Outlets, sockets, and receptacles are some of the most common electrical components we use every day to supply power or recharge our electrical appliances. However, even though they carry out the same task, they do have a number of differences.

The basic differences can be found in the basic task they carry out individually, the average number of devices that can be powered from them, their shape and size, price and so much more.

In this article, I will discuss thoroughly about the key differences between an outlet VS socket VS receptacle to the best of my ability. I shall also go through how these three are all linked to each other in a setup.

Outlet VS Socket VS Receptacle

Differences Among Outlets, Sockets, and Receptacles

As I have mentioned above, the differences between sockets, electrical outlets, and receptacles can be observed in several critical areas. I will provide a table below to showcase some of the sectors in which they differ from each other.

Comparison Chart: Outlet VS Socket VS Receptacle

Area of DissimilarityOutletSocketReceptacle
DefinitionAny input terminal that supplies power through any kind of cord when plugged in, can be called an outlet.An input or output terminal, that exclusively channels power through any certain type of plug or connection is called a socket.The contraption which holds the connection securely in place on an outlet is called a receptacle.
Build ConfigurationAn outlet can be made up of multiple receptacles.Sockets are usually used alone. But they can come in a group.Multiple receptacles can be on the same outlet.
RoleOutlets contain one or many sockets or receptacles.Sockets are mechanically an opening where anything is plugged in.A receptacle is an opening in a socket.
Number of ConnectionsAn outlet can host multiples connections.A socket can only support one connection.A receptacle can also support one plug per receptacle.
PriceThe average cost per outlet is $175.The price of sockets can vary from $5 up to $250 depending on the type.Each receptacle, if bought separately without an outlet, can cost from $7 to $50.
ExampleFig 1- An Outlet with USB Connections and 3 Receptacles
Fig 1- An Outlet with USB Connections and 3 Receptacles
Fig 2- A Light Socket
Fig 2- A Light Socket
Fig 3- An Outlet with 2 Receptacles
Fig 3- An Outlet with 2 Receptacles

These are some of the most common key factors which differentiate between an outlet, a socket, and a receptacle.

Relationship Between Outlets, Sockets, and Receptacles

As we can see from above that outlets, sockets, and receptacles are each a type of their own. However, all three of them are interconnected. More on this below:

Definition:

By definition, an outlet contains either multiple sockets or multiple receptacles. Outlets and receptacles are specifically for supplying power. But a socket can be used not only to supply power but to channel it as well.

Build Configuration:

Any outlet can be a socket, but not every socket can be an outlet. Are outlets and receptacles the same thing? No, a receptacle is the part of the socket or outlet, which has the holes through which a plug goes in. This means, a socket definitely contains a receptacle but an outlet can contain multiple.

Role in Connection:

An outlet acts as a holder for the sockets and receptacles. A socket is just the connection point of two different devices to channel power through them. A receptacle just holds the connection securely.

Fig 4- Outlet with 4 USB Connections and 3 Receptacles
Fig 4- Outlet with 4 USB Connections and 3 Receptacles

Number of Connections:

As mentioned before, one socket or one receptacle can hold only one connection itself. But an outlet can contain multiple connections within itself. In the picture above (Fig 4) we can see an outlet, which contains 4 USB connections and 3 receptacles.

Price:

Outlets are significantly costly (except in some cases) compared to sockets or receptacles. Because one outlet can contain multiple sockets or receptacles. However, in some cases, some rare or unique sockets can cost more than outlets.

Fig 5- Different Types of Socket
Fig 4- Outlet with 4 USB Connections and 3 Receptacles

Example:

As we can see in the image above (Fig 5), there are several types of sockets available. Each is used for each distinct region, device, or purpose. An outlet can contain one or multiple of these. And each socket, a plug is held in place, with a receptacle. A receptacle is a hole, through which a plug is plugged into the socket and the outlet.

These are the key interactions that take place between an outlet, a socket, and a receptacle.

Summary

I have tried to cover the key differences between an outlet VS socket VS receptacle as best as I can, throughout this article. I have also talked about how these three are all interconnected with one another.

I hope this article has given you a clear idea about the distinction between these three as well as an approximate idea of the best use case for these in your own setup.

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