Living in an old apartment with not many electrical outlets forces us to plug in a few too many devices per outlet. While we know most people are lucky enough to have more than one outlet per room, there is still the temptation to continue to daisy chain surge protectors to have enough space for the new device or the holiday decorations that need to be powered on. Since holiday season is right around the corner it made sense for us to take a look at what the dangers are of plugging in too many devices.
Wanting to get the scoop on just how dangerous overloaded outlets are, we turned to the helpful folks at HowStuffWorks.
Overloaded Outlets Do Cause Fires
Overloaded outlets do actually cause fires, a whopping 5,300 annually in American households, almost 2,000 of which occur during the holidays.
How to spot it: So what makes an outlet overloaded? Thankfully there is a formula to help you determine how much electricity you are using: p/e=i (wattage divided by volts equals amps). This means if you're using 2,000 watts of power with your holiday lights and other decorations. You divide that number by the volts in your house (usually 120) and you come up with 16.6 amps of current that you're using. With a 20 amp electrical outlet, you're using around 80 percent of the available current, which is the most you should be using per circuit.
How to fix it: As pretty as those lights will look, rethink your decorations and power needs when you're close to overloading your outlets. Prioritize and unplug!
Two More Tips
Make sure your wiring is up to snuff. Inadequate and faulty wiring is a huge fire hazard. Another way to prevent electrical fires this holiday season is to only use products that are certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
For more on electricity and fire, check out Josh Clark's incredibly informative post on Howstuffworks.