Power strips (extension cords/leads) are merely extensions of fixed wall outlets. They allow you to extend the reach of an outlet and are useful in places with no outlet nearby. However, they come in different lengths and qualities and usually cannot handle high loads.
If you limit the load, you can plug two power strips into one outlet to avoid exceeding the circuit’s current capacity.
I will go into more detail below.
Using Power Strips
Although you can use a power strip safely, even two in a single outlet, you must consider whether it can cope with the load and not short circuit or burn.
The circuit capacity of the outlet itself also limits you. Another thing to be aware of is that you should normally only use one or two sockets on each power strip at any given time.
Things to Consider
So it’s technically possible to plug two power strips into one outlet, but you should consider the following:
- The current capacity of the outlet
- The wire sizes of the power strips
- The total load on the power strips and outlet
The total load on the two power strips should not exceed the outlet’s power or current rating.
If you exceed this limit, you risk overloading the circuit and creating a fire hazard. For example, if the total load is 12 amps, you cannot connect the power strips to an outlet on a 10-amp circuit. Even 9 or 10 amps would be too high for continuous use. The safest maximum would be eight amps, as long as the power strip cords are thick enough for the load.
How Do I Do That?
Finding Out the Load Capacity
By looking at the circuit breaker’s rating, you determine the load capacity, i.e., how much current a circuit can handle.
Normally, the circuit breaker is located inside the main panel and rated according to the wiring and outlets on its circuit.
If you’re unsure which circuit breaker controls the outlet you’re considering plugging the two power strips into, you can turn them off one by one until you find the one that turns off that outlet.
Most regular circuits are rated for 15 or 20 amps. You probably shouldn’t use power strips on that circuit if it’s less than this.
Finding Out the Load Being Used
If you’re unsure of the total load on the power strips, use a power monitor like the one shown below.
Plug the power monitor into the outlet and then the power strips into the socket on the power monitor. It will give you the total current, power, and voltage readings.
Finding Out the Load of Each Appliance
You can find out each appliance’s load by looking at the label or plate on the appliance.
Appliances usually have this information written on them. Note the power, which will be stated in watts. Divide this by the voltage (usually 110-120 volts) to get the operating current. If you cannot find this information, you can use the power monitor to find out.
The total power consumption is the sum of the power ratings of each appliance being used together. Divide this total by 110/120 to get the total amperage. If the current of all plugged-in appliances does not exceed the outlet’s or circuit’s rating, you don’t have anything to worry about.
If this condition is met, you can safely plug two power strips into that outlet.
Plugging a Power Strip into Another Power Strip
If, by using two power strips, you intend to plug one of them into the other to extend the range, this is usually not advisable.
The only exception would be for very light loads. Normally, daisy-chaining multiple power strips is against various regulations in professional settings. It increases the risk of electrical burnout or fire.
Another hazard would be using indoor power strips outdoors, especially in damp weather. Water and electricity don’t mix safely, so don’t do it.
Steve Bass. PC Annoyances, How to Fix the Most Annoying Things about Your Computer, Windows, and More. O’Reilly. 2005. Retrieved from https://www.google.com.pk/books/edition/PC_Annoyances/EtUxcyopJM4C?hl=en&gbpv=0.
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