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#63157 - 03/08/06 01:19 PM Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
RobbieD Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 238
Loc: Canada
Hi, just looking for opinions on the proper use of power bars and extension cords.

Where I work there are buildings that are used for accomodations and many people have appliances in their rooms.

They are limited to the types of appliances, basically they are allowed a microwave and a fridge.

Many people have been using power bars and extension cords to supply these appliances.

I am recommending that power bars and extension cords are not to be used to supply these appliances.

I know that fridges usually say don't use extension cords in the manufacturer instructions but I don't think that microwaves say it.

I think that the use of power bars and extension cords with these appliances could cause problems because the people are most likely going to overload the circuit.

Are there any published recommendations on the proper use of these and what is your opinion on their use?

Thanks

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#63158 - 03/08/06 01:37 PM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
Dave T Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 157
Loc: Waukesha, WI, USA
In my experience extension cords are a not allowed unless they are temporary such as making an AV presentation, etc. List power bars with sn OCPD are allowed but can not be daisy chained.

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#63159 - 03/08/06 03:33 PM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
JBD Offline
Member

Registered: 07/12/01
Posts: 599
Loc: WI, USA
How would the use of power bars lead to overloading a circuit if the occupant is limited to 2 appliances?

My computer work station has 8 plugs yet its total current draw is probably less than 4A except for the 30secs it takes to scan or print a page.

The problem with extension cords and appliances is voltage drop caused by the typical 18-16AWG cords most people use. I have a "dorm" size refrigerator in my basement that says I can use it with an "appliance" rated extension cord.

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#63160 - 03/08/06 03:40 PM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
RobbieD Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 238
Loc: Canada
fridge
microwave
tv
computer
stereo

I know that computers and electronic items don't draw much but some people use a power bar to plug in a fridge and microwave.

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#63161 - 03/08/06 03:51 PM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
Rewired Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 567
Loc: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
I see those used by the hundreds in the housing complexes we look after... Usually if its a good quality cord or power bar of the correct length, not overloaded or daisy chained, and not being used in place of permanent wiring (fastened to the wall or ceiling) we will not say anything... If its a cube tap or multi outlet tap being used in a kitchen, some cheap dollar store piece of junk, or being used as permanent wiring, the landlord gets notified and we remove it or have the tenant remove it... Personally I do not have a problem with using cords or power bars as long as they are good heavy quality items and not used as permanent wiring.. I usually make up cords or " splitters" for my own use out of heavy cabtire and Specification materials or devices.

A.D

[This message has been edited by Rewired (edited 03-08-2006).]

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#63162 - 03/08/06 05:09 PM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
RobbieD Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 238
Loc: Canada
So, I guess I will just get them to follow the manufacturer's instructions as far as supplying power to their appliances.

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#63163 - 03/09/06 07:45 AM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
Sixer Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 264
Loc: Canada
Some of the better power bars have a built-in circuit breaker, so an option might be to require using one with an integral breaker. I have one that limits the current to 10 amps.
_________________________
Sixer

"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"

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#63164 - 03/09/06 08:27 AM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
Dave T Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 157
Loc: Waukesha, WI, USA
I agree with the loading concept, as we understand what loads we are plugging in.
But do the other have a clue? You place a power strip under a secretary’s desk for her computer, and other minor loads and then she plugs in a heater.
In addition, OCPDs should never be intentionally overloaded. The though of that we can continually add things to the circuit and depend upon the OCPD to protect the circuit which is not an acceptable practice.
And last, the fire inspectors the do the inspections in the counties where I live will not allow the use of an extension cord in a commercial/business complex only listed power strips with integral an OCPD. They will not allow power strips to be daisy chained either.
Anyway you look at it extension cords by themselves don't have OCP and are susceptible to being damaged. You start daisy chaining power strips and now you are intentionally relying on their OCPDs to protect from overload, which is not acceptable.
We would have not problem personally as we understand what loads are. But it's the others that don't have a clue.

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#63165 - 03/09/06 10:17 AM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
dougwells Offline

Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1228
Loc: kamloops BC Canada
I just replaced a receptacle that was burn and the plug on the power strip was burned also, I think the culprit was the portable electric Heater.

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#63166 - 03/09/06 10:50 AM Re: Opinion on Power Bars and Extension Cords
JBD Offline
Member

Registered: 07/12/01
Posts: 599
Loc: WI, USA
So instead of a plug strip would you mount 3-4 duplex receptacles under a desk? If they are all on the same circuit, what prevents it from being overloaded just like a power bar?

The problem comes in when people do not read instructions nor follow directions, on top of it they buy improper equipment.

In order to have the NEC prevent the misuse of cords and power bars, wouldn't the AHJ have to inspect each installation. I can see it now - pull a permit before you can plug anything in, but make sure you have performed a circuit loading study first.

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