There are only two sockets in my bedroom, and both are hidden behind furniture. That means I rely on power outlets to keep my cell phone charger, Kindle charger, laptop charger, alarm clock, lights, TV, sewing machine, Chromecast and list just on.
If, as I do, your stores are running at full capacity, there are a few smart (and safe!) Solutions that you can use.
Safety first and always
First and foremost, power outlets can pose a security risk. An overloaded outlet can trip a tripped circuit breaker, increase the risk of electrical shock, or cause a fire. You want to pay attention to how many things you connect and what they are.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), products that generate heat, such as hairdryers, space heaters, toasters or crock pots, should always be plugged directly into the wall outlet. They draw too much power to safely use with a power strip or an extension cord.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International and the NFPA agree that temporary solutions such as power strips and extension cords should not be used on a long-term basis. The safest way to gain access to more electricity in every part of your home is to install an electrical outlet to install new electrical outlets.
But, as every tenant knows, that is not always feasible. Continue reading for some ways to cope with too few outlets when you can not get more.
On the plug
Now that we have discussed the safety precautions, we talk about ways to make room. One of your best bets is an outlet tap that will plug into your existing outlet and cover it to add more containers.
They are commonly available in three- and six-slot configurations, and some even have USB ports to charge your devices. Watch out for spill valves that protect your electronics from harmful surges.
If the problem is that your wall outlets are just out of reach and you need something to bridge the gap while adding more power outlets, a power strip is the tool for the job.
They come in many different shapes, sizes and cord lengths, generally from 2 feet to 25 feet. You probably already have several in your house, but do you know the safety precautions that you should take when you use them?
Safety Symbols for Power Strips
- Do not allow flammable materials, including pillows, sheets, or clothing, to cover your power strips. You need sufficient air circulation to avoid overheating.
- Also, avoid putting them behind furniture that does not give them airflow, like a dresser.
- Do not daisy-chain power strips or connect a power strip to an extension cable for additional length or free space.
- Keep the area around the power strip away from dust that may ignite due to electrical sparks.
Still further away
If you only have to connect one item, eg. For example, if you have a hanging lamp in a corner, or your laptop charger that can not be reached right now, it's time to get an extension cord.
When shopping, you know exactly what you need to use the cable for and buy it accordingly. Thinner extension cords should never be used outdoors because they are not durable enough and can fray.
Also, make sure that the cable can handle the power supply for what you connect. For most household applications, such as plugging in a lamp or computer charger, an extension cable capable of handling up to 13 amps should suffice.
To find out exactly how many amps your DC powered object is using, look for the wattage and volts used, which are usually stamped or printed on the product. Divide the watts by the volts, and you have the amps.
Stay secure with extension cords.
- Do not carry extension cables under the carpets. Foot traffic can damage the wiring in the cable, causing sparking and fire hazard.
- Replace old extension cords or those that show signs of wear. Fraying wires are a fire hazard.
- Do not use extension cables for heat generating devices.
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Find more tips and tricks for the home in the CNET Guide to Smart Living.