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Perhaps the weakest link in the US electrical system
- Published on May 29, 2021 veröffentlicht
- I hope this discussion really strikes a cord.
(and hey, there's a pinned comment I think you should read)
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Comments • 18 700
Hey there! Correction time (and more thoughts!): THHN wire is what’s _inside_ the sheathing of Romex, which is actually classified as NM-B cable/wire. As in, the conducting wires are THHN, the whole thing together is an NM-B cable. Yep. So there’s that.
Also, I want to be clear that of the problems we have, this isn’t a huge one. Generally, when things get hot because of overloading, it’s at the connection point and not in the wire. For instance, a lot of electrical fires start at the plug/socket interface either because the connection is poor, there could be corrosion, etc. And sometimes they can happen when nothing is overloaded! This is one of the circumstances in which arc-fault circuit interrupters can save lives. It may well be the case that very few fires are started because of the problem we’re discussing in this video. Especially since outside of certain high-draw devices, the risk of overloading the actual conducting wire is low in the first place. That’s why I am comfortable using them!
That said, I remain perplexed that this is an issue we’ve let persist. Most electrical fires aren’t the result of a single thing; they’re a cascade of individually not-great circumstances combining to make a bad situation. In order to reduce the risk of fires, we’ve continually been making the not-great things less bad. That way an increasingly large number of bad circumstances have to align for a fire to happen. Simply put, I think allowing unfused 16 gauge extension cords into the market is a potentially bad link in the chain that we could probably do with cutting out.
In fairness, it used to be much worse. 18 gauge (maybe even 20 gauge) extension cords were available many years ago, but we at least had the sense to make 16 the minimum as time went on. However, as I hope I’ve demonstrated here, that can still be problematic. Pulling 20 amps through that cord made it get very hot quite quickly.
I scrolled down specifically to call out this error, pleasantly surprised to see it was corrected in the first comment. You are diligent, respect.
@Orangestardust No. I have personally witnessed a plumber "getting stuck" on 220V, unable to let go due to muscle "paralysis" ("cramp"?).
@Csongor Griff the coffee make must boil that water fast. 🤣
@JustANobody once an electrician always an electrician. Just may be licence lapsed ..
I think the wire in NMD is LIKE THHN.
You DO realize that with proper protection everywhere, my channel won't be able to operate, right?!
Good. Then you'll have to get a real job.
I heard that comment lol
Might be a good thing.
yes, but it has some fakes, cool to spread awareness, but are just..... eh
Hi Alec. During my career I developed and taught electrical training classes covering the NEC (NFPA70), Electrical Safety (NFPA70E) and Power Engineering and I have to tell you this was extremely well done. You covered many fundamentals of wiring and thoroughly explained a few of the hazards. Excellent content and context. I don't know how you research your material but you extracted critical details that aren't obvious and not well understood by the general populous. Great job, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
He does this so casually, but the guy must research topics until he’s basically a professional 😂
I work at a hardware store. One lady came in complaining her fuses kept blowing. So I sold her more, she came back a week later for more. She had told me she was only using a hot plate. Her friend ran into her. Turns out it was a small range type thing, microwave, coffeemaker and more. It was like everything in her kitchen was running off the same outlet. She wanted higher fuses. I said no it's a fire hazard. "But what if I'm home" no lady it's in your walls. You cannot see it.
After watching this video, I went and inspected my extension cable running my window mount AC unit in my bedroom. I had never considered the extension cord gauge size on the cord I was using for my AC (it was a super cheap one). Sure enough, it was nice and warm. Ended up buying a nice thick (I cant remember the gauge, maybe 14?) extension cord specifically to run my AC unit. Thanks for possibly saving my house from burning down!
@M0M0 probably don't post when drunk then
@Jonny- B ok I apologize, we are actually the same age and I was a little drunk at the time.
@M0M0 Ok, millennial that's a wannabe boomer.
@TheJunnutin Haha Yeah, no doubt. I moved outta my parents at 21 over a decade ago. Did the room mates thing for a year but said never again. Actually just finished paying off my first home!
@Jonny- B Well, for starters, it sounds like you're not living with your parents 😉
On the 'safer/less dangerous' linguistic quirk. I've run into a similar problem with 'feeling better'. Because if you're sick or injured, 'feeling better' can mean 'back to normal' OR 'still bad, but not as bad'.
@Nicholas Graham unsick is an amazing word, but no longer sick and now in good health also work. Sickn't is my personal favorite with friends though. There's also recovered, if you need a serious yet not wordy way of conveying "though I was sick I am no longer in that state"
any time there is a need to convey a scale, and a comparator word (specifically when the other end of the comparison is not stated, ie "better than what, and by how much?") is used to denote a place along that scale, this issue will arise. When this exists, there is a generally agreed upon scale, but there is no objective scale, so different people can assume different scales.
this is basically a more all-encompassing way to restate what Michael Kortsen said, but the point in doing so is to emphasize the need to point out that a scale is assumed, and that by clarifying what that scale is, there is no linguistic confusion. the issue is that people hate unnecessarily long sentences or phrases, hence the backlash on euphemisms, so really we should just replace "I am better" with something like "I am unsick" since there is no other simple word to describe overcoming an illness of your own accord
yeah that's when I feel I have to throw in "feeling a bit better," but that's more over text. spoken, the tone tells exactly whether you mean feeling good again or just less bad
Now I'm terrified of every plug in my house, thanks.
So You wouldn't like to visit Brazil... haha
You should be, especially if you live in an older home. That said modern electronics are much more efficient. The problem being we're using a lot more devices than was used in say 1990. Sometimes we tend to sacrifice safety for convenience. If we can avoid that we can use modern low consumption devices to maintain that safety. We just have to limit the number of convenient devices or pay the price to upgrade our homes.
@Chandy K. true
@Andrew Fernie 😂
I've noticed that every electric vehicle manual in the world says not to use extension cords with them. And I suspect the reason is simply because these cheap extension cords exist and they don't want to attempt to explain to the owner that they need a specific type of extension cord to handle the current. So instead, they just say not to use them at all. Interestingly enough, I know several people that use extension cords with their EVs, I've even been known to do it occasionally. But we all understand how to pick an extension cord with the right size of wire.
@ShadowOps Airman1 That probably excluded more than a third of polulation.
Hey bro, I am going to be getting a pc and some other power needing stuff, the place where this stuff will be is not very close to a plug, so I will need an extension cord or whatever the multiple plug one is called, do you know what would be good for something like that, I mean I imagine something heavy duty like should be what I pick, now the worst part is no video on Clip-Share can help me, because I use Italian plugs (it's what my country uses) they are called "L type", the one with the 3 pins) do you have any recommendations? Anyone please.
@Terrill S Van Dyke uhh cables aren't rated at volts they are rated at amps since voltage remains constant resistance can be varied and total power factor can be adjusted by these factors heat will always dump at the load as long as the regulators don't overheat then nothing bad will happen
You drive an ev, you don't know know to pick shit out lmao
@J F what is - romex ? .. .what the hell are you talking about ? .. .why should i care what it is - if it doesn't stop or improve my money making opportunities at my job "? .. who cares what romex is - does it affect the happiness between you & your kids ?
You never met my friend's neighbor. He took the fuses out of Christmas lights and replaced them with a nails or a bit of wire. The reason he did this was "the stupid fuses keep blowing when I plug all the strands in on this run". Yes this man systematically defeated every single fuse in his Christmas lights because he was plugging too many in to each other and was irritated that they kept blowing fuses.
so he mighta had 20 plugs going in at once, eh? Like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
@davidpar2 that's also the reason why the british plug is overrated
Lol lots of people do that. Or just replace the fused plugs with non-fused ones
that's why they should have breakers instead of fuses
A helpful way to understand why gauge numbers seem to be backwards (as in a smaller # means bigger wire) is to remember that they are indicative of how many of something can be made from a given amount of material. In this case, copper for wire. For example, let’s suppose I can make 14 wires from one pound of wire. If I decide instead to use up that pound of copper and only make 12 wires of the same length, then they would necessarily be a little thicker because I had more copper for each one.
As an HVAC journeyman 20 years deep. This is probably the best video I have seen on basic household amp ratings and why they matter. Well done
Yeah, I one time left a space heater on for maybe 2 hours plugged into one of those brown extension cords. I came back into the room, and thought something smelled like fish or a dead animal. I was investigating to see if there was maybe a dead mouse or something in the actual space heater, that could be causing the foul smell. I found no dead critters, but I noticed the cord was very hot to the touch. With some fortunate web browsing, I discovered that melting cables can smell like decaying flesh, and stopped using that extension cord entirely. Now I know the cause of this tomfoolery, and I'm going out to buy a better power strip for extra safety
@꧁GlorifiedGremlin꧂ Exactly, its a warning label for stupid people to protect the company from liability. There is nothing inherently wrong with using an extension cord, wire in your house or wire in a cord makes no difference providing they are the right gauge for the load. I have 2 space heaters in my greenhouse on the same 10ga extension cord on a dedicated 20A circuit. I double checked the amperage draw of each heater (both are set around medium) and combined they draw 18 amps. Never tripped a breaker, never had a heating issue with the cable, everything has been operating flawlessly all winter.
@Matt C That's not my point, my point is the vast majority of people aren't doing the math to figure it out so they just say no extension cords at all. Because like I said, it's written in red all over acs and heaters lmao
@꧁GlorifiedGremlin꧂ 20amp outlet has a max available watts of 2400 at 120v
20amp outlet uses 12/2 Romex, an extention chord using 12ga can handle the current from a heater. 15amp service can handle 1800w which means even 14/2 could theoretically can handle a 1500w heater. Keeping distance in mind, 14/2 may not be the best choice so 12 GAUGE extention chord would be the best.
@꧁GlorifiedGremlin꧂ you realize they make 12ga extention chords right? Running a heater on an extention chord isn't the problem it's the GAUGE your USING and the CURRENT passing through the wire.... If you're using 16ga cheap extension chord THAT IS THE PROBLEM.
Where’s your channel been all my life? Well-produced, educational, hilarious, engaging? Is it just you running this?! Your content is professional! This video alone is an instant subscription.
@Savage22 Bolt na. That's just a great tan. 😁
@Andrew I agree 100%
Yes, his explanations are so easy to comprehend. I have read a lot about electricity, but I always find myself forgetting because it's boring to read so I look at the words and tune out. This video made me feel like I am learning.
@Savage22 Bolt 🤣. Maybe so
Talent: The ability to get people to happily spend 25 minutes learning about extension cords
It's got to be some kind of hypnosis
@Matthew Hafner Well you gotta find ways to be efficient right? Plus one probably needs to be in the proper mood for a 25 minute digression lol
Honestly, I couldn't spend 25 minutes on it. I watch most informational videos at 2x speed.
It's also a talent to see easily distracted millennials as people, when they're really more like a household pet, unconcerned with basic things like the tools they use to survive, or even just be comfortable.
The one that made me say similar was when he got me to watch 40 minutes about dishwashers.
Today I learnt that the CE standard has saved my ass all my life. I currently have half the kitchen whirring away on one extension cord (not for length but for extra plugs) while I make a big meal for a party. Zero issue, no part of anything is hot. According to the thick-as-heck cord it's equivalent to US 10 gauge and can handle about 30% more than the circuit breakers. I think in a country that has wet-room three-phase devices (sauna stoves) in most homes we have probably learnt the hard way that if someone can draw too much current from anywhere, they eventually will.
Well, to be more exact, the manufacturer of the cord who chose to adhere to the CE standard probably saved your ass. The CE mark is a mark any manufacturer can put on its products if they themselves think the product conforms to it, without any external testing. This leads to a lot of products with sub-par quality on the shelves in the EU. If someone wants more quality assurance, look for the marks of independent labs like VDE or KEMA if buying electric stuff from the EU.
Prior to 1965, there were in fact fuse plugs that could be had in the USA. They were typically Bakelite housings with a pair of 3AG-type fuses inside. (I have a few of them buried somewhere in the cellar) One screw held the whole affair together. They were a little bit bulky, but they were relatively common, especially with electronic experimenters. They are now totally against code. This was the days before phased plugs. (back when to eliminate hum in your audio, one of the first things you did was "turn the plug the other way around") The problem with those old fuse plugs is that they used *two* fuses; one in the hot leg and one in the neutral. You didn't know which side would pop first, so you had a 50% chance of the neutral side opening... and that is a serious shock hazard, especially with old metal-cased appliances/equipment. As a result, we no longer have fuse plugs like that in the USA, and most appliances have plastic non-conductive cases.... especially power tools. (the old term used to be "double-insulated")
Ok... here in the USA we have 240V at the box and it is possible to wire up all 240V wall sockets in the house with dedicated breakers feeding each socket, use step-down transformers for all your 120V appliances, and use British wall sockets and plugs with 240V appliances in the process. Problem... using British wall sockets is a violation of electric code & if the local building inspector gets wind of it, you'll lose your certificate of occupancy. (nobody can live in the house until the issues are corrected) Not worth it just to use British-made fuse plugs.
Power strips... Used to be that prior to the 1980s, power strips were fairly expensive and mechanically-robust devices that typically had metal housings and NEMA style plugs; be it NEMA 5-15 or the types intended for installation on equipment as convenience outlets. (like what you used to find on the back of old stereo equipment preamps and receivers.) They were wired up with #12 wire and a proper UL-type strain relief and a heavy power cord. Then came the cheap imports. Pop one of those open and you have some thin metal made of who-knows-what and small contacts, all held in place by a plastic housing. Let those get a little bit warm and they melt... and not all of them have circuit breakers or fuses. When using *any* of those convenience devices like power-strips/surge-supressors and extension cords, you have to use your common sense and know what outlets are daisy-chained, what outlets have a dedicated line, how much each can handle and how much you intend to load them with. As mentioned in the video it is really easy to exceed a circuit leg's current capacity and *not* trip the breaker. (yeah, I know... problem is that common sense isn't all that common anymore.)
One thing worth mentioning... there's a lot of folks who think that because a circuit-breaker resembles a switch, they can use it as a switch. No. Breakers aren't meant for that kind of day-to-day use; that's what switches are meant for.
There are special switch breakers for 15 and 20 amp single pole circuits. They have an SWD designation.
Wernt a lot of grounded outlets back then, and even prior we had knob and tubing. 😉
honestly i'd vibe with having Christmas lights as extension cords
Used to do this in college all the time hahah - but they actually would shock me so i had to stop doing it
I remember, as a 10 year old kid, one time when I attempted to run a vacuum cleaner using a strand of Christmas lights as an extension cord... 😆 didn't cause any structure fires (thank God) but I succeeded in making some smoke, melting some lights, and most importantly, learning a valuable lesson about electricity.
As a firefighter, I love your use of FLIR for the visual demonstrations (especially at 11:46). I think the only saving grace these days is the push for energy efficiency, which *can* put less load on things like extension cords. Strands of incandescent C9 Christmas lights could easily overload a cheap extension cord, whereas LED C9 lights draw just a tiny fraction of the amps that incandescent do.
Of course, greater awareness of UL Listing and other fire safety tips help as well.
For my final in my high school speech class I demonstrated making pancakes right in the classroom. To do this I brought in a (rather modest) countertop griddle and, to reach the wall outlet... a flimsy brown extension cord. I didn't think twice about it.
...until partway through the demonstration-speech there was a flash of light as the cord literally melted away from the plug in the wall. We had to get a maintenance guy to come safely remove the now-bare-wire plug from the wall outlet. (He also brought a (better) extension cord, I finished my speech, and got a 99%. And the class got sample pancakes. :)
@zombieregime when you build the fuse into the wire 🤔
And not dead.
I can totally relate to this experience. I was a busboy at a high-end restaurant, my first real job in high school. But I kept obsessing over a plug behind our Waitress/Busboy station. The two cords that were plugged in to the outlet were never completely plugged in. So one day I took it upon myself to go behind the metal shelf and fix the problem. As soon as I pushed the first cord into the outlet I got a very unpleasant shock and flash that burned my thumb and forefinger. Even more surprising was when a waitress came around the giant fireplace that separated us from the restaurant and started her dramatic rant about how that was a terrible trick. BC there was an outlet/receptacle on the other side of the Fireplace that was right next to her customer's table. She described it as a orange flash/flame coming from the outlet/receptacle. So when she came around the fireplace I was still crouching next to the plug. So she assumed I intentionally carried out the act. Even to this day, I will always disconnect the CB before messing with receptacles and/or appliances.
So the takeaway is… low gauge extension cords if they are used and plug them into quality surge bars.
Almost burnt down the school : 1% penalty
This video is super informative and I've learned my home is probably a death trap waiting. But this video gave me enough info to hopefully start mitigating the risks.
100 years and I have a whole bunch of extension cords that are cheap that I bought and plug-in air conditioner into them all summer-long melted them and I didn't understand why until now you probably just saved my life and my family's life thank you for making this episode and explaining it in the way that everybody can make sense of it thank you
While watching this video, a section of my brain was taking inventory of all the extension cords in my house, and assessing the electrical load on them. Also, that same section of brain was wondering if every power strip I had in use actually had a circuit breaker function. I think I am going to throw out all the cheap, crappy extension cords I have, and start paying attention to the guage of the wire on the new ones I buy. I love your videos. Time well spent.
I watched this video when it first came out, and it just popped up again in my recommend. In the time since, my grandparents home had a major electrical fire (extension chord played a role but wasn’t the immediate cause) and let’s just say the warnings here hit different this time around lol.
Do a video on the difference between powerstrips and actual surge protectors. For an average consumer it is very hard to tell the difference and also which surge protector actually have resettable breakers. Alot of them you are supposed to throw away and replace after their protection circuits have been tripped.
Its been hammered into me my whole life that those cheap three plug extension cords are basically death. I don't even own one as an adult now even though I can think of several cases where it would be convenient and safe to use them.
Don’t do it. You know what’ll happen.
I always learn something new from your deep dives into the everyday tech we all use. Every obscure or mundane curiosity thoroughly explained! 👍👍💚😏
This is the first video I've ever watched about electrical circuitry... and now i want to map out how many amps are in each of my house's outlets, what gauge all of my extension chords are, etc. lmao
@littlestbroccoli yeah it was sketchy AF lol. Straight up just packed with newspaper & plaster.
@Jeremy Jutila holy shit
Meant to say they are the best for aircompressirs and stuff. If you have a fixed AC in the wall or likely the thickest gauge/highest allowed 110V amperage in your home.
It's probably labeled in your breaker box. If not just test thrm one by one. Look for either rooms (bedroom, kitchen, ect) and type (sometimes lights have thier own, the fridge and AC are usually on a 20+ and not the best for aircompressors abd stuff as you don'trun that stuff all the time) you'll likely have two with one switch for a 220 for your stove, and that us likely the only outlet they go too unless you have a cool shop
I'm a bit of an electrical nerd, so when I bought a house, one of the first things I did was survey the house's electrical system.
That turned out in me completely rewiring the entire house. Lol. Was remodeling anyways, but didn't plan on doing all that 😂 found out the house still had a good bit of old aluminum Romex buried in the walls, had tons of 14ga on 20a circuits, no dedicated circuits whatsoever for high-draw appliances, wires with insulation that had turned to dust, etc. maybe the worst one was a junction box that was buried in a plaster & lathe wall with no cover, stuffed with newspaper from the 1920's and then plastered over. Lol.
My house was rewired many years before my parents bought it by a shop teacher. He used 12 gauge wire and most of the circuits are 20 amps. I’ve had to replace most of the outlets over the years and used 20 amp outlets for them all. I did make one sketchy move in uping our kitchen circuit to a 25 amp circuit because the fuse (yes this house still has fuses) kept blowing. I made sure that the 12 gauge wire could handle it before I did it though. All that being said, it’s actually time this house gets rewired again.
The Army tought me about this, having barracks of soldiers going up is a no-go so we are all briefed on dangers of underrated wiring and also knock off generic outlets, transformers. I still apply the practice to my home today only buying heavier extension cords and outlets. The video was a good refresher as I create my smart home its also important.
"I plugged these two resistive heaters into this thin copper filament, and now I have three resistive heaters!"
Make a fire, keep a man warm for a day. Set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
And with those three space heaters ALL of my space is quite heated.
@John Boley Jr. but it will kill.
And just think, once your house catches on fire you have a fourth heater!
@Jonathan Pinkerton oh shit, i literally shouldve read the next comment. Now thats funny.
Great job, man! Love your videos! You are my go-to guy when it comes to this kind of stuff.
BTW, it looks like Amazon does sell extension cords with fuses at the male end of the plug. So it’s good to see that they do exist. Hopefully the big box stores and manufacturers follow suit.
I was just about to go hunting to see if it exists, thanks!
Just ordered a few of these myself. I was hoping they made them with 10a fuses but it looks like the only ones available use 5a fuses
I’m a (relatively) smart guy. In my 20s, I worked in construction for a few years, remodeling and building homes and things. I’ve done some rewiring and am ‘somewhat’ aware of ‘amp’ safety, but after watching your video I looked around and realized how lazy I’ve gotten. So many things ‘plug in’ these days, and if using a fat extension cord, I figured I’d probably be safe. But, the there’s the power strip plugged into the power strip…hmmm. I should probably change that. Thanks for the info, and I’m looking forward to other videos you’ve put out this past year..
I just recently discovered Christmas Tree extension cords at a ACE Hardware store which are pretty much the same as normal "light duty" indoor extension cords, but they have 9 outlets in 3 groups of 3 along the cord, a switch on the cord, and a 5 amp fuse in the plug.
They're supposed to be run up the middle of a Christmas tree for Christmas lights, but it's honestly a really handy extension cord.
I can see a lot of normal lighting uses for one of these cords... like plugging in lamps on each side of a piece of furniture or powering a string of small spot lights along a wall of bookshelves or in a display cabinet.
With LEDs the 5 amp limit on the fuse is easy to work with and the 9 plug design can keep things simple at the wall.
The biggest drawbacks of the cord are its limited color choices (green or white), it's long plug due to the fuse holder, its price (3 to 4 times a normal 15 ft cord), and it's limited availability outside of Christmas.
That all said, I'm probably going to buy a couple more to use around my house once Christmas is over.
Do you have Informa there, I mean the store that sells furniture? Like here in Indonesia, we have both ACE and Informa, owned by Kawan Lama Group
Great stuff! I had no idea that fused cords were not really a thing in the US. I’m shocked! (Sorry, hard to resist. Darn, I did it again.) One might gauge (see what I did) that a lower voltage circuit warranted fuses more. After all, fuses are primarily there to protect wires, not people (or appliances), as you rightly point out.
Basic knowledge of electrical devices and how much current they draw should be something everyone knows, as well as different battery types and their specifications. It's a shame people don't understand these things. Thanks for the vid!
Space Heater: "Do not use with extension cord!"
Also Space Heater: "Here's an incredibly useless 3 foot cord. Enjoy!"
1000%! Seems like I see design flaws too often, and immediately say, "Okay, hope somebody got fired over this, but more likely they got a raise." Also, as to the content of this video, it's no shock (no pun intended) that I've discovered yet another way America isn't as smart as everyone makes it out to be. So stupid that we literally do things out of convenience, and far less for actual safety and stability.
Yup 3’ cord and stay 4’away from flammable stuff.
@Bright Mong who... Who's putting their instant pots on the floor?
@William Brandon Davis While yes, longer cords technically does increase resistance, it usually isn't enough to cause a fire, through even multiple (3 or so) extension cords. It would only be a problem if the device on the end is already right at the tipping point of one of those cords or you go across a whole zip code with extension cords. But a single 6' extension cord is going to increase the resistance so little that a multimeter might not even read it. And even through 3 or so will the last decimal place even budge.
Good Sir, what a terrific video and presense! I just subscribed to your channel and will be watching more of your stuff. Extremely informative and helpful. I am a technician myself but never looked into the complexities of extension cord safety. You my good man, are a delight and a scholar. On to more of your work :)
So I am from the UK and just got back from a holiday in Spain. I bought a travel kettle while there (yes, tea) and upon getting home I decided to transplant a UK plug onto it because the difference between 220v (Sp) and 240v (UK) is negligible enough that I can do it without fear of massive overload. Even though, it has a 3a fuse on it (I was going to try going up in amperage until I found the lowest threshold before blowing the circuit). Turns out the kettle is comfortable on a 3a fuse so I know it's as safe as it could possibly be. Yay UK.
In school (in UK) I had to learn to wire a plug and put a fuse in it. I remember the teacher telling us how important the fuse was and how it'd save our lives. He'd then tell us in USA and other countries they don't have to learn this because they don't care about it. He'd show us their plugs and tell us we are lucky. He really made me scared and that I had to learn to wire a plug or I'd burn my house down.
I don't know if they even teach this anymore in the UK. I'm pretty old.
The idea behind allowing NEMA 5-15 receptacles on 20 amp circuits/etc is because of the idea of branch circuits - since you very rarely find dedicated circuits (except refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, etc which require dedicated circuits per code), so you'll nearly always have multiple receptacles on a single circuit. So if you have 2 15-amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuits, each receptacle can theoretically only pull 10 amps. Etc.
I lived in a house that had bare wire running between glass insulators in the attic... and it turned out the walls were insulated with crumpled up news papers. How did that not ever burn down?
@davidpar2 Thanks. That would make more sense. I never examined them closely enough to see any insulation
@Adon Von Ilesere I’m thinking your home had knob and tube wiring, which is porcelain insulators and fabric or friction insulated single wires. Can’t imagine bare wires ever being used for interior wiring
@Adon Von Ileserety. I'm in 240v land, which probably isn't an advantage in my case. Kettle boils really fast though.
@meetoo594 Someone could do a complete series on all the dangers lurking around American homes. Good luck getting it up to code
The main electrical supply cable entering my house is lined with lead and asbestos. I managed to blow the supply fuse to the house and when the SWEB engineer turned up he looked visibly worried, called a load of other engineers and gingerly tried getting the old fuse out with a chain mail looking set of gloves without causing an explosion as the cabling was so old and brittle. Then another van turned up with a 1960s era fuse unit to replace it. They promised to log an emergency and replace the feed into the house but then the covid happened and nothing got done. The fuse box/distribution unit is bakalite and falling apart as well. Wish they would hurry up and replace the bloody thing lol. Some of the house wiring is switched on neutral for some reason which apparently is also bad.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams
@frglee I stuck my hand in a socket, now I'm in space, please help
@codemiesterbeats That counter weight thing is actually a device used in places without access to a electrical grid! There was a Smarter Every Day video on it but I don't know what it was called.
You got that right! Even though we can never out-witt stupidity and/or ignorance. And it's still a peeve of mine that it seems to that manufacturing standards/regulations are one extreme or the other. But like I said in my first response, we will only make forward progress through public discussions like this. Thanks to all of those who reply it's a treasure trove.
I always thought ring main was a good idea, it gives us a 230 volt 30 amp circuit on just 2.5mm cable, what don't you like about it? Also we can have two phase which is 415 volt here in the UK., although that's mainly for industry. I enjoy your videos, keep up the good work! :)
i gotta say, every single video ive seen on this channel was extremely interesting. i also like the humor
Thank you for turning me on to what a power meter is - I had no idea these things were available so readily and cheaply.
Here in Australia even a $2.50 AUD power board has to have a 2400 w 10 amp circuit breaker built into it. As our main power is 16 amp per a fuse or circuit breaker, our power system is limited to 10 for most plug in items. Yes we do have more heavy duty items like welders that run on 15 amp 3600 w but they are a different plug again.
I enjoy your humour...ever since I've been plugging in space heaters into outlets ,and only once an extension cord it got hot ,and it says on the heater itself do not plug into any extension cords. Every one that I have plugged into an extension cord got hot . And now because of your video I finally understand why that is. And I've only noticed this last Christmas that they started to put fuses in the strings of lights. Ps I agree with the not being fatal, I as a kid I stuck a coat hanger ,both sides at the same time into an outlet. It blew me back and I got knocked out. It burnt my hands to a crisp and I had to use Vaseline and wear knit gloves until they healed, I had calluses for years after. I couldn't tell you what i was thinking at the time...I probably was trying to time travel. 😁🤗
European here: thanks to the higher voltage, every single extension cord in my household is rated 3250W.
UK 250V 13A
@combcomclrlsr in Europe we have 400V for those uses, so he legitimately doesn't know what he's talking about.
@Bat Man lives This is incorrect. Doubling the voltage across a resistor doubles the amperage consumed by that resistor in all cases where there is sufficiently available power to feed said load.
Allow an example...a standard 60w incandescent lamp pulls 0.5A when connected to 120v because it has a resistance of 240 Ohms, right? Now consider that if you plugged that exact same lamp with its 240 Ohms of resistance into a 240v circuit it would then pull 1.0A....and if you connected it to a 24kv circuit it would pull 1,000A...or at least try to do so before it either exploded or the current interrupt devices tripped open.
@Lcmortensen question: wasn't the first generator developed in the uk? So how can electricity come from america to Europe? I think I am missing something but I dont know what.
If you want to say that's slightly incorrect, that's fine but it's semantics. Because of the neutral wire running from the transformer the split into two 120vac legs could occur at any point along the way but it is not actually _split_ until it hits the breaker box where it is then _split_ into the house. We could say the split starts at the transformer but it never actually splits until it reaches the house. Again, this is all just semantics.
I'm pretty careful about overloads until I used one of those orange plug splitters on a 20 amp circuit. It actually caught on fire when I overloaded it. The breaker never tripped. I was lucky that I was in the same room and smelled the smoke. Lesson learned. So I agree with you.
I work as a lighting tech in film and my best days are the ones when we shoot at a real world location and all the outlets are labeled with what circuit they're on.
Well explained. I am a NYS degreed secondary art teacher. I did a lot of remodeling work in the summer months. I followed code and never had an issue. I called on electrical inspectors and if they said CODE, I was happy. I will recommend your video to family, friends and clients.
I use 12 gauge extension cords wherever possible, or 14 gauge at the very least. And even though I still have way too many extension cords plugged into surge-protected power strips, those power strips are at least rated to cover higher power draws. So, while my setup may be "safer" than some of the worst setups, I still have room for improvement. Thanks for sharing!
I remember as a teenager in the 80s that I was into computers and other electronic devices. I kept on adding extension chords when I got another device. My late father freakout saying that I shouldn't be using so many chords. So one day he put in a couple outlets in my bedroom so I would not use so many extension chords. I own the house now, but whoever buys the house is going to scratch their heads wondering why so many outlets in such a small bedroom. 🤣 My father was a strange when it came to safety as he was cautious in some areas and not so much in other areas.
He saved you from having to pay for another house...
"Kitchens are usually designed more smartly to avoid this." Let me introduce you to my house, where when I moved in if you used the microwave and toaster at the same time, a breaker would trip that covered the kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a hallway, and one bathroom. (yes, I have fixed the wiring after discovering this)
... did you live in my old apartment? >D code enforcement didn't do much here, so. quite a wait to use more than one appliance as a time...
Lived in a rental like this & it was the whole house. Reminded me of watching re-runs of Green Acres. Learned to be an ace at what could & couldn't be used at the same time throughout the home.
Who even would use alu for electrical wiring.
@Lizlodude cool! Should plug the fridge to the magical socket and see if it generates infinite butter pecan ice cream or not...
@ClockworkAvatar : You have aluminum wire? Don't change _anything,_ until you do, at which point change _everything._ The wire was fine if you properly maintained it, but that required retightening all of the connections after a few months to break through the additional oxide layer. Everything worked fine if it was done, but it often _wasn't_ done, which caused fires. It _should_ be fine if left undisturbed, but the moment you update any wiring you should consider all of the aluminum condemned and just replace it. A nuisance to be sure, but if you're willing to do the wire-pulling yourself, then you should be able to get a decent price (via reduced on-site time).
I was an eye witness to a fire investigation once. The fire marshal (at first) wanted to blame a fire caused by a cigarette on AA batteries in a remote. Yep, tricky business that fire investigation stuff.
It genuinely is pretty tricky. Especially nowadays, with heavy use of synthetic materials in homes. As a firefighter, I took a single fire investigator certification course (most investigators have 8-10+ courses) and that was enough for me. Lol. I knew right away fire investigator wasn't my route. One of our training burn scenarios had the students 100% convinced the fire was the result of accelerants poured all over the bedroom. Turns out, they just lit a lays potato chip bag on fire and set it on the mattress. Turns out potato chip oil is insanely flammable.
Thank you for pointing these things out. I have one cheap Dollar store one that I use consistently so that I can charge my phone or headphones, otherwise I have to constantly reach behind my desk which is annoying, but those things draw very little power. So it makes it much more convenient.
The problem is when people try to use them to plug in things like space heaters that draw a lot more power
Fun fact: my partner and I didn't even finish watching this video before pausing, checking our breaker, confirming which outlets were 15A vs 20A, marking the 20A outlets, checking all our extension cords, and then buying all new 15A rated, over current protected, surge protectors as ours were either not rated high enough or were not surge protecting. 😁
Another tip: I like to label each outlet to it's breaker. That way if I need to cut power I'm not guessing which breaker to flip.
Some extension cords here in the UK have both a fuse in the outlet block and (of course) one in the plug also. That way, you protect the house wiring and the extension cable too.
I've just sat through a 25 minute video about extension cords and I'm not only enthralled, but I want more, because goddamn this was super interesting.
Seriously, I love the line "the only conclusion I feel comfortable making here, is that I don't have enough information to come to a meaningful conclusion." We live in a world, and in particularly on an internet, that is so often devoid of nuance. Combined with a toxic mentality that generally prohibits admitting that you don't know something, and basic levels of communication and debate break down. You're one of the last few bastions of rational discourse and I applaud that. Thank you, Alec.
QUOTE: “nothing ever got done back when people had calm arguments”
Tell that to MLK or Ghandi who used nonresistance to make change. Or the Northern states that rationally debated & decided to end slavery by 1800. Also negotiated with the UK to embargo & stop the slave trade with Africa
💯 seriously, people's capacity for proper discourse is getting worse nowadays. I blame the media.
@Karl with a K A) not all people go to public schools, B) I doubt you're correct that all public schools cover it, C) "tweens" are people too. If the video isn't for you, don't watch it. They teach manners in most public schools too, and you obviously missed that class.
I have no idea why videos are being made by adults catering to the needs of 12 year olds. If you are 13 years old 100% of this has been covered in public schools...so why make a video about it for tweens???
Rando we idealize the nostalgic and distant history quite often. It's easy to proclaim the amazing creation of democracy and ignore the whole -if you're a rich white man- parts. We often sugarcoat the past. Even the term "civilized" comes with some rather problematic baggage. In reality, I believe, the world is moving towards a more free place, and it has made significant (if still arguably inadequate) gains for many historically marginalized groups; yet that doesn't mean the arrow of time points directly towards 'progress'. We developed perhaps the world's greatest information-sharing creation in history with the internet, then we found a way to limit discourse to 140 characters (or, in some country, eliminate discourse entirely).
I choose to believe that the answer to bad speech is more speech, so while Joe Rogan and Jake Paul are absolutely toxic idiots, people like Alec help balance those scales. Seeing him succeed at this work is inspiring, and I will eagerly await more.
The thing I've most often had to use extension cords for is to plug in "wall warts" (power adapters) onto a power strip, so that I can plug in more than one without them covering up ALL the remaining outlets. Power bricks seem to be some of the worst engineered things in yoyur house/office. Properly done, they should instead have an IEC C7/C8 port on them, and then you would use a proper-length C7/C8 cord, which takes up the same amount of space on your power strip as your typical lamp cord plug. But that might cut into some CEO's Donut-and-Sushi budget. I've seen various "outlet saver" cords for sale, but they're far more expensive than they should be.
I am actually amazed that a single outlet is rated to provide 15A of electrical current, like damn.
Here in India, mostly all the outlets are rated for 6A and some for like Washing machine, oven, water heaters, etc are on 16A outlet.
But still, that's like, WOW
(the fact that my 1BHK apartment is only limited to 32A service is also the fact)
When working construction in NY at/around the schools, we had breakers trip every. 5 minutes. I literally timed/videod it. After a while.. we decided to have a dedicated switch flipper stand at the box and turn it back on every time it tripped. It was honestly great
But… I didn’t know anything back then as a year 1 laborer. I knew it shouldn’t be like that though… our wires would burn out too after only a few weeks of use. Even the .5in diameter wires (20gau i think?).
Our brand new tools would overheat as well after long hours of use which is more understandable but I always felt there was more too it, and they should be lasting longer..it could’ve been over-use… or… negligent power management. And after watching this video I’m leaning more towards the latter
@Darth Panda Yes
Well what did y’all do about it? Finished the job and left the shitty wire?
If I'm buying a power strip, I always buy one with one of those reset switches, as that implies some sort of surge protection. When I have a computer, 2 monitors, and a speaker system all on the same power strip, I want to make sure devices don't short and my desk doesn't combust.
Apparently some manufacturers(mainly on Amazon) make fused US extension cords, though the only ones I saw with a quick peruse were 7A or less.
After my Grandfather died we cleaned out his workshead. That’s when we found out he “wired” it with extension cords. Not too bad, just a workshead... Until the house he had with my Grandmother needed an updated breaker box. That’s when the electrician found my Grandfather also wired parts of the house with extension cords. Behind the walls.
Not to make this political, but that sounds like a libertarian's wet dream. Somehow I keep getting in debates with them over the importance of building codes, and even when I get them to acknowledge their position comes down to "it's my house, I can burn it down if I want to," they then seem to have problems understanding fires can and will spread without any regards for property rights.
I was tearing down part of a farm house in Tennessee, when I got to taking the wood off the ceiling I discovered that the lights over the island were wired with telephone wiring. Slightly burned and melted. They were very lucky they didn't have a fire.
@Vink It's true that I don't know what country OP is from, but I'd be surprised if that particular rule is different there.
@Jim Bob Please read the other replies before responding, what you said has already been covered AND how can you quote code when you don't even know what country the work is being done in. Each country has a different electrical safety code and they are all quite different.
@Vink Using flexible cord as permanent wiring inside a wall is against code, regardless of the gauge.
400.12 Uses Not Permitted.
Unless specifically permitted in
400.10, flexible cables, flexible cord sets, and power supply
cords shall not be used for the following:
As a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure
Where run through holes in walls, structural ceilings,
suspended ceilings, dropped ceilings, or floors
Where run through doorways, windows, or similar open-
Where attached to building surfaces
Exception to (4): Flexible cord and flexible cable shall be permitted to be
attached to building surfaces in accordance with 368.56(B)
Where concealed by walls, floors,
or ceilings or located
above suspended or dropped ceilings
Exception to (5): Flexible cord and flexible cable shall be permitted if
contained within an enclosure for use in Other Spaces Used for Envi-
rommental Air as permitted by 300.22(C) (3).
Where installed in raceways, except as otherwise permit-
ted in this Code
Where subject to physical damage
I rewired my "rewired" house because so many circuits were over loaded. I also use GFIC on any plugs that are on the same line. Works great. I did that on my outside plugs as well not just because it's code, but because it also protects against a short if you have a bad extension cord.
Most electrical fires start at the plug receptacle because when the receptacle gets loose it will start arcing this will get hot enough to start melting metal that will start burning plastic and wood, If you have a receptacle that does not hold the plug firmly replace it.
Excellent video, very well done, didn't catch any sense of wrongness and agree 100% that more could and should be done.
I've personally come across 2 melted extension cords, both of which could have easily caused fires.
One was at dad's house where he ran a big chest freezer from one of those small, light gauge 2 wire extension cords which were too thin to carry the load. Don't know what the heck he was thinking because he should have known better. Curiously the nails he tacked it up with helped avoid a short because the lower conductor melted through the insulation and sagged away from the top wire.
The other melted cord was at my house. The guys who installed the dishwasher used a cord that was one size too small and not heat rated. It took some years but eventually the cord melted and made a high resistance short. The resistance was high enough to keep the current low enough so as not to trip the breaker. The cord drew power and kept getting hotter even though the dishwasher was off. Smoke started rolling out of kitchen. Curiously I happened to be getting a new furnace that day and the furnace guys happened to have been using a torch in the basement directly below the dishwasher. I went downstairs to tell those guys to cool it with their torch, assuming it was their fault. They swore they were not the cause so I dragged them upstairs to witness all the smoke. They moved the dishwasher and discovered the smoldering cord.
That one would have been a fire for sure because not only did the dishwasher guys use the wrong cord but instead of cleaning up their sawdust they swept it into a pile and left it behind the dishwasher, with the hot melty cord running right down the middle of all that sawdust.
That dishwasher got a new cord
that was heat rated and properly sized and it ran for 20 years...
When it finally died I installed the replacement myself.
I like the window that turns bright orange to show which breaker has tripped. I guess it's necessary when it's a black switch on a black background. I don't know if it's the rules or not but here in the UK all the breakers I've seen have the switch lever in a different colour (ours are white breakers with blue levers; seems like a missed opportunity to have the lever also indicate the breaker rating like the old fuse holders)... which often still isn't that handy when you're hunting for the breaker box in a dark cupboard under the stairs with no light.
Great content, well presented. Thank you, +1 subscriber. Q&A: from a medical point of view, if 60Hz is a natural resonant frequency for humans (inducing cellular activity via prolonged EMF exposure), while 50Hz does not induce such cellular activity, then does that implicitly make the higher voltage shock less severe to overall well being? Sure the shock may be higher in magnitude with 240Vac at 50Hz versus 120Vac at 60Hz, but the human response at 50Hz may be less damaging compared to a shock response at 60Hz. Avoiding ambiguity of the word 'safe.' What are your thoughts, please?
My in-laws are deaf and, as such, we always have the CC on. I really appreciate that you manually create the CC. it is a noticeable difference when I watch your vids. I love the "Overloadedly Smooth Jazz" at the end.
Be glad it's not live-captioned as he records it.
[BE GLAD IT'S NOT LIVE-CAPTIONED AS HE RECORDS IT.]
Added bonus: the CC have bonus jokes and side commentary, which is fun to read during the episode.
Auto-generated captions have said some things to me that I'm glad my children didn't see... 👀 and YT has the audacity to punish foul mouthed content creators? Phsst.
@Yuppi A recent Poketoons video with auto generated titles had the instantly classic [Sounds of slaughter] caption when a dish fell in another room. Maybe bespoke captions aren't always the most entertaining choice.
If your in-laws ever want to experience music for the first time in their lives again, LCD-4 has been known from deaf war veterans to be able to listen to music crystal clear. to them its worth way more than the MSRP.
This is probably one of the most important, informative videos I've seen, thanks I'm going to reevaluate and inspect all my power strips , thank u so much
you sort of remind me of The History Guy here on the tubes. definitely not a bad thing. very good informative content and not a lot of crazy editing, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right! thank you for sharing.
UK plugs are great, I have my computer, monitor and phone charger plugged into one extension cable next to my desk and each plug (except maybe the charger since it's not easy to disassemble and probably doesn't include a fuse) has 2 or maybe 3 (again depending on what's in the devices and my walls) points where it can stop me from accidentally blowing my house up
The charger will most certainly have a resettable fuse. They stop passing current when there's and overload, with one common type being called a polymeric positive temperature coefficient device (PPTC) device aka "polyswitch" or "polyfuse". Basically, it's a small passive device that stops passing current when it gets too hot through passing too much current. When it cools down it will reset itself and start conducting again. You will find them in things like sockets with integrated USB power outlets.
A PPTC won't take this sort of abuse forever, but it's an important safety device and I suspect that no power adapter would get a CE marking without that sort of internal over-current protection (although a simple fuse would suffice).
I used to work at a hardware store. I remember in the back room, there was a nightmare of extension cords and power strips powering fans, battery chargers and other devices. I thought it was highly dangerous, but the boss refused to listen.
Worked electrical at a department store for a few months between semesters. Spent a lot of time getting familiar with wire guages and current loads. Ever since, have always been incredibly vigilant about what guage wiring I get in power strips and the like. 10 and 12 guage all the way, baby.
The fact that you cover, in depth, the technology that we all take for granted, and not the new-fangled fancy stuff that everybody can't afford, makes you my favourite tech channel. Thank you
@Felix C case in point: I have the exact same white extension cord at 5:42 with a few devices plugged into it 10 feet away right now. I always thought that was a bad idea, but never knew why. Now I do.
I have so little interest in The Latest In Smart Technology and would much rather hear about the mechanisms of how the things around us operate and the complexity of making appliances function as intended
This video is fun for me, because I used to run all sorts of crazy stuff on power strips many years ago. I had a space heater and microwave plugged into one, and I had to remember to always turn off the space heater before running the microwave because the breaker in the power strip would trip if I forgot. On the opposite side of the wall I had a different cheaper power strip powering just a space heater, which I usually ran on high. I never thought twice about that, because nothing bad had happened before so why would I think about it? Anyways for a lot of this particular winter I kept smelling like a rotten fish smell, couldn't figure out where it was coming from, thought maybe a dead rat in the wall or something. The following fall we moved apartments and when I unplugged the power strip from behind the couch the plug was kinda melted and the outlet was blackened.
Around that time I took an intro to electrical engineering class that was required for my degree and learned that sometimes burning electrical insulation sometimes smells like rotten fish, and that is what made me never overload extension cords again. It blows my mind now that I ever thought that I could run a microwave and space heater off a power strip safely. These days when I need to use an extension cord for something I make sure it's UL listed and rated for the device(s). I have special extension cords for space heaters now, which are rated for high wattage appliances exceeding the power draw of the space heater so I don't risk burning down my home again.
Now it makes sense that all the extension cords I can buy here in the EU are so thick. They are required to be capable of carrying large currents. Thanks!
Ahh, another thing to add to my "power key" idea, wherein the power key informs the outlet how many volts, watts, or amps are allowed through before shutting it off, all three are 0 by default, and each pin on the key allows more to pass through, effectively making it safe in the event of a flood, sticking a fork in it, or whatever else you can think to put it through, aside from a power key breaking off inside it, or an improperly made power key
Excellent video on proper extension cord usage. As someone who has electrical knowledge, I'm appalled at the lack of concern from the industries creating these products. 16 ga cords shouldn't exist, period 🤘
Wow! I stumbled upon your site today, and, man, I learned A LOT. I've used extension cords for my whole life, and have been warned about them for just as long, (but for vague, unclear reasons). Today I learned the the why. Excellent video. AND hilarious. "Melty", haha!
This video should be required viewing for all homeowners. I’m a Master Electrician, but I learned and was reminded of several very important t facts. Thank you!
For anyone wanting a competent electrician, I'd suggest you get a list of references covering the last year. Standard is getting 3 seperate quotes and preferably references from people you know.
You will run into a couple problems doing this. 1. You'll be looking at a month before the electrician has an opening unless you want to pay weekend or evening rates.
2. You won't be paying bottom dollar.
3. You'll be paying for the onsite pre-inspection/quote/drive time.
You should know.
1. The only free quotes are for work that never gets done.
2. You get what you pay for, this includes the experience required to get work done efficiently to spec.
3. No one knows what's in or the quality of the work and materials your walls, junction boxes etc. without opening them. To be brief, some shits gotta get eyes on it or made right and that takes time.
4. Remodel work: tear out every piece of plaster, paneling, sheetrock, cultured stone, stone, Mason board... if it's on your walls it's wrong.
5. Only you can set your budget, if 3 guys tell you, even politely, that you're nuts and your expectations and wallet are out of balance. You're nuts.
I could keep going. I learned a lot contracting and learned a fair bit more becoming a contractor.
References, 3 quotes, add 20% to your budget.
Really, find a good contractor or general contractor, hash out a good contract that uses 80%-90% of your budget and try to manage your project with the understanding that there are generally 3 things you want, but you can only have 2. Speed, quality and cost. You only get 2 and hope the third falls in place.
@Your Dad I’m quite sure I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know. Why do you assume ‘Master Electrician’ is my only qualification? Also, you are correct the title does sound important. It also allows me to make more money.
I love you my man you make learning fun and easy! It’s strange especially because I suffer from Asperger’s making learning on the regular basis more than difficult! So thank you!
Wow amazing video. I like to use surge protectors to do exactly what you said, plug in more than 2 devices. I always tried to go with quality as well because its normally electronics I'm plugging in. I also have some 3 way splitters in my kitchen because who doesn't have multiple devices they keep plugged in. It's good to know that on those the breaker has my back if I am actually overloading the outlet. Now to amazon to buy some more splitters!
One of the interesting thing to note is that in some regions where land development happened earlier than the '90s (say post WWII) the concept of placing an outlet every 6' is not really present. Also, these houses did not account for the amount of power draw in a modern kitchen as it was assumed that you'd probably use the range-top (on its own breaker) to do the bulk of the cooking in the morning and maybe have an electric coffee pot of some kind. The other assumption is that you use the space between the kitchen and the garage as a dining area with, at most, a lamp plugged into the outlet there. So you'll have the outlets in that dining area on the same breaker as the kitchen outlets. However, in modern life the dining area is likely closer to the living room with the T.V. in front of the unused fireplace. The area next to the kitchen gets used as a small-ish desk area and the kitchen now utilizes a a microwave and a toaster/toaster oven to get food ready in the morning since it's just faster to do that before work.
So what ends up happening is that you have some really high-draw appliances (as shown in the video) on the same circuit breaker as the devices that you have in the area now used for a work area. Which means that it's really easy to trip that breaker and start causing trouble with whatever sensitive electrical devices (desktop, laptop, cell charger, cordless landline phone-if you're still into that kind of thing) are plugged in at the desk. So besides not addressing the matter with extension cords and power strips being a problem that isn't being addressed directly we also have the issue of legacy systems which pretty much guarantee that those devices will be used and likely in an overloaded manner just to circumvent other issues-aside from convenience it's actually a necessity to use them in legacy cases.
Power tools that pull a lot of power and appliances will last much longer when they are not starving for power. This is especially important the longer the cord needs to be. They're more expensive for sure, but always use a 12 gauge cord when pulling a lot of amperage. Your tools will thank you
I don't like much about the US electrical system but the colour-coded gauge is a good idea. Pretty crazy that you don't then identify the outlets too, though.
Unless there are more plugs per outlet, I don’t think having more outlet locations will reduce how often people use power strips. Even the simplest TV or computer setup needs more than just two outlets, and if the choice is between running an extension to the next outlet another 6ft away or to put a strip on the closest one, you still run into the gauging issue either way.
@Mike B My current office setup uses 10 plugs (PC docking station, 3 monitors, printer, amplifier, modem, router, switch, USB charger, desk light) plus sockets that I use to plugin portable equipment if I need it. What one should do, call an electrician to add or remove socket every time another plug is requires? Of course no.
If you use extension cords correctly, meaning you don't draw from them more power than the one they are rated for, there is no real issue. All the setup that I described before is less than 500W, that at the 230V that is used in my country is just over 2A, a very small current, considering that normally extension cords are rated for 16A (3500W). Also the socket circuit should be protected by a breaker that is not larger than what a single socket in the circuit is rated for, i.e. if a normal socket is rated for 16A the whole circuit should be protected at maximum by a 16A breaker so that you can't draw from a socket more current than the one the socket and the wiring are designed for.
@Gui Smith I compromised by getting a UPS......not only do I have circuit protection outside of the wall, in the event that I'm overdrawing the circuit, my UPS will disconnect from the circuit and switch to battery mode until the condition ends. It's a much safer approach.
@Brian West The room I'm typing this reply from, only had 4 outlets..... It has had 1 outlet added, to give it 5. I'm still using 3 power strips, a 2 to 6 adapter and a UPS just so I can plug in everything I need..... Current code is 1 outlet every 6 feet.....which would still only add 2 more outlets to this room. Electrical code doesn't take into account the "connected home" idea.
And that is why I use a dedicated UPS with a 10 gauge cable on an isolated circuit
@Jiinxer perhaps most arent.
Ive seen some sketchy asian examples that were in fact connected. It had a cheap fiberboard back held on by 2 cheesy slotted screws. You know the kind where the slot isnt exactly lining up with the middle of the screw. Those cheap screws are what prompted me to open it. I could hardly believe what I saw.
Thanks for pointing out that full and chained power strips are actually pretty safe when the total load is reasonably low. People freak out at the amount of stuff I have plugged in at my desk, and they don't realize the whole thing is only 200W max when everything is at full power... and most of the time it's under 50W during actual use. Meanwhile, they feel safe using a space heater and an electric kettle at the same time on a single cheap extension cord, because it's just 2 devices.
A year later, I have found this very valuable information. I hope you know we appreciate you!
This was quite informative. I've heard extensions are bad but never knew why. I still use them. But at least now I know why and what safe way to use them.
so really theyre not THAT BAD if you read what they're rated for
Both my parents and friend are horrible with just leaving wires around, and I’m amazed they haven’t spilled something on them or tripped over 1 cord and ripped out everything
Another comment I would like to add is the variation in quality of standard three-prong outlets themselves. I have recently run into a situation whereby the home we live in had all the outlets replaced to bring the house up to code. This was done by a professional electrical service and the outlets simply have NO grip on plugs at all!!! These were NAME BRAND (and EXPENSIVE) outlets too!! Just running a vacuum cleaner resulted in them getting hot. Went to the hardware store and bought the cheapest, bargain basement outlets they had, and they have grip so tight that you have to work at getting the plug in or out. Since that time, when porchasing outlets, I have always tested them right there in the store to see how good a grip they have.
Love your discussion about "safer" at the end. Sometimes, people assume things in black and white when a topic is a spectrum. 2 things can be horrible, but 1 has to be "better" than the other. The fact that (a) is better than (b) does not imply that (a) is "good". People sometimes misinterpret that.
@EebstertheGreat This is exactly why phrases like "from bad to worse" exist.
@Kevin Cathcart I have never heard of anyone claiming the comparative implies the positive in all cases. I simply do not believe such a person exists. Rather, some people are claiming that _absent context to the contrary,_ the comparative implies the positive, which I think is a reasonable interpretation. "Feeling better" is just one example. If the weather has "gotten worse," it was probably already bad. If a item on the menu was changed to be "bigger than ever," we would assume it had always been at least somewhat big.
@EebstertheGreat I agree the superlative also does not imply exceeding some baseline corresponding to the postive. Calling something the fastest (of some particular set) implies that either that chosen one is fast, or that nothing in the set is fast. But one needs additional context to determine which of those two implications is correct.
I'm not sure what the Latin digression is about. English is not Latin. You show that it is possible to have a language where in an unrestricted context a comparative can imply the positive, while not always requiring that when context restricts things. Sure, but English is not Latin. The fact that a similar construction in Latin can imply at least baseline safety is not really relevant in English, except to the extent that other languages may have inherited that, and could therefore trip up people learning English as a second language, if they assume the same applies in English.
In English is it not safe to default to assuming a comparative exceeds the definition of the positive except when used in conjunction with the positive form as part of a ranking sequence. I am not accusing people who do default to such an interpretation as being unable to distinguish, but merely that holding such a default is going to cause misunderstandings, as that interpretation is incompatible with some relatively common uses. The statement the "snow is warmer than liquid nitrogen" is totally true, even though most people would not consider snow warm. If somebody were to complain that statement is wrong because snow is not warm, said person would be mistaken. The statement is not incorrect.
@GodmanchesterGoblin That's a good point about audience literacy. I notice in North America (and probably elsewhere), many appliances simplify their precautions to absolutes (Never do X), even if you could use a product within its designed tolerances given the proper setup, but it's easier and legally advisable to ignore the asterisks, especially when warranties are considered. Then on top of that, I can well imagine marketing further tweaking the information that goes to consumers.
@MRTOWELRACK In the UK (this side of the pond) I take safer merely to mean less dangerous. But I am an engineer who understands a lot about electricals and electronics, so I am not representative of the general population. As an engineer, I might say that "A is marginally safer than B" - that does not prevent a marketing department turning that into "A is safer than B". The bigger problem is that the non-technical consumer is ill-equipped to make these kinds of judgement calls and they then believe what the marketeers may tell them.
I love your sense of humor. “It’s frankly bonkers” is now part of my vernacular, and everyone in my life is about to hear about extension cords & wire gauges.
Major serious oversight.
Many many homes have 15 amp duplex outlets on 20 amp breakers using 12 gauge romex/wire (rated for 20 amps); also many homes have 14 gauge romex/wire on 20 amp breakers. (some outlet's quick connect holes only accept 14 gauge wire others have 12 gauge quick connect holes - where the stripped wire just gets pushed in instead of fastened by the brass (for hot) or aluminum (silver color) for neutral screws.
Also IF you think maybe to update/edit/amend this useful clip you might mention the advantages of installing conventional 3 hole outlets ground on top ("upside down"); especially important around little watched crawling toddlers. There is a lot of controversy on ground on top or bottom; but keep in mind a slightly unplugged cord (common) will position the HOT insert of a plug on top so if one were to drop (gravity) a metal object (like a toddler with a paper clip, screwdriver etc) into the open gap that metal object can touch the HOT probe causing a shock. THIS is not that uncommon of an emergency room situation. Whereas with ground on top the metal object will harmlessly be stopped by the ground probe. Also Ground UP/Top is less likely (stronger connection) to bend out and down to create an (Harmless) opened-gap (also a common occurrence) where again ground down/bottom will "bend-OUT" easier to create a hazardous opened gap on top. Cheers and thanks for your clip.
Not only in US, in South America, Extension cords are sooo weird too
And these wall breakers are just as cheaper too