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I noticed some outlets have screw holes in the center, other outlets do not. What is the exact terminology/name for outlets types with holes in center? These are the kinds I need, just curious.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell from the name.

Left one below :

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3 Answers 3

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At this point in time they are both considered duplex outlets. The square ones usually have the word "decor" or "decorator" in the description, and became a decorator item in the 80's. The ones with the hole in the center, for mounting the cover plate have been around since Adam, and have no actual name. The ones you want are readily available everywhere.

Note: There's actually no name for the ones with the hole in the center. They were the standard and just called two prong outlets, then three prong outlets when grounds came around. Leviton's square outlets were branded "Decora". Other manufacturers used decor or decorator for their description. As far as the comment about decora being the outlet with the center hole, I've never heard that being the case. Don't flag it, not professional. If others disagree with it, they won't up vote it.

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  • so the square ones are called decor, so to answer the question then what are the ones with the hole in the center called?
    – mattsmith5
    Oct 16, 2021 at 23:22
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    @mattsmith5 There's actually no name for the ones with the hole in the center. They were the standard and just called two prong outlets, then three prong outlets when grounds came around. Leviton's square outlets were branded "Decora". Other manufacturers used decor or decorator for their description. As far as the comment about decora being the outlet with the center hole, I've never heard that being the case. Don't flag it, not professional. If others disagree with it, they won't up vote it.
    – JACK
    Oct 16, 2021 at 23:49
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    The screw hole in the center actually has a useful purpose: you can securely mount 6 outlet extenders like this: amazon.com/GE-Adapter-Outlets-Bathroom-50759/dp/B0009HKEXM?th=1 . I'd love to understand if there is an equivalent concept for decora outlets! Jul 5, 2022 at 11:08
  • The useful purpose is that this is how cover plates were usually mounted. The octopus adapters (which are often a Bad Idea) just take advantage of that since it already existed.
    – keshlam
    Feb 1, 2023 at 14:57
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To clarify a bit:

The traditional style goes back a long time. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how long, but sometime in the early 20th century. This includes the "duplex with a screw in the middle" for receptacles and a small slot for a simple toggle switch for lighting (can be used for appliances too).

Sometime in the 1970s, Leviton started selling Decora switches and receptacles. Unfortunately, I am having trouble finding an exact date. The Leviton history page has it lumped into the "1970s - 1980s" section. I first recall seeing a Decora light switch in 1980.

The neat thing about Decora is it provides a fairly large "do anything with it" rectangle. For a light switch, that means a nice big surface to press (unless split into 2 or 3 switches). For receptacles, that means no screw in the middle. But I think the most common reason to switch to Decora (or to any equivalent size from any other manufacturer) is GFCI. A typical GFCI duplex receptacle has the TEST/RESET buttons right where the screw and middle piece of the cover would be. It just doesn't work with the traditional style. And once you change one receptacle for GFCI, it is only natural to start changing others to use the same style, and in the end having one style cover plate is actually a good thing.

Electrically, assuming there is no GFCI involved, there is no difference between the traditional duplex receptacle and Decora-style duplex receptacle, or between the traditional "flip switch" and a Decora-style switch.

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  • Interestingly, when I stayed in a rather run down accomodation block in Canada a few years ago, they had sockets with much smaller openings in the plate, small enough that they were a litte scary to use because the pins of the plug were very nearly touching the plate. Feb 1, 2023 at 20:38
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I believe it is called Screw Catch. I saw it on an outlet and looked it up. There is a patent on it. Or at least one was applied for by Cooper/Eagle. It is at least trademarked. Apparently this version of it came out in 1997. I am sure there is better information, but I haven't looked any further just yet. Just do a web search for Screw Catch TM.

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    Welcome to Home Improvement. If you'll take the tour and browse the help center, you'll note that we like solid answers here that are more than just "do a web search". If you can edit some supporting information into your answer to indicate that A) This is called a "screw catch" outlet, and B) back up your statement that it only came out in 1997, that would add a lot to this answer. I do believe that the "standard" duplex receptacle with a hole for the face plate screw between the receptacles came out rather a bit before 1997 (Hint: I installed some in the late 80s.)
    – FreeMan
    Feb 1, 2023 at 12:32
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    "Screw catch" refers to a method of holding the screw in place during installation. Not clear whether it is from the faceplate side (which I have definitely used - saves an annoying 10 seconds per faceplate) or from the receptacle side (as seems to be indicated by some of the documents on the patent - but I don't have time to look through them all right now). But the form factor of the standard non-Decora duplex hasn't changed in about a century. Feb 1, 2023 at 15:11

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