It always seems like there are never enough outlets around and electronics never have a long enough cord, which is when surge protectors and extension cords come in handy. Can they be used with each other, though?
What You Need to Know About Surge Protectors and Extension Cords
Before we get into the nitty gritty of plugging stuff into other stuff, it’s important to first know a little about surge protectors and extension cords. Otherwise, you could be in for a world of misfortune if you just start daisy-chaining surge protectors together.
Surge protectors, as you can guess from the name, protect electronics from power surges and spikes, which are sudden increases in voltage. These can happen during lightning strikes, power outages, or just a random malfunction in the power grid.
RELATED: Protect Your Gadgets: Why You Need a Surge Protector
Think of voltage as the amount of water pressure in a pipe. Electronics like a steady stream of pressure coming from the source, but when a sudden surge of pressure comes barreling through, it can overwhelm electronics and result in damage.
And you should note that not all power strips are also surge protectors. Regular power strips just provide extra reach and outlets.
As for extension cords, they’re a bit simpler and a more common in households. However, they’re not all created equal, and you have to be aware of a few things before you grab just any extension cord and use it to power your devices, most notably the “gauge” of the cord (a.k.a. the thickness of the wiring).
RELATED: What Kind of Extension Cord Should I Use?
Of course, a big question you might have is whether or not surge protectors and extension cords can peacefully coexist, and the answer is: technically, yes, but you shouldn’t.
Can You Plug a Surge Protector Into an Extension Cord?
On paper, yes, you can. The biggest thing is making sure the extension cord can handle the same amount of load as the surge protector (or more).
For example, this Belkin surge protector has a 14-gauge cord, so you’ll want to make sure that your extension cord is 14 gauge or better. Otherwise, you risk putting too much load on the extension cord and creating a fire hazard for yourself.
RELATED: Why (and When) You Need to Replace Your Surge Protector
At the end of the day, though, it’s actually not recommended to use an extension cord for anything more than temporary use, mostly because you risk subjecting the extension cord to prolonged wear and tear for which it’s not designed. Plus, that extra connection where you plug into the extension cord is an added connection that can become loose over time and create risk. But most importantly, it’s against OSHA and NEC regulations.
So what should you do instead? Either use a surge protector with a long enough cord to reach the nearest outlet, or install an extra outlet closer to where you need it. These options aren’t the most convenient, but they’re the safest.
Can You Plug Extension Cords Into Another Extension Cord?
Again, technically you can, but it’s not recommended, as it’s considered a fire hazard. And it’s also against OSHA and NEC regulations.
It mostly comes down to length, as extension cords can only be so long—the longer the cord, the more electrical resistance, which decreases the amount of electricity that can be fed to devices. When you start to add on extension cords, you run the risk of making the run too long and under-powering your devices—not safe.
Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous section, the extra connections where you plug your extension cords into one another are added failure points that don’t really need to be there in the first place.
So instead of chaining extensions cords to one another, do yourself a favor and just use one long extension cord for your needs.
Can You Plug a Surge Protector Into Another Surge Protector?
This is perhaps the biggest no-no out of everything mentioned here, and if you’re at the point where you’re running out of plugs on your surge protector, you probably have too many things plugged in anyway. So adding on another surge protector to that will just create another problem on top of your current one.
Also, the protection capabilities of a surge protector (as opposed to just a regular power strip) can be interfered with if another surge protector is plugged into it, possibly to the point where neither surge protector can do its job effectively.
RELATED: What’s the Difference Between a Power Strip and a Surge Protector?
On top of that, most surge protector manufacturers void the warranty if you daisy-chain them together. Oh, and did we mention this is also against OSHA and NEC regulations? You probably noticed a recurring theme here.
In the end, you probably won’t hurt anything if you take the right precautions (making sure extension cords are rated for the power output, etc.), but it’s not really a risk that’s worth taking, especially considering that there are other (and better) solutions to take advantage of.