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What is a Power Strip?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sometimes referred to as an extension strip, power board, or lead strip, a power strip is a device that makes it possible to connect multiple electrical devices to a single power socket. The strip itself is equipped with a series of sockets that provide the means of making the connection. A single cable extends from the strip and can be plugged into the power source, supplying the necessary power through the strip to any electrical device that is connected via one of the strip’s sockets.

There are several different power strip designs in common use. For residential use, the most common design calls for a thin rectangular design that includes a row of five sockets. Along with the sockets, the typical power strip today also includes a simple toggle switch that makes it possible to control the flow of electricity through the device and to any appliances or equipment that is connected to the strip. The power cable that is attached to the strip is usually thicker than the cords found on most appliances, but is still somewhat flexible. At the end of the cable is a plug that makes it possible to connect the strip with a wall socket. When activated, the strip acts as the simultaneous conduit for the flow of electricity to any appliance that is plugged into the device.

There are also power strips that can accommodate more appliances. Sometimes referred to as a double row power strip, these devices feature ten or more power sockets. The cables on these types of strips are somewhat thicker, but still flexible. A strip of this type can be very helpful in situations where multiple devices must be positioned in close proximity to a single wall outlet, and running extension cords is either impractical or considered a safety hazard.

Today, just about every design for the power strip includes a surge suppressor. The suppressor detects any changes in the flow of power and helps to modulate any sudden bursts or surges that could possibly cause damage to the appliances attached to the devise. Sometimes referred to as a smart strip, the device handles this function by shutting down when a surge is detected. Some of the more sophisticated designs actually block the surge without interrupting the flow of power to the attached appliances.

When selecting a power strip for use in the home or office, it is always a good idea to go with a product that has met the minimum safety standards set in place by the government. Many countries around the world require that any type of electrical equipment or appliances comply with specific standards that are designed to ensure the relative safety of the operator while the devise is being used. Strips that meet these standards usually carry some type of verification on the label attached to the devices noting the compliance.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
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Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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