I tend put a lot of effort into select products.

I am searching for recommendations on good quality duplex-outlet and how much I should consider paying for it.

At the local box store, I can purchase a duplex-outlet for as little as $0.59 or as much as $8-$10 or maybe more. (Excluding GFCI and AFCI). I don't trust the $0.59 outlets in my own home. Not sure I really need to pay $20 for a standard duplex-outlet just for piece-of-mind.

Tamper Resistance (TR) seems to be the main requirement. So I bought a Tamper Resistant (TR) duplex-outlet and it was a bear to insert a plug. I bought another TR duplex-outlet, and the plug seems to fall out a little. I think I paid about $3.50 or so for the second one.

The Leviton 20 Amp Industrial Grade Weather/Tamper Resistant Self Grounding Duplex Outlet, White seem like a quality product.

I wish there was a "Consumer Reports" type organization to recommend/guidance on these types of things.

  • Electricians have to do a free "go-back" (revisit the customer) if anything fails. Electricians are in the business of not doing go-backs. Needless to say, they will not tolerate a shop that sells them junk. The big-box, on the other hand, have consumers so hypnotized that they could sell lumps of clay shaped like an outlet if the government didn't force them to sell UL-listed (as safe) items. Worse, consumers would keep coming back because they literally do not know where else to shop. A proper electrical supply house is where. Follow the electrician's trucks :) Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 17:15

2 Answers 2


Receptacle grades 101 (for North Americans)

As you have noticed, North American wiring devices, such as receptacles and wall switches, come in multiple grades, each with an associated pricetag. While there aren't hard standards on what each grade means until you reach the upper echelons, most manufacturers have settled on a basic system that goes like follows, from cheapest/chintziest to best built/tested:

  1. Builder or residential grade. These are the $.59 outlets that you find on special at the big-box stores, and are also what are used by builders wiring tract houses (in order to keep prices down). As a result, while they meet the UL specification for receptacles, they generally just slide by, instead of exceeding it by a large margin. However, they can give acceptable performance over time for a lightly-used receptacle if wired using properly torqued side screws. Just don't use the "backstab" wiring features these receptacles provide!
  2. Specification or "spec" grade, also known as commercial or construction grade. This is the next step up from a builder-grade receptacle, and generally cost $2-$5 a piece. These receptacles ditch the dreaded "backstabs" in favor of using a screw-and-clamp backwiring system that does a far better job of holding wire, in addition to generally being more robust. They're what you'll find in places like office buildings, schools, and such, although they certainly are not out of place in a residential setting either. They also offer a broader variety of options (receptacle types and so forth) than builder-grade parts do.
  3. Industrial (heavy-duty) grade. These are the next step up from a spec grade receptacle, and are found in industrial environments and other highly abusive places, as their name implies. As a result, they have extra-high-impact plastic parts and improved contact systems over their spec-grade counterparts, in order to withstand not only mechanical abuse, but industrial-level electrical abuse as well, such as repeated motor surge currents. This is where you get into paying $10-$20 a receptacle, as well.
  4. Hospital grade. Finally, we get to the beasts of the receptacle world, those meant for some of the roughest use possible: hospitals. Hospitals are notoriously rough on equipment, and also place high demands on the safety of electrical equipment due to just how vulnerable you are to being zapped when you're opened up on an operating room table. As a result, these receptacles receive extra abuse testing as part of the UL listing process in order to get their Hospital Grade designation, and will be marked specially with a green dot on the face in order to denote them as Hospital Grade parts. Interestingly enough, they aren't as costly as industrial grade parts, either, only running somewhere in the $5-$10 range.

(You'll also run into what are called Federal Specification, or Fed Spec, wiring devices; these are basically something that's received a bit of extra UL testing to make sure it meets the standards the US government has set for the receptacles it puts in its own buildings. Generally, any decent commercial/specification grade receptacle should be Fed Spec as well, although not all are.)


There isn't a universal "best" device for all applications. Every application has specific requirements and we pick a device that best meets the needs in a specific application.

For a seldom-used location, such as the outlet behind the dresser in a bedroom, those cheap outlets are not unreasonable. (Just don't use the back stab connectors.) I'd dare say that most of the outlets in a US home don't see very many insertion-removal cycles and don't see heavy loads (current); the low cost options are reasonable for these applications.

For high-use or hard-use locations, on the other hand.. definitely pay the money for the higher grade device! I prefer the devices marked "Commercial" for use in the kitchen, bathroom, workshop/garage, and wherever the portable vacuum cleaner is routinely plugged in.

The tamper resistance feature is a matter of local code requirement. As you noticed, they're not the most pleasant to use. The mechanism covering the slots can make insertion difficult. It also takes up some depth and as a result the electrical terminals inside make some compromises -- this is probably why in the one "the plug seems to fall out a little." Personally, I'll choose a non-tamper-resistant device whenever I'm allowed to.

Other features like weather resistance may be valuable for a device installed outdoors -- but at minimum this feature will add extra cost, and may also impair usability, so I wouldn't choose a weather resistant device for use anywhere in the house.

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