Refrigerators and Freezers
Large appliances like refrigerators require a lot of power and frequently cycle on and off, which can easily overload a power strip. These devices should be plugged directly into a wall outlet dedicated solely to powering the appliance. If you try to plug additional appliances into the same outlet, you risk tripping the circuit.
The microwave is a miracle of modern food preparation, thawing, cooking, and reheating food in a fraction of the time it takes a conventional oven. But all that marvelous activity requires more energy than a power strip can provide. Like a conventional electric oven, the microwave should have its own dedicated power outlet.
You may not think that your morning cup of joe requires that much energy to brew, but most coffee makers need quite bit of amperage to turn those roasted beans into a hot beverage. Plug your coffee maker directly into the outlet or you run the risk of waking up to a half-brewed pot of coffee.
If you’ve ever peered into a toaster to remove a particularly stubborn piece of broken crust, you know that the inside is basically a bunch of wires that heat up to red-hot temperatures to toast the bread. The current draw that those wires require can easily cause a power strip to overheat. This same issue affects toaster ovens, electric skillets, and waffle irons as well.
Slow Cookers and Hot Plates
You might think you're one clever cook when you plug your slow cooker into a power strip to free up outlet space for other countertop appliances, but you'd be wrong. These cooking appliances require more juice over a longer period of time than a power strip can handle. And because the appeal of a slow cooker is that it can operate without supervision, you definitely want to make sure it is safely plugged into a wall outlet to minimize any hazardous outcomes.
It takes a tremendous amount of electricity to power your hair dryers, curling wands, and flat irons. In fact, to prevent the circuit breaker from tripping, any hairdressing accessory that operates with heat should be plugged directly into a wall outlet—preferably a GFCI outlet to avoid the danger of accidental water exposure, a common bathroom hazard.
Portable Heaters and Air Conditioners
Portable heaters and air conditioners are designed to cycle on and off, and they draw a large amount of current when they switch on. This activity can overload a power strip and either trip the circuit breaker or cause dangerous overheating. For that reason, these appliances should always be plugged into a dedicated outlet.
A sump pump is often the last defense for a dry basement in the event of flooding. Because most power strips are not designed to be used in damp or wet conditions, they're unsuitable for use with a sump pump. Instead, plug a sump pump into a GFCI outlet, preferably one installed some height above the floor in case flooding ever does occur.
Portable air compressors are handy household helpers for the ambitious DIYer, but they draw a huge amount of energy on start-up. Rather than overloading a power strip, stick to a heavy-duty, properly rated extension cord to get the maximum use and benefit from your air tools.
Another Power Strip
Power strips are not meant to be used in conjunction with one another. In fact, plugging multiple power strips together, which is known as “daisy-chaining,” is the quickest way to overload your electrical system—and it's also dangerous and violates most fire safety codes. For the same reason, avoid the use of extension cords with power strips. If you find yourself short of outlets, try unplugging one device before you plug another one in—or cut the cord and find power-free alternatives to your household appliances.
Don't Get Shocked
You're better off unplugging whatever is hogging the wall outlet than plugging these items into a power strip. While it might take some rearranging of things, it's the smarter and safer move.
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