simple definition

An outlet is a point on the electrical wiring system where electrical current is taken to supply equipment. An outlet can be a wall receptacle, light fixture, smoke detector, and an appliance. A wall switch is not since no current is taken at a switch; current is simply passing through.


A device carries or controls electricity but does not utilize electricity. A switch is a device. A thermostat is a device. A light fixture is not.


So… would you consider a dimmer a device or outlet?


device, but I’m not sure. I’m asking for confirmation about the electrical definitions and examples of “outlet” and “device.” I don’t have the NEC Code book with definitions in front of me.

You’re correct on your definitions.
Device-- A device carries or controls electricity as it’s principal function.

Although you can just say ‘equipment’ and it will cover pretty much everything dealing with an electrical installation (if you ever get confused down the line).:slight_smile:


Also… I was just being a smarta$$ about the dimmer since it basically turns into a heater/hand warmer.:slight_smile:


Controller. A device or group of devices that serves to govern, in some predetermined manner, the electric power delivered to the apparatus to which it is connected.

It is a controller or a switch which controls or governs the current flowing to the light.

Lighted switches are the only switching device in common use that is also an outlet.

The delineation between the definition of a switch as a device and a switch as a possible outlet only becomes an issue in the case of a switch in bedrooms areas that control outlets outside of the bedroom area. An example of which would be a switch inside the bedroom that do the lights on the deck outside the bedroom’s exterior French doors. People puzzle on whether to AFCI protect this circuit, since the switch is in the bedroom, but the actual outlet (the lights) are outdoors. In this case, unless it’s a lighted switch, the switch is not an outlet and not required to be AFCI protected.

Yes you are correct. The switch and thernostat are controllers and the definitions is in the post above.

They are devices

No, I don’t agree. An outlet is the point where current is taken, not the device/appliance itself. It is merely an opening in the system where current is taken. That is how I read it. It could be a ceiling box with a blank cover.

Not wanting to get so deep into this that it becomes confusing to the reader but it is possible that a junction box with a blank cover would not be an outlet.

The thinking of lighting fixtures, smoke alarms, and even a device such as a receptacle are outlets.

Outlet. A point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment.

Every receptacle would fit this description as we do plug a piece of equipment into a receptacle.
Receptacle Outlet. An outlet where one or more receptacles are installed.

A box with a light fixture would also be an outlet,
Lighting Outlet. An outlet intended for the direct connection of a lampholder or luminaire.

A junction box could possibly not be an outlet if it was just being used as a pull box and no equipment was being supplied from that box.

In reality, the original poster is asking for the impossible, a “simple definition” from the Code.:mrgreen: