Get in Control of Plug Loads and Receptacles

Get in Control of Plug Loads and Receptacles

In this modern age, it feels like we’re constantly getting more and more gadgets that require wall receptacle power. While crowded wall outlets are increasingly common, what’s less understood is the potential to save energy by controlling what we’re plugging in. One simple and efficient way to improve energy efficiency is Receptacle Control, also known as Plug Load Control, which automatically turns off plug loads when a space is vacated.

Plug Loads and Receptacles

What are Plug Loads?
Plug loads include devices that plug into a standard electrical outlet, often called “standby” or “vampire” loads. Products not in use or on standby account for as much as 25 percent of total electrical consumption in commercial buildings. These products typically still draw power even in an off state. Examples include:

  • Task lighting
  • Computers
  • Monitors
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Personal fans/heaters
  • A/V equipment
  • Small appliances (toasters, coffee makers)

Any electronic devices that can be switched off at night without causing harmful consequences are perfect candidates for plug load control.


Meet the Codes
It’s not just smart, it’s the code! Energy codes now require Receptacle Control or Plug Load Control. Both ASHRAE Standard 90.1 2010 and California Title 24 2013 require controlled receptacles to have the same automatic shutoff function as lighting using either occupancy sensing or schedule based control. Plug-in strips and devices cannot be used for code compliance. Title 24 also requires the controlled receptacles to be permanently marked to differentiate them from uncontrolled receptacles.

Plug Loads and Receptacles

Receptacle Control Strategies

Occupancy Sensing Based Receptacle Control
Controls that monitor a space’s state of occupancy and will energize and de-energize a controlled receptacle based on occupancy. Learn more about Leviton Occupancy Sensors.

Schedule Based Sensing Control
Controls that allow the user to set the day and time that a circuit will be energized and de-energized. Options include the Integrated Room Control (IRC), EZ-MAX Plus and GreenMAX

Plug Loads and Receptacles

ASHRAE 90.1-2010
Automatic Receptacle Control

  • At least 50% of all receptacles must be controlled by an automatic control device:
    • An occupancy sensor that will turn receptacles off within 30 minutes of all occupants leaving a space
    • A scheduled basis using a time-of-day operated control device that turns receptacles off at specific programmed times
    • Plug-in strips and devices cannot be used for compliance - the receptacle must be controlled


California Title 24 2013
Section 130.5 Electrical Power Distribution Systems – Circuit Controls for 120 VAC Receptacles

  • Both controlled and uncontrolled 120V receptacles shall be provided in each private office, open office area, reception lobby, conference room, kitchenette in office spaces, and copy room
  • Electric circuits serving controlled receptacles must be equipped with automatic shutoff controls such as occupancy sensors or an automatic time switch
  • A controlled receptacle must be installed within 6 feet of each uncontrolled receptacle or a split duplex receptacle with one controlled and one uncontrolled receptacle can be installed
  • Controlled receptacles must have a permanent marking to differentiate them from uncontrolled receptacles
  • Hotel and motel guest rooms require at least 50 percent of receptacles to be auto off via an occupancy sensor, captive key switch, or automatic control so they are off within 30 minutes of vacancy
  • Plug-in strips and devices cannot be used for compliance


Leviton Receptacle and Lighting Control Solutions

Whatever your marked “controlled” receptacle needs may be, Leviton is your one-stop solution provider.

Marked Controlled Receptacles and Labels

Largest offering of marked controlled receptacles - choose top or duplex marking

Receptacle and Lighting Control with OPP20 Super Duty Power Pack

Robust and reliable with mechanical latching relays and industry-exclusive “fail-safe” design


For more on Receptacle Control and to download our Receptacle Control Guide, visit

Plug Loads and Receptacles