Overloading your extension cables

Extensions leads/ cord/ cables are very practical. They turn 1 into 5. They turn 2 into 10, and sometimes more. We all use them and for the most part they are very necessary. However it is important to know how to use them correctly. There is a way to use your electrical extension lead and there is a way not to use it. There have been cases where electrical extension leadhave been overloaded and this has resulted in them getting hot and catching fire. Hence this can be very dangerous. This article looks at the electrical extension leads and gives you some tips about how not to overload them.

Rules to avoid overloading your electric sockets
Overloading your electric extensions

What does electrical overloading mean?

Everything is fast these days. We all want our information quickly, we all expect things to be done quickly and this causes strain. We often use our smart phone and open multiple apps at the same time. Smart phones are designed for this and there is generally no problem. However if you open every application on your phone at the same time your phone will not be able to handle it. It will be overloaded with the pressure and may malfunction. The same applies for your electric extension leads. Extension leads are designed to be useful and helpful. But when you put too much current through them at the same time eventually they become overloaded.

Overloading your kitchen sockets - rules to avoid overloading
Overloading your kitchen sockets

What happens when an extension lead is overloaded?

When an extension lead is overloaded it will give off heat energy. You may see that part of it looks like it is melting or you may even see or smell smoke. Basically this can cause a fire in your home or school or place of work, wherever you are using the appliance. It can be a big danger to those around it. So it is important to take steps to mitigate this potential catastrophe.

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Overloading your electric extensions

Rules for calculating electrical overloads

The appliances using the extension lead should not add up to more than 13 Amps or 3000Watts. In order to calculate the overloading of sockets you can refer to the list below. This obviously depends on the type of extension lead or cross sectional area of cable used as the bigger the csa (cross sectional area) the more current it can take without heating up.This can be used as a guide to view the output voltage and wattage. Basing a 1,5mm2  cable on a 13amp fuse (capable of carrying 13amps on a 230volts supply)

 

Domestic Portable Appliance

Amps Used

Watts Used

Laptop

<0.5

65 – 100

Mobile phone charger

<0.5

<12

Kettle

13

3000

Satellite TV box

<0.5

30

Printer

<0.5

50

Radio

<0.5

40

Radiator

8.5

2000

DVD player

<0.5

28

Hair dryer

10.0

2200

Landline cordless telephone charger

<0.5

10

Computer monitor

<0.5

100

Desktop computer

3.0

700

Television 42″ HD

0.5

120

Games console

0.86

<200

Washing machine

10

2200

Toaster

9.0

2000

Tumble dryer

11.0

2500

Dishwasher

10.0

2200

Iron

12.5

2800

Microwave

4.5w

1000

Vacuum cleaner

9.0

2000

Radiator (oil filled)

13.0

3000

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The list above is very handy as it captures the main appliances that many people use in their kitchen and living room. As mentioned earlier remember to ensure that the total amps do not exceed 13Amps on a 1.5mm2 cable and the total wattage does not exceed 3000watts.

Please note that some extension leads can come in a different csa of the extension lead and will need a different fuse rating. For example if the extension lead is a 1mm2  csa, the fuse to use is a 7amp or 5amp. If one uses a 0.5mm2  extension lead then one  needs to put a 3amp fuse. If you have any questions please call us. We offer a free advice service.

Another tool that can be used is the socket overload calculator. The below calculator makes it easy to check which combinations may cause an electrical risk. Have a play with it to learn more.

For more safety information visit http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

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