Do Power Strips Need Ventilation? (Explained)

Power strips are designed to be used in areas where there are lots of electronic devices, such as computers and televisions. 

However, many people wonder if power strips need ventilation. This is a valid question because many times you want to use a power strip in a tight space or hide them under/behind something as they are not too pretty to look at.

In addition to this lack of airflow, many people also wonder if these appliances produce heat when they are running at full capacity.

In this article today I will talk to you about power strips and whether they need ventilation or not.

Do Power Strips Need Ventilation?

Power strips don’t need ventilation but they need to be able to get rid of heat. Home’s wiring is designed to handle the heat generated by your electronic devices, as long as they’re properly installed and maintained, but power strips should never be covered or hidden.

Fire in overloaded power strip isolated white background

Do Power Strips Need Space and Ventilation?

The short answer is yes: power strips do need space and ventilation.

In fact, according to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), “placing a power strip where it will be exposed to excessive heat or moisture may cause fire or electric shock.”

This includes areas near water sources such as bathtubs or sinks, as well as areas where there’s an accumulation of dust and debris.

Also, power strips need to be able to get rid of excess heat.

How Much Space Do Power Strips Need?

The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that you leave about 6 inches of space on each side of your power strip when you plug it into an outlet.

This will allow air flow around the device so that it can dissipate heat more easily.

It’s also important to keep a distance between any other objects and your power strip because if something falls into the open socket, it could cause damage to your home electronics or even start a fire.

How Can You Properly Ventilate Your Power Strip?

Power strips can be a fire hazard if they aren’t properly ventilated.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that power strips be installed so that all components are at least 6 inches away from any wall or surface and have an unobstructed airflow of at least 3 inches between the strip and the wall.

To ensure your safety and prevent fires, follow these tips on how to properly ventilate your power strip:

  • Unplug the power strip from the wall when not in use. This will help prevent any potential fires from starting while you’re away from home or when you’re sleeping. Keep in mind that some electronics continue to draw current even when turned off or unplugged, so don’t rely on just unplugging them to keep them safe!
  • If possible, place your power strip away from furniture and other flammable items. This will limit the chances of starting a fire if something does go wrong with your electronics.
  • Don’t overload your power strip with too many devices at once. If you have more than one device plugged into each socket on your power strip and they all start drawing electricity at once (for example, if you turn on all of your lights at once), then this could overload the outlet and potentially cause a fire as well as damage.
  • Use an Extension Cord When Possible. If you need to use only one appliance make sure to use a good-quality extension cord rather than daisy-chaining several smaller ones or using multiple power strips.

Read our blog here about 3 reasons when power strips stop working.

Can Overloaded Power Strips in Small Spaces Catch Fire?

Overloaded power strips are more likely to catch fire according to a recent report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The CPSC estimates that there are 15,000 residential fires each year caused by overloaded power strips and extension cords. Faulty wiring or poor design, which makes it difficult for people to tell if their power strip is overloaded or not can start these fires.

Why Does Overloading Cause Fires?

The main reason that overloaded power strips catch fire is that they’re not designed to handle the load.

When too much current flows through a device, it can cause overheating and short circuits that lead to sparks and fires.

Should you use metal or plastic power strips and extension cords?

Power strips come with ratings that tell you how many amps they can handle and how many watts they can deliver at one time.

If you try to plug something into your power strip that uses more than its rated capacity, the electrical wires inside will overheat and start smoking — which could lead to an electrical fire in your home or office.

Plastic power strips and/or extension cords won’t conduct electricity if an internal inside gets a short, BUT today electricians and professionals advise using power strips made of metal.

Good Smart power strips are found here (on Amazon) at a low price and they can save you HUNDREDS of dollars per year on your energy bill!

They work in a very easy and simple way:

1) Plug in anything that should be on at all times in the “always on” sockets (such as lamps, fridges, door bells, etc.).

2) Plug the TV or Computer into “control”. Anything plugged in here will control when the others are off.

3) plugin TV-dependent gear into “Switched outlets” (can also called “controlled by master) – they’ll power down when the TV or Computer is turned off.

Also, a metal case will contain a fire whereas a plastic case will not.

Where Should You Place a Power Strip?

You should place power strips where they are visible so they can get rid of excess heat. This will also make it easier to remember to unplug them when they’re not needed anymore. You shouldn’t plugin in power strips permanently.

An overheating power strip can be a fire hazard and can also damage your electronics. In order to avoid this problem, you should know where to place your power strip.

The best place for your power strip is on the floor or at the base of your desk near where it plugs into an outlet.

If you have multiple items that need charging, consider getting a long power strip so that you can plug everything in without having cords running all over your desk.

If you have multiple devices that need charging at once, then it’s better to buy a surge protector with built-in overload protection which will automatically cut off power when the current exceeds its capacity.

Another thing to remember is that each device has different specifications so choose one that meets all your needs.

Where Should You NOT Place a Power Strip?

Here are some places where it’s NOT safe to place a power strip:

  • Behind furniture or appliances.
  • In an enclosed space (like under a desk).
  • Under carpets
  • In front of an air conditioner or heater.

When you place something on the floor, it becomes an obstacle where people could trip over it or trip into it while they’re walking around.

Moisture is also a bad idea because when it comes into contact with electricity, it can cause burns or shocks. If you want to protect your home from electrical fires and other dangers, don’t put your power strips near water sources like sinks or bathtubs.

Check out our blog here about how long can power strips last?


So yes, power strips do need ventilation, and thus you should try to keep these devices from being blocked or covered up.

But the good news is that you really can’t go wrong on this one—if you’re living in an area where it gets pretty hot or humid in the summer, just be sure to leave your power strips some breathing room.

If you live in a place that’s more temperate year-round, then just plug and unplug as necessary. Your gadgets are likely to live longer.


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