Can Power Strips Be Plugged Into Extension Cords?

We’ve all seen the warnings on the power strip packaging that say you can’t plug a power strip into an extension cord. But can you? And if so, why not?

Well, there are good reasons to follow these instructions, and they have to do with safety and convenience.

In this article we will discuss power strips and if they can be plugged into an extension cord.

Here’s If Powe Strips Can Be Plugged into Extension Cords:

Power strips can be used with extension cords, but there are some considerations to keep in mind when using them together. The reason for this is that the long wires in an extension cord can cause voltage drop, which means that your devices will receive less power than they need.

Power extension cord in use isolated on white background.

You may have heard that power strips should not be plugged into extension cords. This is not true. In fact, it is perfectly safe to plug your power strip into an extension cord as long as both pieces of equipment meet safety standards and the power strip is capable of handling the wattage load.

Should You Plug a Power Strip into an Extension Cord?

Power strips can be useful in a variety of situations, but you may want to think twice about plugging one into an extension cord.

The main reason why you shouldn’t do this is because there’s no way to control the amount of power that goes through the extension cord. That means that if you’re using a power strip with multiple devices, they could potentially draw more power than what the extension cord can handle.

When too much current passes through an extension cord, it can cause overheating or even a fire. This is especially true if you’re plugging multiple devices into a single outlet and one of them malfunctions or breaks down — then all of your other devices are going to start drawing power from that same outlet.

You should also avoid using an extension cord as a substitute for a grounded three-pronged outlet if you have sensitive electronics or appliances that need grounding for safety reasons (e.g., computers, TVs and microwaves).

Power strips are designed to be plugged into a wall outlet and then have multiple devices plugged into them. This way, there’s only one point of failure in the circuit.

Extension cords are designed to be run from a wall outlet through the wall (and sometimes even across the floor) to another outlet that’s farther away than you could get with just an extension cord alone. They’re not intended to be used as part of a circuit with multiple outlets.

It’s not a good idea to plug a power strip into an extension cord. But if you’re going to do it anyway, here are some things you should know:

  • Don’t use an extension cord with a heavy-duty appliance or tool. This includes any tool that draws more than 15 amps at 120 volts or 20 amps at 240 volts. If you don’t know what kind of current your tool draws, look for the amperage rating on the cord or in its user manual. Don’t exceed that limit.
  • Don’t plug multiple devices into one outlet strip. Each outlet strip has its own circuit and fuse or breaker that protects against fire hazards and power surges. If you overload those circuits by plugging too many devices into one outlet strip, they could overheat and catch fire.
  • Never use an extension cord as permanent wiring for a device like a refrigerator or washing machine because it takes too much current for one wire to handle safely (and also because doing so can void your appliance’s warranty).

Is It Better to Plug a Power Strip into a Wall Outlet?

Yes, it is better to plug a power strip into a wall outlet instead of an extension cord. The reason is that the power strip has its own circuit breaker, unlike an extension cord which does not have one.

This means that if there is any surge or overload in your circuit, the power strip will cut off the current and stop it from reaching your appliances.

This is good for your appliances because they will not get damaged by too much voltage.

Can You Plug a Power Strip into Another Power Strip?

It’s possible to plug one power strip into another (or even two or three), but it’s not recommended for safety reasons.

The reason why it’s generally discouraged to plug a power strip into another is that it can create a fire hazard. In order to avoid this, follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t use multiple extension cords or power strips together. Instead of using multiple extension cords or power strips, consider purchasing a longer cord or cord with more outlets.
  • Don’t overload any one outlet with too many devices. The maximum amount of electrical current that should be running through any one outlet is 15 amps; however, most outlets are only rated for 10 amps. If you plan on using multiple devices on one outlet (especially high-power ones), then you may need more outlets than just one.

There are some important things to remember when doing this though:

  • You must use the same voltage rating on both strips to avoid damage or fire. Each device has a maximum voltage it can handle and if you don’t match up, it may cause damage or even fire.
  • Don’t use extension cords with surge protection on them as they may cause problems with your equipment or worse, start fires in your home or office.
  • If you are going to use extension cords with surge protection on them, make sure they have enough slack so they don’t get pulled out of the wall by someone walking around the room or working near them. If they are too short and someone bumps into them, they could yank them out of the wall causing a big mess for everyone involved.
  • You must use the same voltage rating on both strips to avoid damage or fire. Each device has a maximum voltage it can handle and if you don’t match up, it may cause damage or even fire.
  • Don’t use extension cords with surge protection on them as they may cause problems with your equipment or worse, start fires in your home or office.
  • If you are going to use extension cords with surge protection on them, make sure they have enough slack so they don’t get pulled out of the wall by someone walking around the room or working near them. If they are too short and someone bumps into them, they could yank them out of the wall causing a big mess for everyone involved.

Read our blog here about do extension cords reduce power?

What Electronics Should Not Be Plugged into an Extension Cord?

When you’re running out of outlets, extension cords can be a lifesaver. But it’s important to use them safely so you don’t risk electric shock or fire.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that improper use of extension cords is one of the top causes of home electrical fires. According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), almost half of all home electrical fires started with extension cords and portable heaters.

Extension cords should not be used as permanent wiring, but they can be helpful in many situations, such as when you need more outlets or lights than are available in your home.

But there are some things that should never be plugged into an extension cord. Here are some of them:

  • Outdoor Appliances:
    • If you have an outdoor grill or any other appliance that needs to get power from an outlet (not just direct connection), you’ll want to make sure it’s on its own circuit with its own breaker. Some states will even require this as part of their electrical code.
  • Anything Over 300 Watts:
    • The typical extension cords available at hardware stores only have enough capacity for about 15 amps of current — which means that if you plug something like a refrigerator into one, it’s going to trip the circuit breaker before it even starts up.
  • Anything That Needs More Than One Outlet:
    • While extension cords can come with multiple outlets on them, they don’t always have enough capacity to handle everything plugged into them at once. If you have too many things plugged into one cord, especially if they’re all running at the same time, then the system is going to overload and shut down.

Here are some tips for using extension cords safely:

  • Use only three-pronged plugs on extensions cords; never use two-pronged plugs with extensions because they provide no ground connection.
  • Make sure the cord is rated for the appliance you’re plugging into it and that it has at least as much current capacity as required by that appliance’s rating label (usually stamped on the bottom or rear panel).

What Electronics Are Safe to Be Plugged into an Extension Cord?

Here are 5 electronics that can safely be plugged into an extension cord:

  • Cell phone chargers, portable fans, and other small appliances. These small devices don’t draw very much power and can easily be powered through an extension cord. Just make sure the cord is long enough to reach from your outlet to where you need it.
  • Coffee makers, hair dryers, and other small appliances. These items have low wattage requirements, so they’ll work just fine on a long extension cord. Also check whether your coffee maker has a “pulse” feature that requires more power than traditional models; if it does, you’ll need to use a heavy-duty extension cord for safety reasons (and because it will take longer for you to get your morning joe).
  • Small lamps and lighting fixtures. Smaller lamps like table lamps or floor lamps usually don’t require more than 12 amps of current — which is easy for an extension cord to handle. And if you’re using CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs, they won’t put a strain on an extension cord either.
  • Computers and monitors (but not external drives). If you have a desktop computer with an internal power supply unit (PSU), then it’s safe.

Conclusion

Power strips are designed to stop the flow of electricity when it’s overloaded. That means that it’s okay to plug multiple devices into your power strip, but if you plug something into an extension cord, you’re taking a chance.

The best way to avoid problems with extension cords is to avoid using them altogether when possible — if you’re going to have more than one device plugged in at once, use individual power strips instead.

Check out our blog here about should extension cords be unplugged when not in use?

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