Is It Best To Avoid Power Strips? (Explained)

Power strips are a convenient way to plug in multiple gadgets, but they also come with some downsides.

Some power strips have surge protection, which can help prevent damage from power surges and spikes.

However, not all surge protectors are created equal, so you need to know what you’re buying before you buy it.

Here’s If It’s Best To Avoid Power Strips:

Surge protectors are safer than power strips. By definition, a surge protector is a device that blocks voltage spikes in your electrical system. A power strip is simply an extension cord with multiple outlets. They don’t protect against surges from lightning strikes or bad wiring in your house.

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Loaded power strip

Are Power Strips Considered Safe?

The simple answer is yes — but only if you use them safely. Power strips can be dangerous if you don’t use them properly, and that’s why it’s important to understand how they work and how to use them safely.

Power strips are a popular way to organize and manage multiple cords, but they can also be safety hazards. While power strips can be useful, they can also be dangerous if not used properly.

Power strips are often used in homes and offices to help organize and manage multiple cords. They allow you to plug multiple devices into one outlet, which can save time and energy by reducing the number of outlets needed.

However, power strips aren’t always safe for use. In fact, they can cause electrical fires if not used properly. Here are some reasons why power strips should be avoided:

  • Overloaded Power Strips: Overloading may cause your power strip to overheat or stop working altogether. You should never place more than one or two devices on a single power strip because doing so could cause the unit to overheat and catch fire or electrocute anyone who touches it.
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI): GFCIs protect against electrocution by shutting off when there is an imbalance between current flow through the hot wire and neutral wire (or ground). GFCIs are often found in kitchens, bathrooms, garages and outdoors near pools or spas where there’s more moisture present that could create an imbalance between current flow.
  • They can’t handle large appliances: If you have more than one big-draw device plugged into a single outlet on a standard power strip, the total wattage will be too high for the strip to handle safely. For example, if you plug in a microwave oven and an air conditioner at the same time, the combined wattage could exceed what your strip can handle without overheating or catching fire.
  • They don’t provide protection against voltage spikes: Voltage spikes occur when there’s too much demand on the local electricity grid — usually because of an overload at another location on the grid or an electrical fault somewhere along its path from source to destination. Even if your home’s wiring is fine and there isn’t any damage nearby that could cause a spike, certain kinds of appliances are still vulnerable to voltage spikes even when they’re operating normally.

Should You Use Surge Protectors Instead of Power Strips?

The answer to the question is yes. But, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Surge protectors and power strips are both used to protect electronics from power surges and spikes. However, surge protectors provide better protection for your devices because they monitor the amount of electricity flowing through them, while power strips do not.

A typical power strip will shut off when too much electricity flows through it. This may cause your device to stop working if it needs more electricity to operate than the strip can handle.

On the other hand, a surge protector will monitor how much electricity is flowing through it and shut off only when necessary — like in the event of an imminent surge or spike in voltage. Additionally, surge protectors have an outlet for you to plug in another device into so that it has its own line of defense against surges and spikes.

Surge Protection vs Power Strips

Power strips are designed to make it easier to connect multiple devices to one outlet. They can provide additional outlets if needed, and they also help you manage your cords better by giving you more space on the floor. But they don’t actually protect your equipment from surges or spikes in voltage.

Surge protectors, on the other hand, do offer protection against surges and spikes by providing a buffer between your equipment and the electricity coming out of the wall outlet.

They do this by using metal oxide varistors (MOVs), which are semiconductor devices that act as capacitors — they store electrical energy until it’s needed.

When a surge occurs, MOVs discharge their stored energy through a ground wire back into the power supply system so that it doesn’t cause damage to connected equipment.

Are Power Strips Safer than Extension Cords?

Power strips may be safer than extension cords because they were designed for indoor use, but this does not mean they should be used outside or near water sources such as sinks or bathtubs where they could become damaged by water leakage or splashing.

If you have outdoor power strips, keep them dry and away from sources of water so they do not become damaged by weather exposure or rusting over time.

Power Strips vs Extension Cords

Power strips provide additional outlets with no need for installation, making them convenient for mobile uses like travel or temporary work areas. Power strips can also serve as surge protectors for sensitive electronics such as computers and televisions.

Extension cords are designed for temporary use in homes or businesses with stationary equipment.

They can be used in multiple rooms without plugging into a central power source, although it is easier to move an extension cord from room to room than it is to unplug each appliance individually every time you want to move it.

Here is a blog about should unplug things off before switching them off?

Where Should You Avoid Using Power Strips?

Here are some places where you should avoid using power strips:

  1. In kitchens. If you’re in the middle of cooking dinner, it’s probably not the best time to start unplugging things so that you can plug in a new appliance or device. Kitchen power strips should be used only when there’s no other option available, such as if you have too many appliances running at once and need to make room for another one.
  2. In bathrooms. Bathrooms are wet areas, which means that electrical equipment is likely to get damaged if it gets wet — even accidentally. If you need to plug something into an outlet in your bathroom (for example, a hair dryer), be sure that it has its own waterproof housing so that water doesn’t damage any of its internal components.
  3. In basements or crawl spaces. Basements and crawl spaces are often unheated areas of your home, so they tend to be colder than other rooms in your house during winter months when you need heating more than ever before! This makes them poor locations for installing power strips.
  4. Underneath heavy furniture. Power strips located under heavy furniture can be crushed by weighted items such as desks or bookcases, causing damage to their internal components and possibly resulting in a fire hazard. If you have no other choice but to use one under heavy furniture, make sure it’s free of any sharp edges that could puncture it.

Where Is It Safest to Use a Power Strip?

The safest place to use a power strip is on an extension cord that’s plugged into an outlet on an outside wall. There are two reasons for this:

  • Outlet placement. An exterior outlet is safer than one inside the home, because it’s less likely to be damaged by water leaks or other events that can compromise electrical safety.
  • Extension cords. Using an extension cord allows you to place the strip farther away from your home’s primary electrical wiring, which means there’s less chance of interference between them.

When using a power strip inside your home, keep these tips in mind.

Use surge protectors instead of power strips whenever possible. A surge protector offers more protection against electrical surges than a power strip does — but only if it has enough outlets connected through the right kind of wiring (for instance, coaxial cable or phone line).

If you’re not sure whether your surge protector has these features or not, check with its manufacturer before using it with sensitive electronics like computers and televisions.

Conclusion

While a power strip can be handy, if you want to minimize the risk of electrical fires and power surges, it may be better to unplug electronics when you’re not using them.

At the very least, keep your unused electronics unplugged when they’re not in use.

You can still use power strips, but be sure that all of your plugged-in electronics are completely turned off before you go to bed or head out for the day.

Read our blog here about can power strips be plugged into extension cords?

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