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US / CA Power sockets / outlets with on/off switches

 
pollinator
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I was reading in another thread about unplugging the black boxes that power computers, laptops etc.

I’m in the process of renovating a house in the US and I’m used to UK power outlets with switches.

These are examples of what they look like in the UK :

B&Q power sockets


These are examples of what they look like in the US:

Home Depot Power outlets


With a switch, you don’t have to unplug anything, you just flick the switch. It’s also so much easier to reach around behind and desk or cabinet and flick a switch than try and unplug. I don’t have a single power outlet in my rented house or the new house with an switch. Why is this?

I did a quick search and couldn’t find any US power outlets with an on / off switch. Do they even exist?
 
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What we have are wall switches that are wired to electrical boxes, so the "switch" and the "plug" are in two different locations. These can be both an asset and a liability. Both the outlets near the master bed are operated by a single wall switch by the door. If you turn off the lamp on the bed-side table, and the wall switch is left on, at bedtime you have to cross a pitch-black room and fumble for the light... I had to hook up a small light that is within reach of the door. Now we've got a phone on the same outlet which doesn't like its power removed, so we've got the switch locked to an "always on" position with a little plastic gizmo Hubby found on the web.

Alternatively, run a bunch of things like that through a power bar that has an integral on/off switch and put it somewhere that's easy to reach?

We do have one outlet that has a toggle switch and a single plug outlet. Ours are wired to do two different things - the switch is a light and the outlet is for whatever we want to plug in which in my case is the incubator the odd time I need it (I much prefer to have ducks or chickens incubate any eggs I want hatched - they occasionally have minds of their own and I'm stuck using technology...) Hubby installed it himself - he's an electrical engineer by training - and I can't remember where he got it from, but quite possibly it was a specialty shop rather than a big box store - it was years ago.  
 
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Search for "switched outlet". Depending on how you wire them, you can switch off another part of the circuit (like a light fixture) while the plug is always live; or you can switch the plug on or off directly.
 
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Just my two cents, probably they are not installed in homes in the US as these would cost more than the usual outlet.

None of our outlets in any home I have ever lived in or owned have had outlets with switches nor did any business I work at.  To tell the truth I have never seen one.

That big box store that you gave the link for would not let me do a search without signing in which was too much trouble.

So I ask Mr. Google about electrical outlets with switches.

From the ones he showed me I can see why they are not installed.  There is only one place to plug something in.  I could not live with that.

Our bedroom only has three outlets.  The one that the TV and DirecTv are plugged into.  One with the air conditioner and a night light.  Then the one that I use as a charging station for two phones and a vacuum cleaner.  Soon Roomba is going to move there, too.  So as you can see I could not live with only one place to plug some things into.

Maybe there are other options that Mr. Google didn't show me.  

For what you are wanting to do we use a surge protector power strip, and even those are full.
 
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This really does seem weird to one used to switched sockets! To me it is bad practice to plug in an appliance without the socket being powered off. Maybe the lower voltage makes it less a problem? So much harder to know whether the socket (and whatever is plugged into it) is powered on or not too.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I agree, they're an unusual item. I'm guessing they are more for retrofits to avoid tearing up finished walls. You can even get GFCIs in this configuration. None of which are cheap relative to standard switches/receptacles.

Being in the country, I mostly use a surge suppressing power bar with a switch to manage vampire loads, which generally are electronics. I suspect most people go this route.

Here's a switched outlet (really a separate switch and outlet in the same box, though you can wire them together):

 
Edward Norton
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Cheers! Looks like I was using the wrong search term and trying to find a rare item. Apologies for the box store links.
 
Jay Angler
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Anne Miller wrote:

From the ones he showed me I can see why they are not installed.  There is only one place to plug something in.  I could not live with that.

There is absolutely no reason that the switch I referred to (which Douglas Alpenstock so kindly found a picture of and posted - thanks!) couldn't be put into a double or triple gang box. So long as the loads plugged in don't over-tax the rating on the switch (the box should give that info - if there are doubts I can ask Hubby to check the info, but he's over-booked today), you could make the one switch turn off multiple sockets.

Something to check, Edward: Hubby re-wired an early 1950's house once because it only had a single grounded plug in the whole place (and if I recall correctly, only 6 15 amp breakers! That could have been his dad's house.) There simply was *no* grounding wire in the outlets. He double-ganged all the plug boxes because it made it infinitely easier to get new 3-wire through the walls. It was above code, but it meant far less wall plastering on a house which was plaster and lath, rather than plaster-board. The twerp individual in an identical house next door, simply replaced the receptacles with 3-prong outlets and wired the grounding wire to the metal box which did absolutely no good and was totally illegal.

Yes, you'll pay a huge premium for the ones that Douglas posted the picture of, but we had a niche spot that benefitted from it and when you're doing all the work yourself, spending more on material doesn't seem so bad. However, what you need to compare is the price for a double gang box with the special switch and 3 plug spots, vs a triple gang box with a standard wall switch controlling 4 plug spots. We didn't have room in the spot we were working in for even a double gang box, so we paid the extra. Any standard two outlet plug can be wired in tandem with a wall switch. If you do too many "not invented here" things, you might want to make little stick-on labels.
This is why I often tell people, "just because you don't *have* to build to a code, doesn't mean you shouldn't/can't build *better* than code". I think the British way is brilliant!
 
Anne Miller
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Jay, the picture Douglas posted is the one that Mr. Google showed me.

The problem that I see is that the examples I gave are all single gang box outlets.

I guess for a remodeling job it is no big deal to change these single gang box outlets to the double or triple gang boxes if the breakers will support them.

When we were finishing the house I thought that we were putting enough outlets in each room.

My problem is that all the outlets are behind furniture where you can't get to them without moving furniture.  And all the outlets are full of plugs.

In the living area, the only outlet we have access to is where the ice maker is plugged in.  We use an extension cord when we use things like the food saver, mixer, etc.

Edward, I hope you find what you are looking for.
 
pollinator
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Edward, for even more fun, the standard duplex outlet (plug socket?) may be split (there's a little tab that connects the two screw terminals on each side of the device) such that one socket could be connected to a light switch, while the other would remain live. This is common in rooms where a table or floor lamp could be controlled by the light switch, and the other used for something else such as a clock or a fan, which might need to stay ON. Wiring also has both date and regional quirks, here in Massachusetts, the bathroom light switch is often outside the room in older houses.

Since you are doing your own renovation, adding a wall switch to switch OFF the outlets for all of your A/V equipment could be easy, for example.

There are now a whole host of "smart devices" which you can switch from an app on your smart phone, which might allow you to do some of what you want. Either manually change it, or set a schedule and rules. I don't have any experience with these yet, but a friend who works odd hours at a hospital, swears by his setup which he adjusts dimming and color to both: not interrupt his sleep, or to reinforce his need to wake.
 
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I can't find the actual outlet now, but I've seen and lived with these in bathrooms and kitchens, as well as finding them in hotel rooms. Here's a plate cover to show what I'm talking about:
e95a9ab7-7249-472e-b997-8da7cd16ef46_1.a52e83c3512cd7330ba1ed8103ed5803.jpeg
[Thumbnail for e95a9ab7-7249-472e-b997-8da7cd16ef46_1.a52e83c3512cd7330ba1ed8103ed5803.jpeg]
 
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