How to Choose the Right Power Strips
1.The Correct Way of Using Power Strips.
A power strip is a temporary expansion of the wall outlet, so do not use a power strip as a substitute for permanent wiring. If you reply on power strips too much, try to have more wall outlets installed, especially in the kitchen, garage, and the laundry room, where high power appliances are often used. When a power strip is getting old or damaged, unplug it and replace it with a new one.
It is also wrong to “daisy-chain” power strips -- to plug a power strip into another power strip, yet many people are still not aware of the danger. When power strips are “daisy-chained” and multiple appliances are plugged, it increases the possibility of overloading the wall outlet and could cause an electrical fire.
2.What Do These “Specifications” Mean.
On the package or the power strip itself, you may often find its specifications, like this one below. But how to read the specifications?
Input/Output Voltages and Frequencies: Normally, power strips don’t change the voltage and frequency of the mains power, you will get the same voltage and frequency from the power strip’s outlets and from the wall outlet. Some power strips have a universal voltage and frequency compatibility, i.e. 110-240V, 50/60Hz, which means you can use it worldwide with just the right plug adapter.
Rated Current/Power: Each power strip has its upper limit of carrying electric currents, which is determined by the thickness of the conductors, thicker wires carry higher currents and support higher power appliances. For example, when a 15A power strip is used in the US voltage range (110-125V), it supports max. 1875W power consumption for all the appliances plugged in it. (Formula: P=UI, P=Power, U=Voltage, I=Current)
Joule Rating: Some power strips have built-in surge protective units, which makes them surge protectors as well. Surges are sudden voltage spikes in the power supply that could damage or deteriorate sensitive devices like computers, and could even erase your valuable data permanently. Surge protection is measured in joules, the higher they are, the better protection it can provide.
3.Choose Power Strips for Your Needs.
So with the basic idea of how the power strip’s specifications mean, you can choose a power strip to fit your needs accordingly. Here are some aspects you might consider.
Length: If you live in a big house and the appliances are away from the nearest wall outlet, you might consider a long cord power strip.
Number of Outlets: First count the plugs of the appliances and electronic devices that need to be powered or charged, then find the power strip with more outlets (and USB ports) than you need in case you want to add extra gear in that area.
Total Power: Calculate the total rated power of the appliances you want to power up, you may find this information on their specification stickers or plates. The power strip’s rated power or rated current should be higher than the total power or current of all the appliances, otherwise, overloads could occur frequently.
Extra Features: If you need to plug computers and other sensitive electronics into the power strip, try to find a surge protected one by searching “surge protector” or “joule rating” from the description. Also, if you have many phones or other USB gadgets to be charged, it’s better to find a power strip with multiple USB ports to save the effort of plugging bulky adapters into the limited outlets. Some newer power strips also integrate wireless chargers with them, so if your phone is wireless chargeable, have one of those to experience the cordless charging.
The pace of technology has never stopped and we will have more and more equipment to be powered on, so let these guidelines steer you in the right direction of finding the right power strips. It may take some researching, but it is definitely worth it when you have the safest and most suitable power strip at a reasonable price.
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