Setting up your home entertainment system is exciting. When you get a new TV or upgrade your game console you can’t wait to patch it all together.
But as you plug more and more electronics into that single wall outlet you start to wonder, “Is there a limit to how many devices I can plug into this? That’s what power strips are for, right?” Hold on! The power from a single electrical outlet is not an unlimited resource and it can be dangerous to overload it. Find out how to avoid tripping breakers or causing electrical fires by reading these tips.
Standard US household 3 prong electrical outlets are 110 volt, 15 amp circuits. It’s also commonly listed as 120 volt but for all intents and purposes they are basically the same thing. There are exceptions to that; older houses can have circuits as little as 10 amp and some newer buildings install 20 amp circuits in areas anticipating heavy power usage. The overwhelming majority are 15 amp so that’s what we will base our calculations on. To be safe, you should always check with the manager at your Chico or Redding rental properties to find out what the amperage of the circuits in your apartment are.
Calculating Power Usage
Now that you know what kind of circuit you are dealing with you can do the math to make sure you are not overloading it. This calculation is based on Ohm’s Law. It’s all very scientific and full of math, so you probably don’t care. Luckily there is an easy online calculator. If you know that your apartment has the standard 110 volt, 15 amp circuits you can just plug in those 2 known values and hit calculate and presto! You have used Ohm’s Law to find out that you can draw a maximum of 1650 watts at any given time from that circuit.
As a point of clarification, a “circuit” is not just the single 3 prong outlet. In modern construction it’s common to have all the outlets on the same interior wall share a single 15 amp circuit. So, you have to take into account anything plugged into an outlet on that wall. Since you know you have a maximum of 1650 watts to use you need to take a look at your electronic devices. Modern devices use a lot less energy than they did 10 years ago, but you still need to be aware of what you plug into a circuit. All electronic devices will have power information on the back or underneath, or you can always look up the device online to find out how many watts it draws. Add up the total watts of all devices plugged in to any outlet in the circuit. Here’s an example:
50” Flat Screen TV = 100 watts (approximate average)
PlayStation 4 = up to 134 watts during gameplay
Blu-Ray Player = around 50 watts
Sound System = 350 watts (from 100 to 650 watts depending on size)
Total watts being used = 634 watts
In the above scenario you are well under your 1650 watt limit. You don’t really want to push a circuit beyond about 80% of capacity if you can avoid it. Buy energy efficient devices when possible. This will reduce the risk of overloading circuits and also save money on your power bill. First Choice Power has good tips on buying an energy efficient TV and saving electricity.
A common mistake is plugging in your vacuum cleaner to the same circuit while all those electronics are working. You stand a good chance of tripping the breaker as well. Current best-selling models of vacuum cleaners use an average of about 1400 watts!
Important Note: Many devices have a power spike on startup where they momentarily use more energy, so if you’re playing too close to the limit of a circuit this startup spike could push you over and trip a circuit breaker.
Where is the Circuit Breaker Box?
Make sure you know where the circuit breaker box is in your Chico or Redding rental property. If you blow a circuit late at night, it’s no fun searching for the breaker box in the dark and it can be hard to reach property management at that time of night. When you do find the box and open it up you will see which one has been tripped. Hint – it will usually be the one going the opposite direction of all the others. If you look closely all the breakers will have “ON” and “OFF” labels as well.
Don’t Daisy Chain Power
I know it’s tempting, but DO NOT connect multiple power strips and multi-plug adapters together. Also known as “daisy-chaining,” this is a really good way to lose track of just how much you have plugged into a circuit and overload something. Often cheap multi-pug adapters are being used to transmit more power than they should be and you actually run the risk of melting them and starting a fire. Make sure any extension cords or adapters you use are rated to handle the amount of power your devices are drawing through them. Look at the ends of your extension cords or underneath your power strips and you will see power safety ratings. Be sure to buy power strips with built in surge protection. Unintended power surges in the local power grid are possible and can fry your expensive electronics.
Enjoy Your Hard Work!
Once you have your entertainment devices all set up, make sure you arrange your living room to maximize the viewing experience. Comfortable furniture arranged in the right way makes a huge difference. Whether this is your bachelor pad or family movie night, you want to be comfortable. For more tips on living comfortably in your Chico or Redding rental property subscribe to this blog (upper right side of page) and you will get email notifications when we publish new content.
Moving into a new place? Check out the 13 Things To-Do Immediately After Move-In. Already moved in? Make sure you've actually completed all 13 things to be fully moved in!