8 Things You Should Never Plug Into a Power Strip
Whether you live in a house, apartment, condo, mobile home, RV, or dorm room, having sufficient electrical outlets to handle all the accessories, appliances, and tools you need can be challenging. And that’s when knowing how to use a power strip device safely sure comes in handy.
While one of these devices can offer a reasonable solution for too few wall outlets, relying too much on typical household power strips is a mistake. Or to misuse one. Never plug these items into a power strip for safety.
You need ’em hot and ready to go. A power strip on the bathroom counter may seem like a godsend when you have only that one outlet.
Here’s the problem with that: Hairdryers, curling wands, and flat irons are required to produce heat, which means they pull large amounts of amperage to get them good and hot. Plugging into a power strip is just asking for trouble.
These types of hairdressing appliances must be plugged directly into a wall outlet, preferably with a GFCI breaker, to avoid danger should those tools accidentally be exposed to water.
Refrigerator and Freezer
These appliances pull too much current for a power strip because they continuously cycle on and off. That will quickly overload a power strip. Refrigerators and freezers must be plugged directly into a wall outlet dedicated to that single appliance. If you plug other appliances into that same outlet, provided it’s a duplex, you risk tripping a breaker.
Seems pretty lightweight to heat up water, right? Not so fast. Most coffee makers need a good deal of amperage to turn gloriously roasted coffee beans into a hot beverage—more than a power strip can guarantee to deliver. Make sure you plug the machine directly into a wall outlet.
Here’s the clue: It has exposed wires inside those slots that heat up read hot. It takes a lot of electrical current to fire up those wires, which can easily overload a power strip. So no. Do not plug your toaster into an extension cord or power strip. Ditto for your toaster oven.
I agree that this is counterintuitive because wouldn’t you think a slow cooker uses microscopic bits of power? In this case, it’s not the amount of amperage but the length of time requiring continuous power. A power strip cannot guarantee to deliver that kind of energy. Plug the slow cooker safely into a wall outlet before you set it and forget it.
It seems like a minor appliance, right? Wrong! All of its miraculous features like defrosting, heating, cooking, and reheating require a lot of energy—far more than a power strip can offer. Your microwave oven needs its own dedicated wall outlet, too.
Like refrigerators and freezers, portable heaters cycle on and off. When they switch on, they take a tremendous amount of current—more than a power strip is up to delivering consistently and safely. We’re talking about dangerously overheating the system, which could result in a fire. Space heaters must always be plugged into their own wall outlet.
Another Power Strip
Power strips do not play well together. While it might seem smart to plug one power strip into another as a way of multiplying the number of outlets available, it’s really dumb—super dangerous. It violates every fire safety code out there.
Quick Checklist of Do’s and Don’ts
Power strips are fine in moderation, and as long as you observe proper power strip safety. The folks at Kolb Electric offer us this handy Do and Don’t checklist so we can know when and how to use a power strip safely:
- Only use light-load appliances on power strips like computers, phones, lamps, clocks, etc.
- Purchase power strips with an internal circuit breaker. This is a very important safety measure designed to prevent property loss and risks of fire.
- Use power strips sparingly. They aren’t designed to maintain a load for extended periods of time and can overheat quickly if used too frequently.
- Never plug a power strip into another power strip (referred to in the industry as “daisy chaining”). Doing this is a great way to short out appliances, or drastically increase the risk of an electrical emergency.
- Avoid using power strips in damp or potentially wet areas. No kitchens, no utility rooms, and definitely no basements.
- Stop using a power strip if it feels hot. That isn’t supposed to happen!
- Never cover, staple, tack, or nail a power strip to anything. Covering can smother the strip, and provide ample flammable material in the event of failure. Stapling can harm the cords, making room for dangerous situations.
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I recently came across your article on things that should never be plugged into a power strip, and I wanted to express my gratitude for sharing these important safety tips with your readers. Your article serves as a valuable reminder of the potential risks associated with overloading power strips and the importance of using them responsibly.
I recently came across your article titled “8 Things Never to Plug into a Power Strip” on the Everyday Cheapskate website, and I wanted to express my appreciation for sharing this important information. Your article serves as a valuable reminder for readers about the potential risks associated with using power strips and highlights the items that should not be plugged into them to ensure safety and prevent electrical hazards.
Here are a few key points from your article that resonated with me:
1. Overloading and Fire Hazards: I appreciate your emphasis on the risk of overloading power strips and the potential fire hazards that can result from this. By explaining the limited power capacity of power strips and the importance of not exceeding their maximum load, you help readers understand the significance of distributing their electrical devices appropriately across multiple outlets.
2. High-Powered Appliances: Your warning about avoiding the connection of high-powered appliances, such as space heaters, refrigerators, or air conditioners, to power strips is crucial. These appliances draw significant amounts of power and can overload the strip, leading to overheating and potential fire hazards. Directly plugging these appliances into a dedicated wall outlet ensures a safer and more reliable power supply.
3. Surge Protectors vs. Power Strips: Your clarification on the difference between surge protectors and power strips is valuable. While power strips provide additional outlets, they do not offer surge protection. Understanding this distinction helps readers make informed choices when selecting the appropriate devices for their electrical needs and safeguards against potential damage caused by power surges.
4. Extension Cords: I appreciate your mention of avoiding the use of extension cords with power strips. Extension cords are not designed to handle the power load of multiple devices simultaneously and can pose a fire hazard if overloaded. Directly plugging devices into the power strip eliminates the need for additional extension cords, ensuring safer electrical connections.
5. Space and Ventilation: Your recommendation to provide adequate space and ventilation around power strips is an important reminder. Overcrowding the power strip or covering it with items can restrict airflow and lead to heat buildup, increasing the risk of overheating and potential fire hazards. Ensuring proper airflow and keeping the area around the power strip clear of obstructions is a simple yet effective safety measure.
Overall, your article provides valuable insights and guidance to readers about the safe use of power strips. By potentially expanding on the topic and discussing additional safety tips, such as inspecting power strips for damage, using surge protectors for sensitive electronics, or educating readers on the importance of regular electrical inspections, you can further enhance the article’s utility and comprehensiveness.
Thank you for sharing this important information, and I look forward to reading more helpful articles on the Everyday Cheapskate website.
Our heat went out over Thanksgiving. It took a week before they could come out and fix our heat. We used space heaters only in our bedrooms. Our space heaters wouldn’t allow us to plug into a power strip or extension cord for some reason. We had to plug it into a wall socket. I didn’t know that they couldn’t be plugged into a power strip (we had never used one but we did have a few in the shop for such a reason). They worked very well at keeping us warmish during 30 degree weather. We were glad we had them.
Not all space heaters have that protective feature, but it’s good. Plugging a space heater into a household power strip is just asking for a terrible outcome. There exist heavy-duty extension cords and powerstrips for use in construction. You might want to look into getting one for your emergency preparedness collection. just make sure it can plug into a 110V outlet. That’s the kicker. Most construction equipment is rated for 220V. So happy to know you were prepared.
This is blatant scare-mongering. I’ve been plugging power bars into other power bars for years, and I’ve never had a problem. My apartment has a total of FOUR electrical outlets in it. Three of them are in the kitchen. That isn’t even close to meeting my needs, so I’ve got about 20 power bars that keep me powered. I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve never even noticed any power bars getting hot.
You’re dancing with the devil, Paul! Be careful out there!