection, as a lay person I've got to admit - I don't feel like I fully understand just what a circuit breaker protects me from vs a GFCI vs an AFCI, to me it's all just protection and beyond that I follow instructions/code and beyond that I'll defer to the judgement of people smarter than me.

So thanks for clarifying that!
GFCIs, AFCIs, and circuit breakers are VERY different kinds of protection. It's like the difference between life insurance, health insurance, and car insurance, or safety glasses versus a life vest versus a motorcycle helmet.

A circuit breaker protects wiring and equipment from shorts and overloads, which can cause fires. Note that other problems can still cause fires without tripping the breaker! Circuit breakers do not protect people from shocks whatsoever (OK, fine, with proper bonding they sort of do... but that's a more advanced discussion). Basically, a circuit breaker says, "How much power is going through this circuit? Too much, and I cut it off!"

GFCIs protect people from shocks due to ground faults. Note that some other situations can still cause a shock without tripping the GFCI, though it's quite uncommon. A GFCI provides no protection from shorts or overloads. A GFCI says, "Where is the power going in this circuit? If it's leaking out somewhere, I cut it off!"

AFCIs are like regular circuit breakers, with some special features that try to catch some of problems that can cause fires without tripping a regular breaker. They trip on shorts and overloads, but also try to recognize loose connections and major ground faults. They are intended only to protect against fire, not shocks. AFCI's say, "How much power is going through this circuit, where is it going, and how is it flowing? If anything seems fishy, I cut it off!"

So that's the layman's explanation of GFCIs, AFCIs, and ordinary circuit breakers.
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:22 PM   #11
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Usually the contractor packs are garbage and not worth the $1 or less unit savings. On the other hand the higher priced ones are sometimes better made but it is often also a case of being "certified" and not necessarily better made as with hospital ones. For dimmers though the Lutron are not the most expensive you can buy but they are far and away the best in terms of handling lamps on transformers and in terms of durability of the rocker mechanism.
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:43 PM   #12
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Why the wide price range in receptacles and switches?


Buy the outlets @ lowes or HD that are just a little more expensibve than the contractor pack. On average I save about $150 in labor for an entire house from when I used to buy the contractor packs. It is really easy to get the wires in the back of the plug, which makes it easier to center the plug in the outlet. Which lets you put the cover plates on that much faster.

Also, buy the contractor packs for cover plates that have the screws already inside. You can rip the bag open on the corner of the plate w/ out setting your drill down and screws flying everywhere.

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