Electrical Power Points
Also known as socket outlets or general purpose outlets (GPOs) are found throughout all modern homes. It is a point where people and electricity come very close to one another so it is important they are installed correctly and comply with current Australian standards.
Older homes generally only have one power point in each room, this is because before the 1880’s electricity was used primarily for lighting, appliances were not common. Cheaply built modern homes also have few power points, this is due to competition between Electrical Contractors out quoting each other, unfortunately, the cheapest quote usually gets the job. This can turn out to be costly when you decide later on that you want a bedside light or a powerpoint in a kitchen nook for a toaster. When planning an electrical installation, it is best to sit down with an Electrician and mark out all your furniture on your floor plan and create an electrical plan from here. It is far more cost effective to install powerpoints during construction.
Types of power points
Some common types of household 10A powerpoints include:
- Single GPO
- Weatherproof GPO
- Double GPO
- Double with switch GPO
- USB GPO
Single vs double power points
If you’re building a new house, only use single power points where you need to. A double power point is only an extra couple of dollars and a lot more convenient.
“With switch” powerpoint
You can include a switch for a light or fan on your power point, this reduces clutter on your walls but people that are not familiar with your home will be forever asking you where the switch is. Avoid using “with switch” power points in communal areas where visitors are likely to need assistance.
USB power points
A USB power point is a regular powerpoint with 2 USB points where you can directly charge your phone, tablet or camera without the need of an adaptor. In time, manufacturers will stop including adapters when you purchase a new device and you will only get the USB cord.
15A power point
15A (amp) power points are commonly used for motorhomes, garages or anywhere larger sized machinery might be located. You will never need a 15A power point in your house. There is usually only one powerpoint on a 15A powerpoint circuit so these tend to cost more. If you don’t plan on having a welder or any machinery in your garage or shed, don’t include a 15 power point. The difference between a 10A outlet and a 15A is the 15A has a larger earth pin socket, this being said, a 15A socket will allow 10A appliances to be plugged in to it but a 10A socket outlet will not accept a 15A appliance.
Installing additional power points
All the work below must be carried out by a licensed Electrical contractor:
Installing a powerpoint to an existing installation can be either very expensive or very cheap depending on a few factors. The cable run doesn’t have to be long to be difficult and expensive, sometimes a short run may require chasing your wall out, this is a costly exercise as the entire wall will need to be refinished.
If you find that you are short of power points in your house, there are a few ways an Electrician can install additional points on a budget. An Electrician will usually do the job the easiest way but just incase he misses something, below are some ways to easily add power points:
- The easiest and most obvious way to add power points is to upgrade a single to a double or a double to a quad.
- The next easiest way is to install a power point back to back with another. If there is a power point on the other side of the wall, installing one directly opposite should take less than an hour.
- In Australia, most brick houses have double brick external walls which provides a nice little gap for Electricians to run cables. It’s easy enough to add an additional power point to an external wall if there is already power on that wall. This type of installation would typically take 1-2 hours depending on the length of the run.
- If you want a power point in a specific place and you can’t use the methods above, trunking (a square white duct) or a conduit can be used. If it is run along the skirting or in a cupboard you’ll never notice it. Conduit is commonly used in sheds or garages and does not look as out of place here.
- For internal brick walls, the tidiest but most expensive method is to chase a cavity in your wall for the cable to go in. Once the new power point has been installed the entire wall will need to be refinished.
- It is relatively easy to add power points to a stud wall providing there is access to the roof space. From the roof space, a hole can be drilled down through the horizontal nogs to the desired power point location using a drill with a series of extensions.
- Faulty switches; switches usually start getting harder to flick on and off, eventually, they stop working and sometimes fall out. If the switch mechanism has fallen out this needs to be addressed immediately as the copper behind the switch is exposed and is now a shock hazard.
- Regularly used power points often get pulled out of the wall, sometimes it’s as easy as replacing a screw, other times the flush box needs to be replaced.
- Moisture getting behind power points is common with outdoor fittings. This is often caused by poor installation or cheap fittings. There is no reason for an adequately IP (ingress protection) rated outdoor fitting installed correctly to leak.
Brands of power points
One of the most trusted electrical brands is Clipsal.
Most Electricians will recommend Clipsal, besides being a well known trusted brand by Electrical Contractors, if the product is installed and becomes faulty within 12 months Clipsal will send out their own Electrician to replace the product.
Second to Clipsal would be HPM. HPM would be on par with Clipsal but do not offer a warranty.
There are many cheap brands out there, often for a fraction of the price of the above-mentioned brands. However, it pays to steer clear of the cheaper brands (especially when buying online) as many of these do not comply with Australian standards, you may even find your Electrician will refuse to install a particular fitting if he’s not happy with the quality.
If you have any questions, please contact Vested Utility or leave a message in the comments box below