December 15, 2013
Campus Community
Tim Ridley, CSP, ARM-P
Director, Safety and Risk Management
Safety & Risk Management inspections continue to identify electrical power cord
We understand that offices frequently do not have enough outlets to
accommodate all of the electronic equipment desired. This memo is to remind everyone
that improper use of extension cords poses a potential danger of electrical fire, and to
provide a suggested interim solution that will reduce the risk of electrical fire. Attached
are two information sheets discussing power strips, surge protectors, and general
electrical safety. You may find them useful in resolving an extension cord deficiency on a
safety inspection.
Regulations require that appliances which demand currents greater than 600 watts or 5
amperes (such as microwave, coffee pots, space heaters, and refrigerators) be connected
directly into a wall socket. Utilization of a standard extension cord or power strip is
unsafe and a violation of Fire Safety Code for these appliances. In an effort to meet
occupant needs, and the requirements of the State Fire Code, power strips equipped with
internal fuses are permissible to connect appliances in the absence of permanent wiring.
Where use of the appliances is anticipated to be permanent, i.e. more than one school
year, a work order requesting additional outlets is recommended.
Surge protectors with cords of not more than six feet may be used when multiple lowamperage devices are to be connected; however, the TRIPP-LITE ISOBAR with an 8 foot
cord has been approved for campus use. The TRIPP-LITE can be found at the following
link:, Safety Power Strip Model #TLM609GF is appropriate for
most applications.
Where low amperage devices are used, such as computers and
desktop printers, a surge protector may be preferred. The IBAR4 and ISOBAR 8 have 6
ft and 8 ft cords, respectively.
If you have questions or require further information regarding this issue, please contact
me at extension 2066.
Attachment A
Information Sheet
Extension Cords and Power Strips
Surge protectors, also called multiple outlet strips and surge suppressors, are corded
devices used to provide additional electrical connections for appliances or electronics.
There are some basic differences between them:
The surge protector absorbs power surges or “energy spikes” thereby preventing
voltage from reaching the devices, “protecting” sensitive electrical devices such as
computers or expensive TVs.
These have fuses which “trip” when a surge is
detected. Surge protectors can be defeated, but adding a compatible, properly
rated surge protector can help extend the life of appliances and electronics.
Extension cords are typically used to move the location of power to a location
where an outlet does not exist. Extension cords are only designed for temporary
use. Power strips are for increasing the number outlets available, and can be used
like an extension cord; in addition, power strips and extension cords do not have
the safety features of a surge protector as they do not block surges or spikes in
When purchasing a surge protector, the package will indicate whether the device has
surge protection and will also include additional performance ratings. If you did not
purchase the power strip or surge protector and have questions about its protection
capacity, you can look for certain features on the device itself. It is important to verify
and compare performance ratings before using, or continuing to use a surge protector.
The following performance ratings and features may be found on a quality surge
UL 1449 Voltage Protection Rating (VPR) - Measures let-through (clamping)
voltage, which is the maximum voltage a surge protector will let through a
connected device. A lower VPR, typically 330 volts, usually indicates better
UL 1449 Suppressed Voltage Rating (SVR) - Earlier measure of let-through
voltage based on a test using 500-amp current. This rating may be found on some
surge protectors, as the VPR rating was effective September, 2009.
Joules Rating - Determines the total amount of energy a surge protector is capable
of absorbing over time.
Response Time - The faster the device reacts to a surge, the better.
Indicator Light/Sound - A device may have both features, will alert you when
surge protector needs to be replaced.
Ground Indicator Light - Light shows ground path is intact.
Power Shut-Down Protection - Shuts off power to all outlets once the surge
protector reaches its capacity to protect.
Resettable Circuit Breaker - Stops the flow of electricity when circuit is overloaded
to protect connected devices and surge protector.
3-Line Protection - Hot, neutral, ground protection in an electrical circuit.
GFCI Protection - Reduces the risk of electrical fire.
Energy Saving Designs - Load sensing plugs, master/power save plugs, remote
control/ timer surge protectors
Warranties - Check manufacturer’s warranty.
When attempting to determine the wattage of your electrical device, if the nameplate
provides you with the volts and amps, the following formula will permit you estimate the
wattage (maximum power drawn by appliance):
Watts= amps x volts
Example: Small fan current draw= 0.45 AMPS; 120V (Most appliances in US).
W= 0.45 x 120
=54 W
The following checklist can help you find a surge protector for your needs.
STEP 1-Choose type
(Check one)
Whole- House (for
main electrical
Surge Protectors
(office, home)
Battery Backups
(for instant backup
power in the event
of power failure)
Wall Mount Surge
Protectors (function
like standard
STEP 2- Choose connection
types (Check all that apply)
Power cords
STEP 3- Compare/ Verify/ Choose
Performance Ratings/ Features
(Check all that apply)
Voltage Protection Ratings
(VPR); Suppressed Voltage
Ratings (SVR)
Telephone cords
Joule Ratings
Ethernet cords
Response Times
Cable TV coaxial cables
Automatic Warning Devices
Satellite TV cables
USB cables
3-Line Protection
Resettable Circuit Breaker
Power Shut Down Protection
Energy Saving Designs
GFCI Protection
EHS Berkley Campus (2004) Extension Cords and Surge Protectors
Retrieved September 1, 2011, from
The Home Depot U.S.A. Inc (2010) Surge Protectors
Retrieved September 1, 2011, from
Tripp-Lite (2011) ISOBAR8ULTRA
Retrieved September 6, 2011, from
U.S Department of Energy (2011) Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Use
Retrieved September 1, 2011,
Attachment B
Information Sheet
Electrical Safety Tips
Before purchasing a surge protector, power strip, or extension cord, it is important to
know what equipment or devices will be connected to the unit because the units do have
Misused surge protectors, power strips, or extension cords can lead to
serious injuries and/ or property damage.
The following guidelines should be considered:
Know the electrical rating of the surge protector, power strip, or extension cord,
and do not exceed rating.
Power cords should remain uncovered, (carpet, furniture, etc.) and should not be
rested on, or wrapped around, sharp edges to avoid physical damage.
Power cords should not be “suspended” so that the cord can separate from the
Extension cords and outlets should be inspected routinely to identify damage and
institute repair actions. Cords should be inspected for insulation damage.
When connecting a power cord to within 4 ft of a source of water, ground fault
circuit (GFCI) is required, either at the wall socket itself or within the cord.
Extension cords should not be connected to surge protectors or other extensions
(daisy chain). Extensions and surge protectors must be plugged directly into wall
Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) listings recommend that no
single load should exceed 600 watts or 5 amperes, and total load should not exceed
1440 watts or 15 amperes. Computers and associated equipment typically draw
low total current of 3 to 5 amperes.
All electrical equipment, including extension cords, power strips, appliances, and
surge protectors, should have a NRTL stamp.
Appliances or devices that require currents greater than 600 watts or 5 amperes
should not be powered through surge protectors. The following wattage ratings
(marked by an asterisk) were provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and
should serve as a reference:
o Portable space heaters (750-1500 watts)*
o Copy machines (40-70 standby, 1400-1600 in use)*
o Coffee pots (900-1200)*
o Microwave ovens (750-1100)*
o Toaster/ Ovens (800-1400)*
o Refrigerators (frost free, 16 cubic ft., 725)*
o Small refrigerator (90)
If you are attempting to configure the wattage on your device, but the nameplate on the
device only provides you with the volts and amps, the following formula can help you
estimate the wattage (maximum power drawn by appliance):
Watts= amps x volts
Example: Small fan current draw= 0.45 AMPS; 120V (Most appliances in US).
W= 0.45 x 120
=54 W
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