Wired devolution
January 5, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

My bedroom has one electrical outlet. I currently have 3 surge protectors plus the occasional extension cord so that I can plug in my ipod. All of the outlets in each of the surge protectors aren't being used, but since they are only six ft long they just don't extend far enough.

Am I missing something? How are people plugging in all of their electrical components? There are wires right in the middle of the room and someone's always tripping on them. The cats ignore them thank goodness but they have occasionally shut the power off during their psycho cat stampedes.

I need super long cords that I can line up against the wall on different sides of the room. I can't be poking holes in the walls either. And if you're wondering just how many things I need to plug in - alarm clock, tv, xbox, computer, modem, lamp, cordless phone (yes I still have a land line, no cell phone), printer. Plus the occasional fan, iron, speaker, ipod charger... The load is really light in the other rooms.
posted by mokeydraws to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Is this what you need?
posted by allthewhile at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2011

Black & Decker Multi Outlet Cord 25`, 14 Gauge With Three Outlets.

"...3 Outlets Spaced at 8 ft. Intervals..."
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2011

I'm not sure what your question is. Home Depot sells long, durable extension cords.

But honestly, you need to have another outlet in your room. That is way too much stuff for a single circuit. Do you rent or own? Most electrical codes require an outlet on every wall longer than, like, two feet.
posted by InsanePenguin at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2011

Is your house old? Electrical code these days generally states that there should be no more than 6 ft of linear wall before an outlet (leading to a spacing of 12' between outlets). Of course, in practice there are many situations where this doesn't happen.

The rest of us make do with extension cords, yes. There isn't anything inherently wrong or dangerous with using extension cords. Make sure that they are in good shape and properly grounded. In your case I would plug a power bar or two into the outlet, and then run extension cords as needed. If you have to add another power bar to the end of the extension cord, go for it. The power bars will have mini breakers that offer an additional measure of protection.

The only real high draw device on your list is your iron. A typical clothes iron can run 1000-1800 watts, which could put you over the suggested max of around 1400 watts per circuit.

Consider this - even if your room had electrical outlets spaced 2 feet apart, they would likely all be on the same circuit, so you wouldn't really be gaining anything other than cleanliness of wiring.
posted by davey_darling at 1:53 PM on January 5, 2011

Consider this - even if your room had electrical outlets spaced 2 feet apart, they would likely all be on the same circuit, so you wouldn't really be gaining anything other than cleanliness of wiring.

Maybe my house is strange, but all of our rooms (not including bathrooms) are split onto two different circuits to avoid this problem.

OP, just don't daisy-chain surge protectors and you should be good (i.e. not burn your house down.)
posted by InsanePenguin at 1:57 PM on January 5, 2011

Of course I forgot an important detail - I live in an apartment building. I don't know how old it is. The kitchen has several outlets but they did a bunch of work in there before we moved in. The living room has 3 outlets.
posted by mokeydraws at 2:00 PM on January 5, 2011

If you live in a medium to crappy apartment building, likely it's just crappy and that's the way it is. One outlet in a bedroom sounds like a converted house problem, though, and lame at any rate. I'd at least as the landlord or management company whether the outlets are grounded. That will cut down significantly on your risk. However, at the very least I would suggest moving either the xbox/tv or your computer onto a different circuit (room, from the sounds of it). You need more outlets for your stuff. You may also have legal options as a tenant if you really want to pursue it.
posted by rhizome at 2:14 PM on January 5, 2011

Ok, so you're renting. Good. Look into your local electrical codes; I'll eat my most awesome hat if they don't require at least one outlet per room. Bring this up with your landlord.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:27 PM on January 5, 2011

Bedrooms generally had pretty low standards for outlets for most of electrified history. Before gadgets, what needed power in a bedroom? The lamp. Maybe an electric alarm clock, starting in the 60s.

Even modern codes don't require all that many outlets.

So the solution is better cords.
posted by gjc at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2011

InsanePenguin: Most places have grandfather clauses about that sort of thing, and only if there is remodeling/construction do the outlets have to come up to code. We have an out of code first floor from the 60s and a brand new second floor - we had to upgrade the circuit breaker panel and the upstairs had to have up to code outlets, but the original part of the house doesn't.
posted by kpht at 4:11 PM on January 5, 2011

I agree. In SF, most hardware stores (even the mom & pop ones) sell long extension cords (say, 15 feet) to help renters respond to the outlet situation in old apartments. My room is ringed with extension cords. These cords only have 1-2 outlets at the end; I then plug my surge protectors into those guys.
posted by samthemander at 4:50 PM on January 5, 2011

kpht -

Yes, many places do grandfather, but also a lot of municipalities will require annual or bi-annual inspections for rental properties and things like electrical violations are usually NOT grandfathered.

I would check local code and follow-up with your landlord to see about getting that remedied. Personally, I wouldn't own a rental property without updating the electrical. In my old house I know better than to overload the old knob and tube wiring...I dont' think I would trust a renter to have the knowledge to do that. The $3,000 to upgrade the electrical is a small price to pay for peace of mind and knowing that nobody could potentially die.
posted by tgrundke at 7:03 PM on January 5, 2011

I'm in the same situation: my SF flat was built in 1910 and in most rooms there's only one electrical outlet. Because, after all, we really only need to plug in the radio, right?
posted by sfkiddo at 7:09 PM on January 5, 2011

I'm a landlord, and this wouldn't by any stretch be an "electrical violation". If the provided equipment were malfunctioning or in a dangerous condition, yes, but unless I rehabbed the entire unit, I would not have to put in new outlets to match modern code. This is a derail, and very unlikely to solve the OP's problem.

I had an apartment in Chicago (well, Evanston) that was this bad. I had lots of computer equipment back then and only a cell phone to charge. It was a problem. It was also, annoyingly, not grounded, which may have contributed to the time that my PC got fried due to some street work.

Anyway, I would either get one of the really, really long extension cords and bring that along the walls to the other side of the room, or use duck tape to secure the cord on the floor and put a throw rug or something over it. This is really a bit more dangerous because you can both trip on it injuring yourself or pull various electrical things out of their sockets or, worst case, eventually fray the cord to where it shorts out itself. So around the wall is safer unless there is no alternative, although they do sell rubber gaskets that you can stick the cords in.

Essentially this is a live and learn situation. When you rent your next place, be sure that you have enough electrical.
posted by dhartung at 10:23 PM on January 5, 2011

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