Don't Plug An Electric Heater Into A Power Strip

Now that it's starting to cool down, you're tempted to throw an extra blanket on the couch. And, of course, plug in an electric heater. But somehow you've managed to fill up all the sockets and plugs are at a premium. No problem, you think, I've got a power strip. Well let me say: nononononono.

Photo: Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper via Flickr

Fire District #1 of Umatilla County, Oregon, has a little demonstration of what can happen when you plug an electric heater into a power strip:

Photo: Umatilla County Fire District #1

That looks bad, right? Apartment Therapy writes that in a now-deleted Facebook post (the perils of going mega-viral, I guess), the fire department warned, "These units are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for [an electric] heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow."

Remember that power strips are not surge protectors, but even still, many electric heaters come with specific instructions, often to plug them only directly into the socket. Stay warm and stay not on fire!

Here's Your Reminder That You Should Never Plug A Space Heater Into a Power Strip [Apartment Therapy]


Comments

    Remember that power strips are not surge protectors...Pictured: A surge protector.

      But also remember surge protectors degrade over time and stop functioning.

      I was thinking the same lol

      It does make you wonder what the point in buying a fancy power board actually is if it's going to overheat and catch fire anyway. Although, it's possible the one the article was referring to was faulty or just shoddily made.

      You'd hope something like this: https://www.bunnings.com.au/hpm-8-outlet-plugboss-surge-protected-powerboard_p4330155 would be safe to use.

      It's also worth pointing out that not all heaters are made the same. A quick search came up with heaters ranging from about 600w to 2400w. I'd suspect that a lower wattage one would be safe in a power strip (especially if little other load is on the strip) but whacking a 2400W heater on a strip... maybe not. Especially if you also using it to run your 1000W PC or a Microwave or something.

        It's a HPM which are a good brand.

          Fair enough. Though that doesn't stop knock-offs. Remember the problems people were having with phone chargers that turned out to be fakes?

            As Bunnings buys direct from the manufacturer it makes it quite hard for them to be knock offs as opposed to say Amazon where they resell pretty much what ever.

              Were you referring to the one in the link I posted? I thought you were talking about the one in the article being an HPM.

              Of course I wouldn't be worried about buying the one from Bunnings (that's why I linked it). But who knows where the one in the article came from? I've seen powerboards in dollar stores and flea markets, I assume in the US it's similar.

                Yeah, sorry I was.
                But agree with the sentiment, I'd never buy 2 dolar shop electrical.

                  Yeah I've been burned (not literally thankfully) by cheapo power boards in the past. Got some no-namer from BigW and it felt flimsy and if you shook it you could hear a rattle inside it like there was a lose screw or something rolling about inside it.

                  I always try to get Arlec or something of similar quality these days, even if I could get ten $2 ones for the same price.

    Apart from a couple of wires, small strips of metal and a plastic case - there is very little in a power board to combust. Usually, it overheats and sets fire to something else its sitting on like the carpet, rug, etc.

    To meet Australian standards a power board has to be capable of delivering 10amps continuously, but your wall socket is capable of 16, so unless you have a breakered power board you can overload it's rated capacity if you plug to much in.

    All a "surge protector" power board is, is a standard power boards with a neon light and 3 MOV's (metal oxide varistors) between active, nuetral and ground, every time they are hit with a voltage spike, the voltage they clamp to decreases, until eventually it hits normal mains voltage, tries to clamp that and explodes in a fireball. Sometimes contained, sometimes not.

    What you should have mentioned is a power board with a resettable circuit breaker but no surge protector, this is the safe option

    I should also mention dollar store powerboards love using thin wire, if you dont trust the source, dont trust them for more than 700W on australian circuits

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