With the electronics and appliances in homes today, most of us have extension cords and surge protectors in case of lightning strikes. But is it safe to plug a surge protector into an extension cord? While it is commonly done, consider safety to avoid overloading circuits and risking fire hazards when you use a surge protector that is plugged into an extension cord and vice versa.
Surge protectors are vital in safeguarding expensive electronics from voltage spikes, while extension cords provide extra length to reach distant outlets. However, exceeding the amperage ratings or improperly daisy chaining the two can lead to overheating, damage equipment, or start electrical fires.
While it is acceptable to connect a surge protector to an extension cord, following the guidelines in this piece helps ensure you are doing so safely without overloading. In our guide, you can learn more about what can be plugged into an extension cord safely and what shouldn’t. By the end, you’ll understand if you can plug a surge protector and plug a long extension cord into a power strip to gain more flexibility. (Read What Do Moth Balls Smell Like)
What Is A Surge Protector And What Does It Do?
A surge protector, also known as a power strip or surge suppressor, is an electrical device that protects your electronics from power surges. Power surges are sudden bursts of excess electrical current that damage or destroy sensitive electronic components.
Surge protectors are made to divert extra electricity into the grounding wire of an outlet during a power surge. This prevents the excess current from reaching your connected devices. High-quality surge protectors often have components like MOVs (metal oxide varistors) or avalanche diode circuits that react quickly to divert surges.
Surge protection is crucial to ensure safe electronics, like computers, TVs, game consoles, and home theater systems. A good surge protector can protect your investment and save you from costly damages. Surge protectors often also provide extra outlets to plug in several devices conveniently.
What Is An Extension Cord, And What Is It Used For?
The use of extension cords, and to plug power strips together has risen with the number of gadgets growing. An extension cord is an electrical power cable with a plug, and sockets on the extension cord can handle multiple devices. The purpose of an extension cord is also to extend the reach of an electrical outlet, besides coping with more devices.
Extension cords allow you to plug in devices further away from the wall outlet than the device’s power cable would allow. They come in various lengths and wire gauges to handle different levels of electrical load. (Read Socket Size For Spark Plug Lawn Mower)
Common uses for extension cords include:
- Reaching far away outlets to plug in lamps, fans, or other appliances.
- Provide power to outdoor tools and outdoor devices like lawnmowers, power washers, holiday
- lighting, etc.
- Creating temporary power sources where permanent wiring does not exist.
- Allowing devices to be moved around and repositioned quickly.
You can find extension cords with different numbers of outlets and various adapter plug types to power multiple devices.
Can You Plug A Surge Protector Into An Extension Cord?
The short answer is yes; you can plug a surge protector power strip into an extension cord. However, there are some essential factors to consider when doing this.
The key considerations are:
- The extension cord must be rated appropriately to handle the combined electrical load.
- Avoid overloading the extension cord to prevent overheating.
- Do not overload the surge protector, either.
- Use caution when daisy-chaining multiple extension cords and multiple power strips.
The Extension Cord Must Be Properly Rated
An extension cord must have ample current rating to handle a lot of power draw from all your devices plugged into it. If the extension cord is too thin or long for the electrical load, it can overheat and create a fire hazard.
The gauge (thickness) of the extension cord must match the amp rating of the surge protector and appliances connected downstream. Thicker cords are rated for higher currents. For most common surge protectors and household devices, a 14-gauge extension cord is sufficient. The extension cord length also matters. Longer cords have more resistance and voltage drop. Maximum recommended lengths for different wire gauges are:
- 16 gauge cord – 50 feet
- 14 gauge cord – 100 feet
- 12 gauge cord – 150 feet
When in doubt, go thicker and shorter and stay within the rated load capacity printed on the extension cord.
Avoid Overloading the Extension Cord
Do not plug high-powered devices like heaters, air conditioners, power tools, or appliances into an extension cord, powering the surge protector. The combined current can quickly overload the extension cord, potentially leading to melted insulation or fires. (Read Husqvarna Lawn Mower Spark Plug Size)
Do Not Overload the Surge Protector
Check the amp rating of the surge protector, and do not connect devices exceeding its specified capacity. Most good quality surge protectors have a 15-20 amp capacity. Higher-end models may go up to 30 amps.
Use Caution When Daisy Chaining
Daisy chaining means to use power strips and extension cords in a sequence to increase total length. While this may work in limited cases, it is not recommended because of overloading risks. If daisy chaining surge protectors and extension cords. Ensure the extension cord is 14 gauge (or thicker) for all connections and limit connected electronic devices to reduce risks of overheating.
The more links in the daisy chain, the higher the risks. It is better to use a single, longer, heavy-duty extension cord when possible instead of connection another power strip.
Tips For Safely Using Extension Cords And Surge Protectors
Power strips can be useful, yet when using extension cords with surge protectors, follow these tips:
- Always plug the surge protector directly into the wall outlet, then connect devices. Avoid plugging a surge protector into another surge protector.
- Position cords safely to avoid tripping hazards and accidental yanking. Use twist ties or clips to bundle loose cables.
- Periodically inspect all power cables for damage. Frayed cords can expose live wires. Replace damaged cords immediately.
- Unplug extension cords when not in use to avoid tripping hazards and reduce fire risks.
- Do not run cords under carpets where heat buildup can go unnoticed.
- Use surge protectors with an indicator light showing grounded and protected status.
- Choose surge protectors with an amperage rating equal to the extension cord amp rating.
- Position the extension cord and power strip off the ground in case of water contact.
- Never use outdoor-rated extension cords indoors, as they pose overheating risks.
- Don’t plug high-power draw appliances like heaters or air conditioners into extension cord connections.
- Ensure the cable is long enough to reach your small appliances using a power strip. Too short stresses the plug in the socket and can cause the circuit breaker to trip. You can also step on the wire and cause space heaters to fall or pull closer to flammable materials.
Following basic safety guidelines, you can safely connect a surge protector to an extension cord for convenient power and surge protection for your devices. Just be cautious of overloading and daisy chaining risks to prevent electrical hazards. (Read Symptoms Of Bad Ignition Coil On Lawn Mower)
Conclusion: Is Surge Protector and Extension Cord Use Safe?
Plugging a surge protector into extension cord provides convenient power access and surge protection to protect you and your equipment when plugged into a wall outlet. While it is better to plug surge protector’s directly into one outlet, sometimes extension cords are needed for positioning flexibility or to reach distant locations.
You may gain accessibility of extension cords along with the surge protection features of power strips throughout your interior spaces. Yet, remember to appropriately size the cords for your devices and the amount of power they need. Inspect often for damage and avoid the risk of starting a fire or cause a power outages from overloading.
FAQs: Safe To Plug A Surge Protector Into A Power Strip?
Is it safe to plug a surge protector into an extension cord?
It is generally safe to plug into a surge protector as long as the extension cord can carry as much power as the same load as the surge protector or exceed it. Do not overload, or you can damage the power cable when overheating.
Can I plug a power strip into an extension cord?
You can safely plug a power strip into an extension cord, provided the cord is adequately rated for the total devices plugged in. Power strips and surge protectors have similar considerations. Just watch out for overloading.
What happens if you plug an extension cord into a surge protector?
Plugging an extension cord into a surge protector will allow devices further from the outlet to benefit from electrical power surges. As long as amp ratings match and nothing is overloaded, using an extension cord with a surge protector extends protection to all devices.
Is it okay to plug a surge protector into another surge protector?
You can’t plug a surge protector into another surge protector. Linking surge protectors compromises the safe operation of the surge protection system if a surge protector is plugged into a system already containing a surge protector. Use a single, good-quality surge protector plugged directly into the wall outlet.
Should I plug my surge protector into an extension cord or the wall?
Plug the surge protector directly into a wall outlet for safety and the best surge protection. Use an extension cord only when necessary while following proper sizing, rating, and loading guidelines to avoid risks.