Environmental Health and Safety

Extension Cord and Power Strip Usage

Extension cords and power strips have the potential to cause fires, electrical shock, loss of power to equipment and facility damage. The University restricts the use of extension cords to providing temporary power for portable equipment (e.g., maintenance, cleaning, audio-visual, or construction activities).

Use of surge suppressors:

  • While a surge suppressor is a power strip, not all power strips are equipped with surge suppression.
  • If sensitive laboratory equipment requires the use of a surge suppressor this must be noted in the lab's standard operating procedures.
  • Generally, scientific equipment must be plugged directly into primary wall outlets.

In accordance with the National Electric Code, extension cords cannot be used for the following:

  • As a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure
  • Run through holes in walls, ceilings or floors
  • Run through doorways, windows or similar openings
  • Attached to building surfaces
  • Concealed by walls, floors, or ceilings or located above suspended or dropped ceilings
  • Installed in raceways, except when permitted by Code
  • Where subject to physical damage

In addition, extension cords must:

  • Be inspected before use
  • Be removed from service if damaged
  • Be certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (UL, CSA, ITSNA)
  • Be suitable for the conditions of use and location
  • Be used only in continuous lengths without splice or tap
  • Not be connected in series to another cord or power strip (daisy-chain, piggy-back)
  • Not to be continually connected to an outlet for more than 1 work day
  • Not be used with equipment drawing more than 15 amps

Power Strips/Surge Suppressors:

  • Only one strip or suppressor is allowed per duplex electrical outlet
  • May not be used in series (daisy-chain, piggy-back)
  • Usage limited to low current devices such as radios, computers, printers, etc.
  • Not to be used with equipment containing a heating element