Power Strips

Written by Charles Peacock
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With an ever-increasing number of electronic gadgets flooding our homes, the issue of providing power to everything can become a real head scratcher. This is particularly true in older homes, which were built (and wired for electricity) with a much different set of needs in mind. Many old homes have one to two wall outlets in each room, providing space for barely more than a few lamps.

Many people solve their lack-of-outlets problem by laying extension cords all over the place. The advantage of using extension cords is that you can extend the socket to wherever you need it. This means you're no longer confined to keeping a lamp in a certain corner of the room simply because that's where the outlet happens to be. Many extension cords also have multiple inputs, which can expand one outlet to as many as four.

Keeping these advantages in mind, it's important to remember that extension cords are by no means an ideal solution for your home power needs. Too many people assume that using extension cords is just as safe as using wall outlets, but this is untrue for a variety of reasons. There are situations where extension cords are acceptable (particularly certain higher quality varieties), but in most cases there is usually a better alternative.

Increasing Your Power Options

The absolute best way to improve or expand your current electric outlet situation is to rewire your home or your room. This is a labor intensive and relatively expensive solution, but it is also one that has many benefits. If you find yourself chronically hindered by the outlet situation in an older home that you plan on living in for years to come, rewiring the place is actually a pretty good idea.

Rewiring your home or even a single room can actually make your home safer. This is particularly true in older homes that have old and deteriorating electrical wires. Replacing everything with newer equipment decreases the risk of electrical fires because modern electrical wiring and outlets are far safer than what was used in the past.

The other obvious benefit to rewiring is that you can customize your wiring to suit your particular power needs. If you know that you're going to use a particular room as an office, for example, you can plan ahead and place outlets in strategic positions. This will give you enough sockets for things like computer systems, fax machines and printers.

Getting More Power for Less Money

Of course, not every situation calls for opening holes in your walls and hiring a professional electrician. If all you need to do add a few more sockets to accommodate a new television or lamp, rewiring your room obviously isn't necessary. Situations like these can be resolved quite inexpensively, but you should still be careful not to go the extremely cheap route.

Using power strips in a room is a much better way to expand your outlet situation than by using lots of extension cords. Power strips have short cords for a reason: the longer the cord, the more resistance in the wire and the more likely it is to short out, overheat and even catch fire. Power strips usually use thick, insulated electrical wire, and they actually have fuses inside to catch electrical problems before they really escalate.

The fuses inside power strips actually have more than one function. First of all, they protect your sensitive electrical equipment from power surges caused by things like lightening storms. In addition, they will cut off the electrical circuit if there is a short somewhere along the line. This can help prevent further damage to other appliances if one happens to have a problem.

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