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Thread: Power Strips vs. Extension Cords vs. Additional Receptacles

  1. #1
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    Power Strips vs. Extension Cords vs. Additional Receptacles

    Hello All,
    I'm trying to make a case to someone as to why you would install multiple outlets in the wall versus using extension cords or power strips. I'm interested in getting peoples feedback on the pro's & con's of both scenarios. I've started a list below but am hoping to get insights from people who have more expertise and experience than myself. If you do have some input I'd love to have an idea of your background as well to be able to put some context/weight to your insights.

    Pro's of Multiple Outlets
    1) Power Strips & Extensions cords increase electrical resistance and potential overheating
    2) Less of a tripping hazard
    3) Aesthetically more pleasing with fewer cords on the floor
    Con's of Multiple Outlets
    1) Doesn't reach as far as an extension cord or power strip
    2) Installation process is more cumbersome


    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Code wise you cannot plug a power strip into an extension cord.

    Its more of a listing issue than an NEC one.

  3. #3
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    We frequently run into extension cords having to be eliminated at commercial occupancies after a fire inspection. I am not sure about the specific chain of laws that grant the fire marshall authority on this but Im sure its there.
    Ethan Brush - East West Electric. NY, WA. MA

    "You can't generalize"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrofelon View Post
    We frequently run into extension cords having to be eliminated at commercial occupancies after a fire inspection. I am not sure about the specific chain of laws that grant the fire marshall authority on this but Im sure its there.
    Thanks electrofelon,
    That's an interesting one! I'll have to look into any codes on that.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by E40 View Post
    Hello All,
    I'm trying to make a case to someone as to why you would install multiple outlets in the wall versus using extension cords or power strips. I'm interested in getting peoples feedback on the pro's & con's of both scenarios. I've started a list below but am hoping to get insights from people who have more expertise and experience than myself. If you do have some input I'd love to have an idea of your background as well to be able to put some context/weight to your insights.

    Pro's of Multiple Outlets
    1) Power Strips & Extensions cords increase electrical resistance and potential overheating
    Do you have any actual evidence to back up this claim?

    2) Less of a tripping hazard
    why would this be? extension cords are typical run along walls where they are not a trip hazard anymore than what plugs into them

    3) Aesthetically more pleasing with fewer cords on the floor
    pretty subjective. you are going to have the same exact number of cords for the utilization devices.

    Con's of Multiple Outlets
    1) Doesn't reach as far as an extension cord or power strip
    If you put them every 6 feet along the wall it would likely be fine.

    2) Installation process is more cumbersome
    only after the fact. if they are installed at construction time it is not much different.

    Thanks in advance!
    It is mostly an aesthetic thing. Extension cords used appropriately are no more dangerous than fixed wiring despite what the code says about them. the extension cord is made of the same material the lamp cord is made of that plugs into the extension cord or the wall receptacle. They are equally likely to be damaged or be a trip hazard.
    Bob

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersonra View Post
    It is mostly an aesthetic thing. Extension cords used appropriately are no more dangerous than fixed wiring despite what the code says about them. the extension cord is made of the same material the lamp cord is made of that plugs into the extension cord or the wall receptacle. They are equally likely to be damaged or be a trip hazard.
    Thanks petersonra,
    For your comments on the Pro's:
    1) I don't have evidence of my own but that's what I've read in several different articles. I'm certainly not an expert here.
    2) While I agree that if an extension cord is run very neatly along a wall it may present a low tripping hazard, that doesn't always seem to be the case. At least not with the extensions cords I've seen.
    3) You're right that all the device cords would still be there, but you'd have one less cord from the power strip / extension cord, and all your devices would be plugged into the wall instead of somewhere along the floor potentially in a more visible place. I agree with you that this is subjective however.

    For your comments on the Con's:
    I agree!

    Eric

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrofelon View Post
    We frequently run into extension cords having to be eliminated at commercial occupancies after a fire inspection. I am not sure about the specific chain of laws that grant the fire marshall authority on this but Im sure its there.
    I have had the same experience many times.

    Both the NEC and OSHA have sections prohibiting cords from taking the place of permanent wiring.

    However ... there is some difference in opinion to what specific cords the NEC applies to.

  8. #8
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    605.5 Extension cords. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures, extended through walls, ceilings or floors, or under doors or floor coverings, nor shall such cords be subject to environmental damage or physical impact. Extension cords shall be used only with portable appliances.

    From 2012 International Fire Code. Yes fire inspectors love to write these up. There are specific exceptions, but mostly prohibited.

  9. #9
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    We use metal plug strips with 15 ft cords. Our FD does not allow extension cords, but they like plug strips, esp the metal ones. Office workers will bring in from home all kinds of electrical devices, heaters, cords cube taps..
    Moderator-Washington State
    Ancora Imparo

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom baker View Post
    We use metal plug strips with 15 ft cords. Our FD does not allow extension cords, but they like plug strips, esp the metal ones. Office workers will bring in from home all kinds of electrical devices, heaters, cords cube taps..
    If we look under the desks, how many would we find with just a portable heater plugged into a 15' multi-tap unit, instead of a 2' dedicated cord?
    There are hazards and there are risks in every part of our lives.
    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

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