Why You Shouldn’t Plug Too Many Devices Into a Single Outlet

June 8, 2018

If you own an older home, there may not be enough electrical outlets inside or outside, leading you to use power strips. Unfortunately, this can overload outlets. For safety’s sake, don’t plug too many devices into a single outlet! Below, a seasoned electrician in Carlsbad, NM explains how to avoid overloading the electrical outlets in your home:

  • Know that overloaded outlets can cause fires: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that overloaded circuits and outlets cause more than 5,000 minor to deadly residential fires each year. Of all the months in the year, the most common time homeowners tend to use more electricity and overload their outlets is during the winter holiday season. Yes, circuit breakers are supposed to trip and shut down if they detect an overloaded outlet, but all it takes is bad wiring or more than one outlet leading to a single circuit to create sparks.
  • Calculate your home’s overload point: There’s an equation you can use to figure out the overload point of your circuit breaker. First, your home should have 120 volts of power. To calculate amperage, divide the number of watts of power your household uses by the volts. Check the labels on your breaker box; a residential circuit breaker can manage 15 or 20 amps, which is 1800 to 2400 watts, maximum. However, it’s recommended that you not exceed 1440 to 1920 watts. If you suspect your wiring is bad or there’s not enough voltage to power your home, contact a local electrician in Carlsbad, NM.
  • Know which breakers correspond to which outlets: Another safety concern has to do with having multiple outlets on a breaker. To find out how much you’re using, map out your home’s outlets and their corresponding breakers. For example, it’s important to know if the guest bathroom is on the same outlet as your kitchen appliances, because turning on a hair dryer or several lights might max out that particular circuit. Having a good idea of this can prevent the overuse of circuits and fuses.
  • Constant power use vs. occasional use: Are you maxing out an outlet constantly, or only occasionally? A hair dryer pulls a lot of power, but you don’t leave it on the entire day. Microwaves also draw a lot of power. Your hair dryer and microwave both running at the same time on the same outlet can be dangerous. The safest route is to not use higher wattage appliances on the same outlet.
  • Install more electrical outlets: While adding more outlets is a smart way to avoid overtaxing your electrical system, you still need to make sure you’re not overloading a circuit. It’s for this reason you should hire a licensed professional electrician to install any new outlets. They will test your system before routing the new outlets to existing circuits so you don’t end up with a safety issue in your home.

For more information about adding more outlets or upgrading your home’s electrical system, don’t hesitate to contact the team at JB Electric LLC. Call us to schedule an appointment with a skilled electrician in Carlsbad, NM!

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