We all use power strips of one kind or another to plug in our beloved PC, as it is not only the PC socket that we need, but we also need to plug in the monitor(s), and in many cases also other devices such as speakers, printers, the router or even to charge the mobile phone. Generally this is not going to overload the power strip, but what happens if you don’t notice and you plug in a vacuum cleaner or the air conditioner and it overloads?
How much power does a standard power strip hold?
The power supported by a conventional power strip that you can buy in any store can vary quite a lot, as it depends on its design, the number of plugs you have and other factors, but the most normal is that even the worst power strips can withstand up to 2,200 watts of peak power. Peak power means that they are not designed to withstand this power consumption continuously, but only at specific times, so this is a factor that you must take into account and be careful with it.
As a general rule, all power strips have a label at the bottom where they will specify, among other things, the power they support (you can check it by looking at any you have at home, all models except those of poorer quality must specify this value) but again you must keep in mind that we are talking about peak power and not continuous power. You should also bear in mind that this value will always be an approximate value, which means that it would be absurd to calculate the power of the connected devices as it is an approximate calculation.
Other power strips of higher quality (and more protection strips) usually have a much higher value of peak power supported, and the ranges go from 3,500 watts in power strips that already have a certain quality up to 4,800 watts or even more in very good quality devices and protection strips.
Reasons for overloading a power strip
A power strip can become overloaded for several reasons, and although most people think that it is simply a sum of the consumption of the connected devices in reality this is a little more complicated. But yes, if you plug your PC and its peripherals and a vacuum cleaner that consumes 2,000 watts into a power strip that supports up to 2,200 watts, you will probably overload it (for this reason we recommend that you never ever plug high consumption appliances into the same power strip as the PC).
Believe it or not, if a power strip has six sockets, for example, it is designed to support six devices, and this is true even for power strips. If you connect a power strip to a power strip or even if you connect one power strip to another in series, you can also cause an overload in the latter, as it can also cause an overload in the latter, as it can also cause an overload in the latter, as it can also cause an overload in the latter.They also have a maximum limit of current supported per socket, and this is something that is usually also specified on the label.
For example, imagine you have a conventional power strip that says on its label that it supports up to 3,500W but it also says that it supports 250 volts and 16 amps; this supported amperage is per socket, and if you use a power strip connected to another or a plug thief in a single outlet and connect devices that exceed those 16 amps, you would be causing an overload (so you should never ever connect a power strip to another, nor should you use a plug thief in a power strip).
Hardware connoisseurs will now say that PC power supplies support much higher amperages, and in fact some of them exceed 100A on their +12V rail, necessary in many cases to power high power graphics cards. Wouldn’t this cause overloading? The answer is no, because the electricity from the sockets in our homes is alternating current and those Amps from the power supply are direct current, which is what the PC needs to work, and it is the power supply itself that is generating that current intensity from the alternating current that comes from the wall socket.
What happens to the PC if the power strip is overloaded?
When there is an overload in a power strip, the first thing that will happen (or at least should happen) is that your house’s circuit breakers go off, that is to say, that the protection system of the house’s circuit breakers goes off. Generally, in an average home we have contracted 3.3 KW of maximum power and if we exceed that level, the circuit breakers will go off and “the power will go out” before the power strip is overloaded due to excess consumption. However, this is not always the case (it depends on many factors, such as the state of the electrical installation) and there can be serious cases like the one in the example image above, in which the power strip literally burns or melts due to the heat.
In any case, an overload on the power strip should not damage the PC because all power supplies have protection systems against overloads, short circuits and power surges, so in case of overload these systems should be activated and, although they will cause a sudden shutdown of the PC, they will prevent any damage to its components.
However, if you had a normal power strip and not a protection one (or a UPS), it may have consequences, not on your PC directly but on other plugged-in devices such as the monitor, router or printer for example, and for this reason it is especially interesting to have protection power strips and, preferably, a UPS to safeguard the integrity of your precious devices in the event of electrical problems.