Electricity is so important in every aspect of our life. Apart from lighting at home and charging your phone, electricity runs machines in factories to make production possible. However, with poor handling, power can be too disastrous, and a simple mess can lead to household, office, or factory equipment damage.
One of the ways you can cause self-injury or appliance damage by electricity is by overloading your outlets and extensions. You need to take extra care to ensure that your systems carry the capacity the extension is designed to hold. If your machine, for instance, is rated far higher than the extension, you better plug the machine directly to the wall power outlet or get a new power cord.
These are the seven ways you can ensure that your power extension cord is not overloaded when all your systems are running.
1. Do a Thorough Electrical Inspection
One of the main reasons why you encounter power issues is because of poor electrical connections or faulty cables. It could be your extension cord or the main power supply unit. Before blaming your appliances for power overload, you should be sure that you have everything in perfect condition.
A faulty electrical line or connection can damage fuses and overload your extension leading to fire accidents or appliance electric damage. However, you should never try to do any connection corrections unless you are a professional. Let an expert in matters of electricity help you to diagnose the source of your problems – from the mains supply to your extension cord circuit.
2. Confirm the Approved Current Rating for Your Extensions
Each power extension cord comes with a maximum amount of current that can flow through before the fuse blows or the wires melt. You want to be sure that the extension cord is clearly labeled how much amperage you should use for each extension. Failure to follow this, you are most likely going to overload your flat extension cord.
With the information of your extension cord current rating, you can determine the number of appliances you can connect to each extension to avoid power overload. For instance, if your cord can support up to 10 amps, and you have adapters of 2A, then you can only plug less than five onto the same extension.
3. Confirm the Input Current on Your Devices
Not every electrical appliance is designed the same. Some of them are designed to do more work than others. In the same way, their power usage varies from one appliance to another. For example, a person charging a mobile phone uses a different amount of power from the one who is ironing. You need to check with the product manufacturer if the appliance can sustain the current on an extension cord.
From the example of phone adapters and iron, you might be aware that high-current appliances need to be plugged directly into the wall outlet. Examples include a fridge, domestic welding machine, electric iron, kettle, or cooker. Such appliances should never use an extension as their source of power. If you have few outlets on your wall, ask an electrician to extend the wall outlet from the main meter.
4. Choose the Right Extension Cord for Your Outlets
Extension cords are manufactured with varying configurations. You need to understand the total power load that your circuit can hold before purchasing the extension cord. And you need an extension cord with led indicators that inform you how much power your appliances are using. The more appliances you add, the more the load.
An extension with indicators can easily inform you when you need to stop plugging in more appliances or when you need to unplug those that draw up more energy. Also, make sure that your extension has three pins to ensure that it connects the live line to the corresponding live on the wall outlet while providing the earthing that prevents shock when handling the equipment.
5. Avoid Connecting an Extension Cord to Another
We are all guilty of this crime. We sometimes want to power many appliances, but the power outlets are few. For instance, in some homes, there are only two to three wall outlets. Some have one. I have even lived (in many scenarios) in rental rooms with no wall outlet, and I had to tap it with an extension cord from the lamp holder using a bed switch.
If you have few outlets, then you will have to sacrifice the number of appliances you can use at a time. If you have, for example, one wall outlet, I would recommend that you use one extension, and do not exceed the current flow through the cord. Adding another cord will increase the current passing through the first extension cord, which can easily lead to fire accidents.
6. Unplug the Appliances You are Not Using
You can sometimes connect your home theatre, TV, and phone to your extension cord. After the phone is fully charged, most people will disconnect the phone and leave the adapter in the wall or the extension cord. By doing so, they think that they have cut power consumption. That adapter is still using electricity but it has nowhere to supply the energy.
Even if you have switched off your TV or computer, it is still consuming power. Only the internal circuit breaks, but the power supply unit is still running and using current. This means that powered-off appliances still count to the current load on your extension cord. By unplugging them, you not only save a few bucks off your electricity bills but also save your home from power overload.
7. Use an Overload Calculator
Sometimes, it is hard to tell the exact current for the appliance you are using. Free space on your extension does not mean that you can add another appliance to maximize your extension usage. Overloading can cause overheating and fire on your socket.
Using an electrical overload calculator, you can tell how many appliances can go together on the socket. There are appliances that cannot combine, and there are others that can go together up to three or four. The calculator gives you an interactive way to test and decide which appliances you can use together at the same time without compromising the current or power limit on your extension.
Commonly, we have so many gadgets to use, and we want to have them access the power supply as often as possible. Some people live in places where power availability tends to be a problem. They would want to connect everything at once when the power is restored. But running to extension cords can be risky, and you must ensure that you do not overload them when using power at home.