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Are Power Strips Safe?

June 13, 2024

Hand Plugging Cord Into Power Strip

In today’s digital age, homes are filled with numerous electronic devices that require a constant power supply. Power strips are a convenient solution to the problem of too few outlets, but many people wonder, are power strips safe? This blog will delve into the safety aspects of power strips, what differentiates a power strip from a surge protector, and provide best practices to ensure safe usage.

What is a Power Strip?

A power strip is a device that allows multiple electrical devices to be powered from a single electrical outlet. It typically consists of a block of sockets that an electric cord plugs into. Power strips are widely used in homes and offices to expand the number of available outlets, allowing for more devices to be connected to a single power source.

Are All Power Strips Surge Protectors?

One common misconception is that all power strips offer surge protection. This is not the case. While a power strip and a surge protector might look similar, they serve different purposes. A basic power strip merely provides multiple outlets, while a surge protector includes features designed to protect connected devices from power surges.

Surge Protector vs. Extension Cord

Understanding the difference between a surge protector and an extension cord is crucial. An extension cord simply extends the reach of an outlet, allowing for electrical devices to be used farther away from a wall socket. A surge protector, on the other hand, safeguards your electronics against voltage spikes, which can occur due to lightning strikes, power outages, or other electrical anomalies.

When deciding between a surge protector and an extension cord, consider the devices you are plugging in. Sensitive electronics like computers, televisions, and gaming consoles benefit greatly from the added protection a surge protector offers.

Do Surge Protectors Go Bad?

Yes, surge protectors can go bad. Over time, the protective components within a surge protector can degrade, especially if it has been exposed to multiple surges. Many modern surge protectors include an indicator light that shows whether the device is still offering protection. If the light goes out, it’s time to replace the surge protector.

Are Power Strips Safe?

Power strips are generally safe when used correctly. However, misuse can lead to serious safety hazards. Here are some tips to ensure the safe use of power strips:

  • Avoid Overloading: Each power strip has a maximum load capacity. Overloading a power strip by plugging in too many high-wattage devices can cause overheating and potential fires.
  • Use Proper Surge Protectors: For sensitive electronics, always use a surge protector rather than a basic power strip. Look for surge protectors with a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating for added safety assurance.
  • Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect your power strips for signs of wear and tear. Replace any power strips that show signs of damage, such as frayed cords or exposed wiring.
  • Proper Placement: Place power strips in well-ventilated areas to prevent overheating. Avoid covering them with rugs, furniture, or other items that can trap heat.
  • Avoid Daisy-Chaining: Daisy-chaining, or plugging one power strip into another, can easily lead to overloading and should be avoided.

Choosing a UL Surge Protector

When selecting a surge protector, look for one that is UL listed. The UL mark signifies that the product has been tested and meets the safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories. A UL surge protector provides an extra layer of assurance that the device will perform reliably under surge conditions.


Power strips are a convenient solution for providing additional outlets, but it’s essential to use them safely. Remember that not all power strips are surge protectors, and using the appropriate device for your needs is crucial for protecting your electronics. Always inspect your power strips regularly, avoid overloading them, and choose UL-rated surge protectors for sensitive devices.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the safe use of power strips in your home or office. If you have any concerns about your electrical setup or need assistance with selecting the right surge protector, contact Chesapeake Electric for professional advice and services. Our team of experts is here to help with all your electrical needs, ensuring your home and devices remain safe and protected.