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Power Strip Buying Guide
Power Equipment in Home, Office, Industrial, Network and Healthcare Environments
This buying guide will help you:
- Understand what a power strip is and understand key features
- Learn important questions to ask before selecting a power strip
- Recognize unique power strip features to help with selection
- Compare the different types of power strips available
- Choose a power strip best suited for your application
Power Strip Basics
What is a power strip?
A power strip is a set of outlets that distribute AC power to electrical devices such as computers, audio/video equipment, network devices, power tools and lighting. Several styles are available, including strip, rack-mount and cabinet/bench mount.
Why do I need a power strip?
If you have multiple electronical devices but limited outlets to power them, power strips are ideal for connecting and powering a wide variety of devices, including computers, laptops, cell phones, speakers, lamps and other equipment.
What are the most common power strip applications?
Power strips are typically used in homes, offices, server rooms, data centers, commercial, industrial and healthcare environments where power distribution to several electrical devices is a priority. Some common applications include connecting computers and peripherals, servers and other network equipment, home entertainment systems, as well as workbench power tools.
What common devices are connected to a power strip?
- Printers and Peripherals
- Audio/Video Equipment
- Network/Wireless Hardware
- Video Game Systems
- Office Equipment
- Cell Phone Chargers
- Cable/Satellite Receivers
- Hospital Equipment
- Retail Displays
- Power Tools
3 Key Power Strip Features
- Durable plastic or metal housings in strip, bench/cabinet-mount and rack-mount styles
- Up to 24 outlets and power cords up to 25 ft.
- Transformer outlet options available with extra space for larger AC adapters
How to Choose a Power Strip: 6 Key Questions
When selecting a power strip, there are a few questions you should consider.
1. How many outlets do you need, including transformer outlets?
Choose a power strip that will accommodate at least as many devices as you plan to plug into it and consider more outlets for future equipment. Most outlet strips are available with up to 24 outlets. Remember that transformer plugs are larger than standard plugs. Fortunately, some power strips are designed to accommodate transformer plugs without blocking adjoining outlets.
2. What cord length and outlet configuration do you need?
Determine how far you will place your power strip from your grounded AC outlet and select a power strip with a cord length at least that long. Outlet strips are available with cord lengths up to 24-ft. Power strip outlet configurations include standard, right-angle, front-facing, rear-facing and end-mounted outlets. Depending on your application, a standard outlet configuration is typically sufficient, but front-facing, rear-facing and end-mounted outlets are also available for special applications.
3. What is the difference between a power strip and a surge protector?
Both power strips and surge protectors provide multiple outlets to connect and power electronic devices, but surge protectors also protect against AC voltage surges and spikes that can ruin your valuable equipment in a flash or build up equipment damage over time.
4. Does your application require enhanced safety features?
Some power strips come equipped with all-metal housings, which are virtually indestructible, and 15- or 20-amp circuit breakers that prevent dangerous system overload. GFCI models, often utilized in areas where water is present, prevent shock by instantly disconnecting the electrical circuit in case of a power surge or spike.
5. Does your application require medical- or hospital-grade power strips?
Select power strips are designed for use in patient-care areas or outside patient-care areas within hospitals and other healthcare facilities. These outlet strips are ideal for use in administrative areas and resident rooms with no line-operated electrical equipment for diagnostic, treatment or monitoring purposes. A patented antimicrobial coating helps to reduce the risk of healthcare-acquired infections in hospitals and other medical environments.
6. Are power strips available for your server room or data center?
Yes. There are a variety of rack-mount power strips designed for server racks and other equipment in network environments, including data line protection for serial, network or phone line connections.
Other Features to Consider
In addition to AC outlets, select power strips provide USB charging for mobile devices, including tablets, e-readers and smartphones. Each pair of USB-A charging ports provides the necessary amps of shared power to eliminate the need for AC adapters, leaving outlets available for AC equipment.
Select power strips offer 20-amp capacity for high voltage applications and include a circuit breaker in case the power strip can't handle this higher voltage limit.
GFCI plugs are designed to safely distribute power to connected equipment in harsh environments. This feature protects users from electrical shock in wet or humid environments.
Exclusive, patented antimicrobial protection with silver ionic powder coating is 99.9% effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria like C. diff and MRSA. This patented coating helps to reduce the risk of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) in hospitals and other medical environments.
The coating also meets the requirements of JIS Z 2801:2000; an international standard for evaluating efficacy in antimicrobial products.
Why Buy from Eaton?
We know you have many brands to choose from. On the surface, they may all seem alike. It's what you don't see that makes the difference. With Eaton, you get solid engineering, proven reliability and exceptional customer service. All our products undergo rigorous quality control before they are offered for sale, and independent testing agencies verify our products meet or exceed the latest safety and performance standards. Our commitment to quality allows us to back our products with industry-leading warranties and responsive customer service. It's the Eaton difference.
Power Strip Glossary of Terms
- Alternating Current (AC)
- A type of current that alternates from positive to negative at regular intervals. AC is the standard type of current used in electrical distribution systems by utility power companies due to the ease with which it travels through cabling. Electrical wall sockets in nearly all structures served with utility power provide AC power.
- Ampere (Amp) (A)
- The unit of measurement or electrical current.
- Antimicrobial Coating
- Exclusive, patented antimicrobial protection with silver ionic powder coating is 99.9% effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria like C. diff and MRSA. This patented coating helps to reduce the risk of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) in hospitals and other medical environments.
- The coating also meets the requirements of JIS Z 2801:2000; an international standard for evaluating efficacy in antimicrobial products.
- C. Diff
- C. diff (also known as Clostridioides difficile or C. difficile) is a germ (bacterium) that causes severe diarrhea and colitis (an inflammation of the colon).
- Circuit Breaker
- A resettable device that responds to a preset level of excess flow by opening the circuit, thereby preventing damage to circuit elements.
- The flow of electricity in a circuit as expressed in amperes (amps).
- Electrical Interference (EMI, RFI, EMP, ESD)
- These are acronyms for four common types of electrical interference: electromagnetic interference (EMI), radio frequency interference (RFI), electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and electrostatic discharge (ESD). All four are unwanted signals common in noisy electrical environments.
- Energy that is fed from the output of a circuit back to its input.
- The number of cycles (oscillation positive and negative) completed in one second. In North America, utility power completes 60 cycles per second or 60 Hz.
- GFCI Plug
- Safety plugs that are designed to distribute power to connected equipment in harsh environments. This feature protects users from electrical shock in wet or humid environments.
- A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, between an electrical circuit and the earth, or to some conducting body that serves in place of earth.
- Ground Loop
- The condition of having two or more ground references in a common system. When two or more grounds have a potential difference between them, current can flow. This flow of current is a new circuit or loop which can interfere with the normal operation of the system.
- A term used to describe healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs).
- A frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental frequency. For example, 120 Hz is the second harmonic of 60 Hz, 180 Hz is the third harmonic, etc.
- Harmonic Distortion
- Excessive harmonic content that distorts the normal sinusoidal waveform.
- Hertz (Hz)
- Refers to the frequency of alternating cycles in an AC waveform per second. In North America, utility power is provided at 60 Hz. In Europe and much of the rest of the world, utility power is provided at 50 Hz.
- Measured in ohms, impedance is the total opposition to current flow in a circuit where alternating current is flowing.
- JIS Z 2801:2000
- JIS Z 2801:2000 is an international standard for evaluating efficacy in antimicrobial products.
- Keyhole Mounting Slot
- These slots are included on the bottom of a device such as a power strip and provide convenient wall or desk mounting.
- Metal Housing
- A material of construction designed for tough environments.
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that's become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. Most MRSA infections occur in people who've been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers.
- A unit of electrical resistance between two points in a conductor, such as a wire.
- Outlet Configuration
- A term used to describe where and how outlets are positioned on a device, such as standard, right-angle, front-facing, rear-facing and end-mounted configurations.
- Right-Angle Plug
- Space-saving plugs that allow furniture and equipment to move flush against the wall.
- Safety Outlet Cover
- Covers AC outlets on devices to shield unused outlets from debris and accidental contact.
- Transformer Outlet
- Outlets that are larger than standard outlets and designed to accommodate larger transformer plugs without blocking adjoining outlets.
- USB Charging
- Charging ports designed for mobile devices, including tablets, e-readers and smartphones. USB charging ports provide up to 3.1 amps of power and eliminate the need for AC adapters for charging cords, leaving outlets available for AC equipment.
- 20-Amp Rating
- A capacity for high voltage applications that typically includes a circuit breaker in case the device can't handle the higher voltage limit.