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Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,374
Likes: 7
Any self respecting EC that installs 40 cent outlets in an office building should think about selling power strips!!!

Yes, strips are all over, I find them every day, they are usually hiding for TCO or Finals, but if & when I come back (CO or re-inspect) they magically appear. THe EC puts quads in for desks, the cubes have factory harnesses and most have 3 hots, 2 neuts and two grounds, but those strips always show up.

One guy said, "I have a heater, calc, PC, monitor, radio, clock, coffee warmer, charger for lap top, wireless hub, and a few other things" "I need the 3 strips" Heck, he had a 20 amp circuit, and 2 duplexes in the cube, What do I say????


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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 174
"If 'ya ask me, it would be cheaper to install regular outlets. "

But these Surge Strips are not regular outlets. They protect against surges and spikes in the power. Consider the cost of replacing a server, or all the PC's in a building if there is a nearby lightning strike, and it is not cheaper to install regular outlets.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 625
So, what is the situation with a lab bench that has outlets built into it, all connected to a building outlet though single 14 gauge SJ cable? Some posters in this thread argued for desks and the like with recpts built in; is this different from that? Is this any different from outlet strips?

Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 812
Thanks for telling me guys. Sorry, I forgot to add up all of that stuff, breakers, cable, ect... I guess your right, these things could save all of your equipment. (Computers, printers, monitors, fax machines, ect.)

Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 518
Since my last post, I have been called to several sites to replace the outlet strip/extension cord assemblies with recognised permaent wiring assemblies ("plugmold").
I find it interesting that UL isn't concerned about the possibility that you might use plugmold to put 'too many receptacles' on a branch circuit.
In many of these sites, plugmold is used, because there is a desire to not disturb the asbestos in the walls.
I also note that the various plugmold products do not provide the surge protection often associated with outlet strips. As some plugmold is set up as a multiwire branch circuit, I consider surge protection very important.

It sure is a lot easier to find a violation, than to solve problems.

As a footnote, I see no justification for the ways we apply code to the numbers of receptacles on a circuit. Nor do I see an easy way for code to address this 'design' issue.
While too few circuits is often the cause of problems, and complicates troubleshooting, there are many times when we know what a receptacle will be used for- and the load is known to be trivial.
There is no substitute for good design. Yet, I doubt that we will see every desk have its' own two circuits!

Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 812
The first post reminds me of a sewing shop in NJ. It had about 30 6Amp sewing machines plugged into about 10 daisy chained outlet strips! One of the strips appeared to be homemade, with a cardboard box with 8 outlets/4 duplexes and a real regular service panel circuit breaker. (Don't ask me how they connected it.) And one of the strips was industrial sized!! I mean big! About 30 outlet big! Plugged into a 6-outlet version, into a gemtap, plugged into an 8outlet strip, into a sixoutlet strip, and finally through the cord to the regular floor mounted outlet! And one more thing, I've seen these strips wired w/ 18 gauge cord. I know 18AWG copper can't carry 15 amps. How do they manage to make this work? (I know this because one time I fried one's switch and ecide to take a screwdriver and pair of wire cutters to it.)

Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 394
Let's face it. It is not politically expedent to crack down on the strips in any meaningful way. Government works because, in some way, the people allow it to. If there have been over 2,000,000 recalled, how many do you suppose there are in use? Make them illegal and try to take them away and you have a huge number of people united against one policy.
I have 3 of them under my computer desk at home. I don't have 18 devices but I do have several "wall wart" transformer power supplies that occupy the space of several outlets for a load of 20 watts. Until someone makes a practical device/panel to meet the needs of the modern computerized office, the strips are a reality.

Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 201
I would be interested to know if that one is actually listed. It doesn't have a number on the box and it doesn't say it is listed. What does the strip have on it for marking?

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Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis, Utility Power Guy

Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 119
I am a bit perplexed that as long as this thread has been posted, no one has actually answered the questions posed in the first post.

First of all, this "strip" appears to have been approved under UL 1449 according to the picture supplied. The scope of this standard covers "transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS) intended for permanently connected, cord-connected and direct plug-in applications, designed for repeated limiting of transient voltage surges as specified in the Standard on 50 or 60 Hz power circuits not exceeding 600 V."

So... yes you can use these devices permanently.

However, if the device was approved under UL 1363 "Relocatable Power Taps" then the scope of the standard says that the equipment is designed for temporary use.

Now to get to the "daisy chaining" issue. As the scope (see above) of 1449 indicates, this type of device is only approved for "direct plug-in applications" (i.e., into an approved permanently wired receptacle). In July 2004, UL 1363 was updated to specifically prohibit daisy chaining. This standard now says, "A cord-connected Relocatable Power Tap is not intended to be connected to another cord-connected Relocatable Power Tap."

In the Mar/Apr 2002 issue of IAEA News, this question was also addressed in the UL Question Corner.

On a related note, UL in its spring04 electrical newsletter discussed the safe or should I say unsafe use of RPTs in healthcare occupancies.

As has been pointed out in several other posts... the real problem is not the "permanent" use of these devices... it is the overloading of the device. I am sure that many of you are aware of the requirement in NEC 210.21(B)(2) essentially says that outlet devices must not be loaded beyond 80% of their capacity. OSHA has a similar requirement in 1910.304(b)(2) that while not as specific covers the same usage issue.

"Strips" like the equipment discussed here are outlet devices and therefore users must be "trained" if necessary in how to properly use the device. In workplaces in the US, this training is required (under OSHA 1910.332) to ensure that unqualified persons are informed of safe electrical work practices that "are necessary for their safety." This is obviously a requirement for the employer and not a contractor.

However, we can't police the stupid things people do in the privacy of their own homes.

Joe... I wish I always had my camera with me. I have personally found numerous examples of these devices that have failed. Listed and labeled devices that have been abused by the user. I have two photos, the best one I actually found in .... hold your breath... a fire department. No dispespect meant to any fire inspectors that may read this post... but, it has been my experience that fire inspectors have a thorough understanding of NFPA 101 but minimal understanding and training in NFPA 70.

Sorry about the edits, I was kicked off the server twice while composing this post.

[This message has been edited by safetygem (edited 11-09-2004).]

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 518
Great response, Safetygem!

UL standards are not often actually seen, are pricey, etc. This makes it hard to have an informed opinion. If I had my druthers, UL would post them on the web- for free!

Which brings up a point that often gets overlooked: darn few thing are ever submitted to UL composed of materials designed for the intended application. Rather, UL takes the assembly, and evaluates it to see if it measures up. They really don't care if the thing is made of peanut butter!
So, it is conceivable that the infamous handybox/extension cord combo would, if submitted, pass UL's tests. Absent access to the UL standard, we really don't know.
I can say, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that not a single "outlet strip" made would pass UL tests for "pendant" devices- and OSHA tries to apply NEC "pendant" rules to such made-up assemblies.

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