Can I plug a surge protector into an extension cord? Many people keep asking this question. While some believe both are compatible, experts are against such practices.
Extension cords offer protection against voltage spikes like surge protectors, but not all of them do. Their primary use is to provide multiple outlets so that you can plug in more than one appliance.
On the contrary, all surge protectors offer protection against voltage spikes. Some also have multiple outlets like extension cords.
Now, let’s go back to the question.
Can one plug a surge protector into an extension cord?
While it is technically correct, it is against the National Electoral Code safety regulations. It is not advisable to connect a surge protector and extension cords in either combination. They are not designed to work together. Using the two together poses a significant risk of electrical fire outbreaks.
How An Electric Cord Works
An electric cord should have a core of metal wire with good conductivity. The metal wires are mostly made of copper or aluminum. The atomic structure of a good conductor has free, mobile electrons.
The good conductors provide current flowing through it with a path of low resistance. When voltage is kept constant and the resistance increases, there will be low current flow; this is Ohm’s law.
For safety, there is an insulating material around the core metal. High current will cause the conductor to overheat, thus damaging the insulating material. The damage may lead to fire, electric shock, or even short-circuiting of the electric current.
Things To Look For In An Electric Cord
One should get an electric cord that can handle most appliances’ power requirements to be connected.
You should know the amperage of the devices before making a purchase. A 15 amps’ electric cord is considered the best option.
Eclectic cords can either have two or three-prong plugs. Plug choice will depend on the appliances and the amperage involved.
If you prefer to get a two-prong pin, the cord should handle the third ground wire necessary for safety.
It is advisable to get plugs with reinforced prongs. Reinforced prongs are less prone to breaking or bending.
Where will it be used?
There are electric cords for indoor and outdoor use. The outer layer of the cable is known as a jacket and protects the inner core wire. It also determines what environment to use the cord.
The jacket and has a designation reference guide. The guide has a sequence of letters, each with a unique meaning.
The designation reference guide helps you identify where to use the cord.
The jacket should also be flexible; for durability. It should also be of good insulation material.
The diameter of the cord
The diameter of the inner core affects how much power can be carried safely by the electric cord. Thicker wires tend to take more power over long distances. Heavy-duty appliances require thicker gauges.
Aside from diameter considerations, it would be best if you bought an electric cord that is longer than what you think you need.
How A Surge Protector Works
A surge suppressor protects electrical appliances from voltage spikes. Prolonged surges often shorten the life span of gadgets.
A surge diverter senses excess current and diverts it via the ground path. The excess current could be due to an unexpected voltage spike resulting from lightning or a fault on the power line.
The device features metal oxide varistors that only allow acceptable current to pass through. This is possible as the MOVs absorb the excess voltage from the sudden spikes.
Joule rating shows the amount of one voltage spike that a surge suppressor can handle without falling. It can either be a single voltage spike or a series of them.
Some surge suppressors come with safety features, including protection alerts and auto-shutoff. LED lights or audible beeping sounds often indicate that the device is not offering the required protection.
Also, modern ones come with an auto shut-off feature. This acts as a circuit breaker and prevents power from reaching your appliances.
Things To Look For In A Surge Protector
Protection in surge suppressors is given in joules. The higher the ratings, the better since it will offer more protection. It’s vital to note that components inside the suppressor may wear down with time. This reduces the effectiveness of the device.
It is not possible to know the exact amount of protection being offered by the suppressor. It is therefore advised to closely monitor the alert features. These will tell you when the device is not providing adequate protection.
For peace of mind, some brands offer a warranty to all the devices connected to the protector. The value is usually not equal to your gadgets’ worth but a reasonable amount to help you with repairs.
The chances are that you may never come to need the money, but you will be more relaxed knowing that you are covered.
Number of outlets
It is always recommended to get a protector with more outlets than you currently need. This is because you are probably going to add other appliances with time. It will allow easy expansion.
Spacing between sockets
You will find that some devices use chunky plugs. These plugs convert AC into DC, and they are a little bigger compared to the normal ones.
A surge diverter should have reasonable spacing between the sockets. This will accommodate the bigger plugs. Some sockets can be rotated at an angle to serve the same purpose.
This does not carry a lot of weight but places you on the convenient side. You never know when you are going to need to move your protector out of the house.
During Christmas seasons, when there is a need to light garden trees, portable surge protectors can be handy. It should be lightweight with a flexible cord to easily park.
These features don’t have to be in a surge protector, but they will surely make your life easier. A good example is the USB port. They offer you the convenience of charging your cell phone directly from the protector.
Be sure to check on the amps it generates. Usually, you will find they are labeled 1A or 2A, indicating the amount of current the port outputs. For fast charging, 2A is recommended.
Precaution To Be Considered When Handling An Electronic Cord
- It should always be used when dry to avoid shock risks.
- Don’t overload an electronic cord. It may result in a short circuit damaging the devices.
- One shouldn’t place the cord in a busy area; this may cause accidents to the user and everyone around.
- One should not attempt to use a cord that has lower wattage to the device plugged in.
- Don’t attempt to plug one cord into the other.
Tips To Consider When Handling A Surge Protector
- Give your surge protector frequent checkup.
- Buy surge protectors that have been tested and inspected by professional safety organizations.
- Don’t overload the surges with appliances that consume a large amount of energy.
- One should always avoid water when handling the component to avoid the risk of shocks.
- Plug them correctly as instructed by the manufacturer.
Are extension cords dangerous?
Yes, when improperly used, they can overheat and cause fires. Overheating is mainly a result of overloading.
Connecting electrical appliances that consume more power than an extension can handle can also cause overheating. Avoid overloading of appliances to be safe from electrical fire outbreaks.
What is the recommended joule rating for a surge protector?
The rate of energy dissipation or absorption of a surge protector is given in joules. The rating indicates the amount of energy a surge suppressor can withstand before failing.
Surge protectors with higher ratings offer much protection. For maximum protection, a rating of 600 joules should suffice. 200-400 joules ratings are also recommended.
Do I really need a surge protector?
Yes, you do. Many people assume that only those living in areas prone to thunderstorms should get surge suppressor. This is not correct.
More than 70% of voltage spikes come from inside the house. This could be due to appliances like washing machines and other AC systems.
What are heavy-duty extension cords?
These are extension cords that can accommodate appliances using up to 15 Amps. Such cords are always grounded.
They come with plugs containing three slots to accommodate grounded electrical appliance cords.
What appliances should I plug into a surge protector?
Some electrical appliances are more prone to voltage spikes than others. Gadgets like microwaves, laptops, TV sets, mobile phones, and gaming systems should be protected from power surges.
On the other hand, appliances like alarm clocks don‘t need to be plugged into a surge protector.
Surge protectors and extension cords have become a necessity in today’s homes. With gadgets like gaming systems, smartphones, and tablets, you can’t miss having one of them. We have seen that while it is possible to connect them, it’s not advisable.
When mishandled could result in a fire breakout. If you have to plug the surge into the extension cord, follow the above tip. This will minimize the risk of short circuit and fire outbreaks.