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The variety of receptacles offered by manufacturers is mind-boggling. There are more than 1,000 different types and they vary in electrical rating, style, color, sizes, and configurations. Although many look the same, they’re not. Each one serves a distinct purpose or meets a specific need. You may have seen outlets with little markings on them and thought, “what does an orange triangle on an outlet mean” anyway? We’re happy to explain!

Man wearing grey tee shirt standing with a wondering facial expression and posture

What Does an Orange Triangle on an Outlet Mean?

The most common places you’ll see outlets with this marking is in:

  • Industrial and high-tech commercial buildings.
  • Hospital and other healthcare facilities like labs.
  • Sound recording studios.

Though they’re not generally used or necessary in residential applications, the proliferation of home theaters and media systems are making them more common in homes.

So, what are they? They’re called isolated ground receptacles (IGRs) and they’re used to reduce electrical noise. They do a great job, but only when installed correctly. Install one incorrectly and you could be looking at serious risk. The NEC has detailed instructions covered under Code section 250.146 for installing IGRs and they should be precisely followed.

How IGRs are Different

Conventional receptacles are ground to the receptacle’s ground screw. If the circuit that feeds the receptacle includes metal conduit and electrical boxes, the outlet can also be grounded to its box.

IGRs are bonded directly to the service entrance grounding system. This results in strong protection of equipment that draws power from the IGR device. If you want protection against electronic noise and voltage spikes, an IGR is your best choice.

Do You Need an IGR?

If you’re a commercial contractor, an experienced commercial electrician can help you determine if one is required or would be helpful. For homeowners, there are other options to eliminate electrical noise that don’t require installing IGRs:

  • A dedicated circuit can run wire to an outlet that services only one piece of equipment or appliance.
  • A power strip dedicated to a computer and its peripherals and plugged into a single outlet is typically all you need.

Keep in mind, too, that newer homes generally use nonmetallic cable and plastic electrical boxes, so you have an isolated ground system and don’t need an IGR receptacle.

Commercial Electrical Installations

For 25 years, Spyrka Electric has provided electrical installations, repairs, code violation corrections, routine maintenance, and safety inspections for commercial building owners throughout Marin and Sonoma Counties. Our commercial electricians are highly skilled professionals who have the knowledge and training to handle all commercial electrical projects including lighting design, networking, security systems, and more.

To learn more about isolated ground receptacles or to obtain an estimate for commercial electrical services, contact us today by phone, email, or online so we can discuss your options and get started on performing the electrical installation and repair services that will keep your business running more efficiently and cost-effectively.

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