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The Fire Risks from Daisy Chaining Electronics

Six plugs plugged into a multi plug outlet

In electrical wiring, the term ‘daisy chain’ is used to refer to a wiring technique of stringing multiple devices together in a sequence or a ring. The term can also refer to a series of devices connected to one another and sharing one power outlet, such as a series of power strips. The inherent risk in this setup is creating conditions where an electrical failure could damage multiple electronic devices, destroy fuses in a power surge, or cause a fire. The more likely risk is usually blowing a fuse over causing a fire, but there is still a potential for fire by stringing multiple extension cords and power strips together.

Safe Electrical Practices

The shortage of outlets and abundance of devices often makes daisy chaining seem like an effective solution to power woes, but the risk of blowing fuses or starting an electrical fire can be high. Overloading and short circuiting are common in daisy chain setups. To reduce the risk of fire and damage to your home’s outlets and wiring, keep in mind some helpful electrical practices.

  • Make sure the power strip and outlet can support the load. Check for lab certification and wattage limits on extension cords and power strips and make sure you are not overloading the circuit.

  • Use surge protectors with circuit breakers built in and powerstrips with overload protection. This will help protect the outlet and fuses from damage and reduce the likelihood of fire.

  • Don’t plug in more than one power strip into the same outlet. This can easily cause the circuit to become overloaded, increasing the risk of power outage from a blown fuse. Depending on how many items you have connected to the power strip and how updated your wiring is, this may or may not be a huge risk. It is, however, good practice to avoid doing this.

  • Avoid placing cords beneath rugs, carpet, furniture, and near water. If a fuse blows as a result of a overload because of an extension cord or power strip, you want to make sure there is nothing in the vicinity that can easily catch fire. It should go without saying to keep all cords and electronics away from any water or anywhere where water is released.

  • Consider having additional outlets installed if you are overly reliant on extension cords. If your home contains a spaghetti bowl of cords and power strips strung together with loads of electronics plugged into each one, consider having additional outlets installed to reduce the need for extension cords. Extension cords are primarily temporary and the risk of blowing a fuse and fire outbreak will be greatly reduced by eliminating this messy setup.
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