Power strip safety is an area of major concern for the insurance industry during the holiday season. As homeowners install decorative lights on their homes and Christmas trees, they suddenly discover they lack sufficient outlets to handle the additional power demands.
The easy solution? The good-old, reliable power strip.
What is a power strip?
A power strip in its simplest form is nothing more than an extension cord with more than one outlet. Many power strips now provide surge protection and battery backup. Electrical surges caused by brownouts and the like could cause severe damage to computers, televisions, modems, and cable boxes. With an advanced power strip, these power surges are blocked, and your expensive electrical equipment is protected.
Even worse is the electrical damage caused by a complete loss of power, followed by a sudden restoration of power. Computer motherboards, hard drives, and other delicate electronic devices can suffer extensive damage, if not complete destruction, rendering you unable to retrieve valuable information or watch your favorite show. With power strips, you can turn a two-plug outlet into as many as ten or twelve outlets. Thus, you can add more light strings inside and outside the house.
What’s the danger?
The fact is your normal two-plug outlet was only designed to handle the load from two electrical devices, not four, six, or ten. Adding additional electrical devices using power strips places additional strain on home wiring systems not designed to handle additional loads. Also, many homes and apartments still carry two-prong wired outlets, requiring device owners to use three-prong adapters so they can enjoy their modern equipment.
What happens to overloaded power strips?
Take a look at this graphic of an actual overloaded power strip.
This overloaded power strip actually began to melt. With just a bit more damage, this overloaded power strip would catch fire, leading to the destruction of a home or business.
Don’t plug these appliances into power strips
Powerful appliances should never be plugged into a power strip and you might be surprised which appliances count.
1. Space heater.
Portable heaters cycle on and off, with each on-cycle drawing a surge of current. If plugged into a power strip, this surge usually causes an overload, which can cause a fire.
Requires a dedicated high-voltage wall outlet.
3. Slow cooker.
These common appliances may not draw surges of power, but they use power continuously over long periods. Plug them into wall outlets instead.
4. Toaster and toaster oven.
Those red-hot coils inside don’t heat up without a lot of current, which can quickly overload a power strip.
5. Hairdryer, curling iron.
These draw significant amperage to get hot — too much for a power strip.
6. Coffee maker.
All it does is heat up water. But it does it with a lot of amps. It is misleadingly simple. Always plug it into the wall.
What is the alternative?
Renters have little say concerning the quality of the wiring in their homes or apartment.
Homeowners should hire only licensed electricians to completely rewire their homes, compliant with current building codes. One of my clients chose for their electrician to completely rewire their home when they purchased fit in 2012, and that work, as well as plumbing, heating, and roofing upgrades, proved beneficial in qualifying for a lower home insurance premium. Also, the homeowner enjoyed the peace of mind of knowing their home would be free of many problems for years to come.
So, in closing, the safe use of power strips can be beneficial. Just don’t go overboard with the number of devices plugged into them.
Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., is an NYS-licensed independent insurance agent and broker.
Call him at 718-489-2218 or email him at [email protected] to solve your home, auto, flood, life, disability, and auto insurance needs.
You can also follow his website at https://greavesinsurance.com for more information regarding personal insurance.