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Multiple Outlet Power Strips are indispensable tools in our digitized world. As more electric appliances and gadgets creep into daily use, our need for plug-in spaces increases. A Multiple Outlet Power Strip, also known as a power bar, is a block of electrical sockets attached to one cable, which allows multiple electronic devices to be plugged in simultaneously. Perfectly designed to meet our growing power demands, they not only offer convenience but also serve as a space-saving and energy-saving solution.
This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on various aspects of these handy tools. It covers everything from their history, different types, safety features, top brands, right through to their safe and efficient installation and usage.
History of Power Strips
Power strips first emerged in the 1970’s as a convenience for people who had more electrical appliances than outlets. Over the years, with the electronic revolution and increased demand, power strips have evolved exponentially. Not just a mere extension anymore, modern power strips now come with sufficient surge protection, USB slots, and smart technology to enhance user safety, convenience, and energy efficiency.
The power strip market has also grown significantly in the last few decades. Rising demand from household and commercial sectors coupled with rapid urbanization and increasing electronic device usage have boosted this market growth.
Different Types of Power Strips
The varieties of power strips available on the market cater to different types of users. Understanding the different types can help you choose the one that best suits your needs.
Basic Power Strip
A basic power strip features multiple outlets and a simple on-off switch. These types of power strips are ideal for electronic devices that do not need surge protection, such as lamps and clocks.
Surge Protector Strip
Surge protector power strips are equipped with circuitry to protect connected devices from power surges. These are ideal for sensitive electronics like computers, TVs, and home theater systems, which can suffer damage from sudden power surges.
USB Power Strip
USB power strips come with built-in USB ports along with standard outlets. They are perfect for charging smartphones, tablets, and other USB-powered devices without using a plug-in power adapter.
Why Use a Multiple Outlet Power Strip
Increasing reliance on electronic devices necessitates the need for power outlets. A multiple outlet power strip becomes a godsend when the number of electronic devices outnumbers available wall sockets. They provide a cost-effective and flexible solution for powering multiple devices at the same time.
Apart from convenience, multiple outlet power strips also allow us to conserve space. By plugging into one power strip, we eliminate the need for multiple wall sockets, thereby decluttering our walls and floors. Additionally, some power strips are energy-efficient, helping to lower electricity costs by reducing idle current when devices are not in use.
Understanding Electrical Ratings
Like all electrical appliances, power strips have certain ratings inscribed on them. These ratings, often referred to as ‘electrical ratings’, reflect the safe operational capacity of the power strip. Understanding them is crucial to prevent overheating and potential fire hazards associated with overloading.
Common ratings you’ll find on a power strip include voltage (V), amperage (A), and wattage (W). For instance, a power strip might be rated for 125V, 15A, and 1875W. This indicates the maximum voltage, current, and power it can handle. Devices that exceed these ratings should not be plugged into the strip, to prevent overloading and potential accidents. If the ratings aren’t exceeded, then it’s safe for use.
Safety Features to Consider
When selecting a power strip, safety should never be compromised. Here are some crucial safety features to consider:
Built-in Circuit Breaker
This feature automatically cuts off power to the strip if it detects an overload or short-circuit, thus preventing a fire or other hazards. Look for power strips labeled as having an ‘integrated circuit breaker’ or ‘overload protection’.
Grounded outlets help protect your devices from voltage spikes by allowing excess electricity to flow safely into the ground. An indicator light is often provided to show if the power strip is properly grounded.
Though not all power strips include surge protection, it is a desirable feature, especially for expensive and sensitive electronics. Surge protectors guard your devices against voltage spikes caused by lightning, power outages or other electrical problems, thus extending their lifespan.
Multiple Outlet Power Strip with Surge Protection
Power strips with surge protection add an additional layer of security for your electronics. Surges, sudden increases in voltage, can stem from lightning strikes, power outages, or even other large appliances switching on/off. These volt surges can damage or degrade your electronics over time. A power strip with surge protection, however, absorbs these surges, protecting your devices.
Not all power strips include surge protection, so ensure to check product specifications carefully. If your electronics are valuable and you want to prolong their lifespan, consider investing in a surge protector power strip. It’s worth bearing in mind that even surge protectors have their limits, so robust surge protection is paramount for areas with frequent lightning or unstable power.
Top Brands in the Market
When it comes to power strips, some brands stand out due to consistent quality and innovation in their products. These brands, some of which have established international reputations, are known for their reliable power strips that fuse functionality with safety.
Belkin, for instance, is renowned for its robust power strips, including those with surge protection. Their products feature durable construction and are often accompanied by warranties offering compensation for any devices damaged during a power surge.
Another acclaimed brand, Anker, is recognized for their USB power strips, which are ideal for a modern home with various USB-powered devices. Their products are lauded not only for quality but also for their sleek, compact designs and smart-charging technology.
APC is also notable, particularly for its energy-efficient smart power strips. These products are capable of auto power-off idle devices, leading to energy conservation and reduced electricity bills.
Choosing the Right Power Strip for Your Needs
Not all power strips are created equal, and the perfect one depends on your specific needs. Before purchasing, consider the following factors:
Firstly, the number of outlets needed. Calculate not just current but future needs as well. For instance, if you are setting up a home office and anticipate more gadgets in the future, go for a power strip with more outlets.
Secondly, the environments, specifically whether you’ll use it indoors or outdoors. If you need a power strip for outdoor activities or workshops, make sure it’s designed to withstand such conditions.
Finally, your budget. While it’s important to get a power strip that meets your criteria, it should also fit within your budget. Do note, however, that a cheaper power strip might not necessarily be cost-effective in the long run. It could lack essential safety features or not be as durable, necessitating replacements that could eventually cost more.
How to Install Multiple Outlet Power Strips
Proper installation is key to ensuring the optimal functioning and longevity of a power strip. Start by positioning your power strip in a dry and spacious area. This prevents liquid spillage or overheating that might trigger potential dangers. Also, make sure to place it as close to the plug point as possible to avoid unnecessary tension on the cords.
Once positioned, plug in your devices one by one. Ensure the plug’s prongs are fully inserted into the outlet, without any metal part of the plug exposed. Distribute your appliances evenly across the available outlets rather than overloading one side, which can lead to power imbalances and potential safety risks. Also, remember not to “daisy-chain” power strips or extension cords together, as this significantly increases the risk of overloading, overheating, or even fire.
Finally, always keep the power strip’s capacity in mind. Do not overload the strip beyond its maximum ampere rating. It’s also crucial to ensure the devices plugged into it – taken together – do not exceed the strip’s power rating.
Best Practices in Using Power Strips
Although power strips bring convenience, their improper use can be dangerous. Keep them away from water to avoid potential electrocution. Also, unplug them when not in use, especially during a power outage or a thunderstorm, to avert electrical surges.
Make sure you regularly inspect your power strips for any signs of damage or overheating. Replace them if they become warm to touch, emit a burning smell, or if their cord becomes frayed. Power strips are not meant to be long-term solutions; therefore, consider installing more outlets if you constantly need power strips.
Finally, use them for light-load appliances only like chargers, lamps, or computers. Power strips are not suitable for heavy appliances such as heaters, fridges, or air conditioners, which demand a lot of current and can overload the power strip.
USB Power Strips
As the digital wave heightens, most devices now come with USB charging capabilities. USB power strips are, therefore, becoming increasingly popular for their convenience. They incorporate both standard outlets and USB outlets, suiting a variety of devices, from laptops to smartphones.
While most USB power strips adhere to the USB 2.0 standard for power output, some advanced models feature higher-capacity USB ports that support fast charging up to 2.4 Amps (compared to standard 1.1 Amps). Some also come with smart charging technology that detects the appropriate power supply required for a connected device, protecting it from potential power surges or overload.
Remember, as convenient as they are or however many devices they accommodate, USB power strips should also not be overloaded beyond the specified total amperage. A rule of thumb is to ensure that the total amperage required by all connected devices does not exceed 80% of the power strip’s total capacity.
Benefits of Smart Power Strips
A smart power strip brings together the convenience of a traditional strip with features that provide energy efficiency and intelligent control of appliances. Like a standard power strip, a smart strip allows devices to plug into multiple outlets simultaneously. However, it also protects against power surges and reduces stand-by power consumption, a prevalent issue linked to “phantom energy” waste.
Perhaps, the most distinct feature of a smart power strip is its connectedness and programmability. Through a Wi-Fi connection, users can control and program the smart strip remotely using a mobile app. This means you can turn on or off the devices connected to the strip from any location and even schedule automatic power on and off times, which can be particularly handy for appliances like lamps and coffee makers.
What’s more, some models tie into smart home ecosystems, enabling voice control and triggering routines based on other smart home devices’ status. By enhancing your energy-saving efforts and offering more control over your electronics, smart power strips ensure greater efficiency and comfort in homes and offices.
Outdoor Power Strips
Outdoor power strips serve a similar function to their indoor counterparts but are specifically designed for outdoor use. They extend power sources outdoors while providing protection from environmental factors, including dust, water, and direct sunlight, making them ideal for garden, patio, workshop or garage use.
When looking for an outdoor power strip, key features to consider include waterproof and weather-resistant capabilities. You also need to consider the cord length. Some models come with long cords – up to 10 feet – for added flexibility and convenience. They should also ideally have safety features like automatic shutdown and surge protection to safeguard your electrical appliances.
Whilst outdoor power strips offer the flexibility of access to electricity outdoors, remember, safety always comes first – these strips must always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to mitigate any hazards.
Office Usage: Multiple Outlet Power Strips
In today’s digitally-driven workspace, the demand for power supply to run multiple devices – from computers and printers to smartphones – is higher than ever. Resume. Multiple outlet power strips provide convenient access to electricity for these devices, reducing clutter and the need for numerous individual wall outlets.
A carefully chosen power strip can also enhance safety and improve energy efficiency in the office. For instance, getting a power strip with built-in surge protection can save expensive office equipment from damaging power spikes. Moreover, with the advent of smart power strips, offices can implement power schedules, minimizing energy consumption during off-hours.
However, it’s essential to use power strips appropriately in an office setting. They should not be overloaded or used as permanent wiring solutions. Regular inspection of power strips for signs of damage, wear, or overheating can help prevent potential office fires. Paying attention to these details will ensure a safe, hassle-free, and efficient working environment.
Space-Saver: Power Strip Towers
The concept of power strip towers revolutionizes the way we access electrical outlets. Unlike the conventional horizontal design, power strip towers use a vertical style which is not only a space-saving solution but also makes the outlets more accessible. Combining several sockets and USB ports in one tower, it offers significant practicality and versatility to cater to your diverse electronics.
Most power strip towers come with independent on/off switches for each layer or outlets, providing more control over electricity use. This feature helps avoid unplugging cables to save energy, which can significantly prolong the lifespan of your electronic devices. Some models also offer surge protection or overload protection to add more safeguarding layers for your gadgets and appliances.
Notable Power Strip Towers
Some power strip towers to consider include models from brands such as BESTEK and JACKYLED. These feature a combination of outlets and USB ports, with surge protection built-in and independent control sections.
Legal Regulations and Compliance related to Power Strips
Power strips are subject to various legal regulations and standards to ensure their safety and reliability. Multiple nationally and internationally recognized testing laboratories (such as UL, ETL, and CE) certify power strips, ensuring they meet safety standards. Therefore, when purchasing a power strip, look for these certifications to guarantee the product’s safety.
Power strips in the United States must comply with the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These rules dictate the power strips should not be daisy-chained or have their cords plugged into each other, nor should they be used as a substitute for permanent wiring.
Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to severe repercussions, including fines or other penalties. More importantly, non-compliant power strips can pose a significant safety risk, including fire hazards or electric shocks.
Future of Multiple Outlet Power Strips
The future of multiple outlet power strips is expected to align with the increasing technological advancements. Today, we’re observing the emergence of USB-C ports in power strips, providing fast-charging capability for the latest gadgets.
Furthermore, power strips will likely continue to evolve with smart technology, offering more sophisticated programming and remote control functions. We can also expect to see advances in energy-saving features to meet the growing demand for energy efficiency and sustainability.
The integration of artificial intelligence might be another step forward for the power strips. As AI is making a wave in the home automation sector, it is logical to assume that power strip manufacturers may explore this avenue, thereby opening a whole new realm of possibilities like predictive analysis for device usage or automatic power management.
Consequently, as technology provides us with new ways to build more features and safety measures into power strips, their acceptance and market value are only set to increase in the future.
We’ve come a long way from the simple power strip to technologically-enriched smart strips, providing us with both convenience and safety features. They have proven their worth in both homes and offices, proving indispensable for our increasingly tech-heavy lifestyles. Whether it’s the traditional horizontal strip, space-saving power strip towers, or even outdoor strips with weather-resistant features, the range is extensive and diverse.
And the future looks even brighter. With the continued integration of technology like smart controls and AI, power strips are set to become more helpful and efficient. As it continues to evolve, they will offer greater advantages in energy savings, convenience, and safety. The only challenge is to choose the right one that best fits our needs.
We’d love for your input – is there a particular brand or model of a power strip that you swear by? Have you tried using smart strips or strip towers, and what was your experience like? Are there any factors you specifically look for when choosing a power strip, or any interesting usage tips you’d like to share? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments so that we can all learn from each other. And if you have any questions about power strips, post them down there too. We’ll be glad to answer those queries!