A power strip is a length of electrical sockets attached to the end of a flexible cable that plugs into an electrical receptacle. It is used where electrical appliances in proximity demand more wall receptacles than are available. You may encounter these in older homes that lack enough permanent electrical wall receptacles for the needs of today's families. Homeowners who understand the proper uses and limitations of power strips can be aware of potential electrical hazards caused by their misuse.
Power strips range in appearance from plastic-coated heads to banks of plug-in outlets encased in large metal boxes, often accompanied by LED switches that indicate when the units are turned on. Some models include a push button that automatically trips if the strip becomes too hot for safe operation.
Here are a few no-no's with power strips:
Note that while power strips are designed to distribute electricity, they do not regulate power flow or block electrical spikes or surges. Surge protection is incorporated into some power strips, but it should never be assumed that a power strip offers surge protection without inspecting the unit for the proper UL designation. The misconception that power strips are also surge protectors can lead to costly damage to electrical equipment during a power surge.
In summary, power strips are lengths of electrical sockets that allow multiple appliances to be powered; however, as with all types of extension cords, they should be used sparingly and temporarily with small appliances and electronics, rather than as a substitute for a permanent wall receptacle.