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Using Extension Cords or Power Strips vs. Adding New Outlets

Electric wiring components

Provident Electric Educates Our Middletown, MD Customers

From smartphones and tablets to appliances, many of the devices and gadgets you use daily require electricity. As technology has evolved, the need for extra electrical outlets to plug in additional devices has become more of a necessity and less of a luxury for most homeowners. You may wonder if you can get by using extension cords and power strips instead of installing new outlets to save on home remodeling costs. Provident Electric is here to analyze which is ideal: extension cords and power strips vs. adding new outlets for our Middletown, MD-area customers. Check out our other blogs for additional insights and expert advice from our residential electricians!

What Are Extension Cords, and What Are Their Intended Uses?

Extension cords connect devices that may not be situated near an electrical outlet. Extension cords are long electrical cables that run anywhere from two feet long to over 30 feet. There’s a socket on one end of the extension cord and a plug on the other. Extension cords are intended to plug in a single electrical device or appliance that’s too far from the outlet for its regular cord to reach. Because their long cables can present a tripping hazard in your home, you should use them sparingly. If you have small children or pets, you may want to avoid their use altogether in rooms with heavy daily use.

What Are Power Strips, and What Are Their Intended Uses?

A power strip contains numerous sockets to plug in multiple devices situated near each other and one plug and cable at the end that connects to the wall outlet. Power strips come in handy when you need to power several devices using a single power source. The devices sharing the power strip must be in proximity, making them ideal for entertainment rooms and home offices with several electronics clustered together. Many modern power strips are equipped with circuit breakers to prevent short-circuiting or power overloads. Some may even have an automatic shut-off feature for your safety.

Extension Cords & Power Strips Offer Temporary Solutions

Extension cords and power strips offer excellent temporary solutions for harried homeowners looking to plug in additional appliances and electronics. However, you shouldn’t make their use a permanent habit. Power strips and extension cords have load capacities, meaning they’re designed to withstand a certain amount of power through their circuits. As today’s appliances and handheld devices are loaded with more energy-guzzling features, power strips and extension cords are easier than ever to overload. Overloading a power strip or extension cord and tripping its circuit breaker is a fire hazard. Don’t wait until you notice the smell of melting plastic or see electrical sparks coming from your power strip or extension cord, as these are warning signs you could soon have an electrical fire on your hands.

When You Should Consider Having New Outlets Installed

If you’re looking for the best long-term solution, consider installing new electrical outlets in your home. It’s safer and less of an eyesore than having multiple extension cords zigzagging across your walls. As one of the leading electric companies in Frederick County, Provident Electric would be happy to inspect your home and recommend the best places to install your new outlets. Our residential electricians are among Maryland’s best, exceeding expectations with our safe, reliable workmanship and excellent customer service. No electrical repair or project is too big or small for us to troubleshoot!

What Are the Benefits of Installing New Electrical Outlets?

Installing new electrical outlets inside your home vs. using power strips or extension cords can keep your family safe from the risk of electrocution, electrical fires, and tripping hazards. It can also help you add value to your home, ensuring everything is up-to-code with the current standards. If it’s time to upgrade your home’s electrical outlets, we can help you update them with GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupters) to cut them off automatically whenever an electrical current imbalance has been detected. We can also help you install USB outlets and charging stations to accommodate your smartphones, tablets, and other technology better than outdated outlets or extension cords.

A Few Don’ts When It Comes to Power Strips & Extension Cords

It’s critical to follow the instructions for the intended use of power strips and extension cords to avoid electrical fires and other safety hazards. Here are a few helpful don’ts to keep in mind about extension cords and power strips safety from the experienced Provident Electric team:

  • Don’t put a power strip or extension cord underneath a rug – This could be a fire or tripping hazard. Stepping repeatedly on the power cables can damage them over time.
  • Don’t plug a power strip into an extension cord or another power strip – This could cause one or more of the strips to fail and/or catch fire from the power overload.
  • Don’t use indoor power strips in outdoor living spaces – Outdoor power strips are designed specifically for outdoor use, meaning they’re probably protected from moisture. An indoor power strip isn’t built to withstand the elements.
  • Don’t use a visibly damaged power strip or extension cord – A damaged power strip or extension cord represents a fire hazard. Please replace them when they show signs of wear.
  • Don’t overload your power strips or extension cords – You can cause severe damage by overloading a power strip or extension cord. You might be surprised about the amperage required to generate heat for hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners. If you need to plug in beauty tools such as these, use a GFCI-protected outlet.
  • Don’t get your power strips or extension cords wet – Water and electricity are not a good combination. When power strips or extension cords get wet, you risk getting electrocuted or ruining everything that’s plugged into them.
  • Don’t leave them unsupervised around small children – You’d be horrified to see how many small children have stuck fingers, toys, or even eating utensils into power strips and outlets. It’s best to keep them out of their reach whenever possible. You should also teach your children about the importance of electrical safety in the home. If you’re interested in installing new outlets instead, ask about outlet covers and tamper-resistant outlets that are childproof.

Is a Power Strip Safer Than an Extension Cord?

When it comes to power strips vs. extension cords, you may be wondering if one is a safer option than the other. As long as you use them for their intended purposes and don’t combine them in a single outlet, extension cords and power strips can both be safe to use inside your home. Pay attention to their maximum load capacities and consider getting power strips and extension cords with safety features for your peace of mind. Whether you choose to use a power strip or an extension cord, be sure that your family’s safety is always your chief concern. You may be better off installing new outlets or surge protectors to protect your electronic devices from sudden voltage spikes.

Contact Us to Get Started With a Free Consultation Today

For over 25 years, Maryland homeowners have relied on Provident Electric for all their electrical needs. From new installations to 24/7 emergency services, we provide dependable residential services in Middletown, Frederick, Mt. Airy, Germantown, Westminster, and surrounding communities. If it’s time to consider an electrical upgrade involving additional outlets, give us a call to get started with a free consultation. Our friendly, knowledgeable electricians would be happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions. We go above and beyond to meet or exceed your service expectations. View our customer reviews to see why our electrical services are highly recommended in the area!