There is always a shortage of power outlets to plug in our many electrical devices at home and work. That makes using several power strips a modern necessity to supplement electrical systems in most homes today. But, though power strips are essential in our everyday activities, they are very dangerous when improperly used or when they’re not functioning as intended. The ESFI reports that more than 3,300 residential fires start in power strips and extension cords every year in the U.S, killing or injuring hundreds of people. So, power strip safety must be a priority in every home.
You may have heard some of the horrifying stories about house fires and close calls due to overloaded power strips. Everyone should be clear on best practices for using power strips at home and follow those guidelines to prevent the risk of an avoidable catastrophic electrical fire. Below are some important fire safety tips for the use of power strips:
Understand Power Strip Limits
A power strip can only bear a limited amount of electricity without becoming overwhelmed. When a power strip is overloaded, sparks can fly and very quickly cause an electrical fire. Manufacturers often include information on the packaging about how much total electrical load a power strip can safely carry.
The safest power strip for your purposes is one with enough capacity to handle all the devices you plan to run through it without getting near the strip’s maximum capacity.
NOTE:If the load capacity information is in a series of numbers written in unfamiliar terms, ask the store’s electrical department staff to interpret the meaning of those codes for you.
The most significant figure is for the wattage the power strip can safely handle. Suppose you plug-in devices that collectively draw a total number of watts over the capacity limit indicated, for example, 1800 watts. In that case, you are overloading the power strip.
When that happens, hopefully, the consequences will be no more than a mangled mass of melted plastic power strip remains and some burned spots on the flooring. But, people have lost their entire homes due to electrical fires that originated in overloaded power strips. Remember, to be on the safe side, never use electricity that is near the power strip’s limit. Use a smart power strip for energy savings and an extra layer of safety.
How Much Electricity Your Devices Use?
The most common devices used every day, like the examples listed below, don’t consume nearly the amount of electrical power that would overload a power strip of appropriate quality and proper capacity for them. So, you’ll likely be relatively safe using these small devices on such power strips.
But, it is important to remember that any of the above or other devices do have the potential to overload a cheap power strip that is already being strained by other devices that are plugged into it.
Some appliances, like these examples below, use much larger amounts of power, but they are not normally used for prolonged periods of time, so they can still be safe to use on a power strip without overwhelming it, if not used with multiple other devices running from the same power strip:
Large power tools
The following appliances are much larger energy consumers than those listed above. Plus they are very often kept running for hours at a time. That means these and other machines that are high electricity users can be very unsafe to run plugged into a power strip.
Window air conditioner
Advanced gaming/high-productivity PC
Because these kinds of appliances are drawing power continuously, the maximum electrical load the power strip can withstand is reduced by around 20 percent. This means that a typical 1800-watt power strip can only continuously carry around 1440 watts of electricity safely.
Additional Power Strip Safety Tips
Is it safe to use power strips? The answer is — if and only if you use them safely, taking all appropriate safety measures, and if you use a high-quality power strip that is UL approved, then yes, they’re normally safe to use. However, remember these important precautions when using power strips:
Do not plug multiple devices that each use a lot of electricity into the same power strip. If you are not sure if it’s safe to plug in the devices, ask an electricity expert.
Never plug power strips and extension cords into each other. This is a very serious fire hazard. Power strips typically contain cheap wiring that is lower in quality than the wiring in the walls of your home. Running appliances that require a lot of electricity heats up the poor-quality wires in the power strip until an electrical fire starts.
Before you plug any electrical device, appliance, or tool into a power strip, know your power strip’s load capacity, and know how much power is already being used through it by other items plugged into it.
Read the packaging of electrical items carefully, before plugging them into a power strip, or research through the manufacturer’s website, to be sure the device’s electrical consumption is appropriate for sourcing from a power strip.
Use power strips that feature surge protection. A surge protector is an upgrade offered on many power strips, to protect your appliances, electronics, or equipment from damage in the event of a spike in voltage.
Finally – Get a Smoke Detector
Even if you are being abundantly careful with your power strip usage in your home, smoke detectors are critical backup measures for detecting fire in a home before it grows out of control. If there is a malfunction in a power strip, table-top appliance, electrical outlet, or other electrical items in your home, a working smoke detector is your first line of defense against a potentially devastating loss of property or even lives.
Smoke detectors are ideally effective when used in combination with a home security system featuring smoke alarm monitoring that prompts an urgent response from fire departments and police.
DK Electrical Solutions Inc., New Jersey
We are master electricians serving the state of New Jersey. We provide same-day service for smaller electrical installations. Our master electricians are all fully licensed, bonded, and insured. We offer among our industry’s best warranties on our workmanship on every job.
All our pricing is up-front, so there are never surprises. We offer financing of larger projects, with 0% interest for qualified customers. We provide options for every budget, to make sure you can get the work that you need done accomplished.For questions on electrical safety or installation, call DK Electrical Solutions Inc., NJ at (609) 796-4177, or use our online request for contact to schedule a free onsite estimate.
The EV federal tax credit is issued through the U.S. government’s incentive program to encourage purchases of electric vehicles (EVs). The program started during the early 2000s and was expanded during the following decade. It grants up to $7,500 in federal tax credit to each buyer of a new electric vehicle.
Unfortunately, the government capped the income tax credits each carmaker’s customers are allowed to access. The Federal legislature has made the tax benefit only available to each auto manufacturer’s first 200,000 customers who purchase an electric vehicle. After a car company has reached that 200,000 sales limit, a phase-out period begins, during which the full Federal tax credit is no longer available for customers buying EVs from that company.
In 2018, Tesla became the first automaker to reach the tax limit for 200,000 EV sales. Then GM reached the sales limit too. So, the Federal tax credit program helped encourage EV purchases from the U.S. American car companies, but only to that limited extent. Since the time they met the sale cap, the U.S. American manufacturers have found themselves at a disadvantage in the market, compared with their foreign competitors that have not yet reached the imposed EV sales limit.
Electric car buyers can still obtain the tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles, but only by purchasing from carmakers that have not hit the 200,000 EVs sold limit.
Are Tax Credits for Electric Cars Still Available in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Sales and Use Tax Exemption passed by the State legislature in early 2004 allows a sales tax exemption for vehicles with zero emissions. The exemption covers fuel-cell and battery-powered vehicles, applying the California Air Resources Board standards for zero-emissions that have been determined for a given vehicle model year.
The Federal government continues to provide sizable tax credits for plug-in hybrid EVs and new electrically charged battery-powered vehicles. The current tax credits range from $2,500 to $7,500, based on the vehicle’s battery capacity and the amount of the taxpayer’s current tax debt. In other words, if you buy an EV that makes you eligible for up to a $7,500 tax credit, but you only owe $5,000 in Federal income tax, your tax credit will be $5,000 credit.
Is There Sales Tax on Electric Cars in New Jersey?
A sales and use tax exemption is granted by the NJ Sales and Use Tax Act for zero-emission vehicles. The exemption applies to vehicles that are certified to be in conformance with the California Air Resources Board’s standards of zero emissions for a vehicle’s model year.
Additionally, new electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles bought during, or after 2010 may qualify for a Federal income tax credit up to the maximum of $7,500. The amount of the tax credit varies depending on the vehicle’s battery capacity and the individual taxpayer’s total income tax owed for the year the credit is claimed. Other state credits, and possible local credits, and other incentives may apply.
Note: Electric vehicles for neighborhood use are not eligible for the tax credit, although they may be eligible for other credits.
How To Get EV Rebate in New Jersey
For New Jersey residents, you can apply for your EV rebate by providing your vehicle registration card, signed purchase contract, or other documentation of your EV sales transaction, and your PG&E account number. See more information about the Clean Fuel Rebate for New Jersey residents, or use the easy online rebate application on the Pacific Gas and Electric company’s dedicated webpage. (Pacific Gas & Electric, a San Francisco, California-based utility company, serves New Jersey as well as multiple other states in the eastern region of the United States.)
How the New Jersey EV Rebate Works
New Jersey residents are entitled to a rebate of $25 per mile of range that their all-electric vehicle is capable of reaching, per the EPA’s rating. The rebate is up to $5,000, and it is offered through the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. This rebate is granted for all state residents who buy or lease a new plug-in electric vehicle that has an MSRP of up to $55,000. There may be a limit of one rebate per car buyer.
New Tesla and GM Customers May Regain Partial Tax Credit?
A proposed reformation of the EV tax credit threshold will enable GM and Tesla to regain access for their future EV customers up to $7,000 in tax credits on a new sales limit of 400,000 electric vehicles in the U.S. if the updated incentive program bill is passed by Congress this year (2021).
The original full $7,500 in IRS tax credit granted to the first 200,000 Tesla EV buyers is no longer in effect. Car buyers whose Teslas were delivered in the last half of 2019 will receive only about 25% of the full tax credit, which is $1,875. For 2020, no Federal EV purchase tax credit was scheduled. There are, however, remaining state-issued tax credits, for which many new Tesla EV owners may qualify.
Here is a list of states offering tax credits, exemptions, and/or reductions of EV charging rates:
Different Tax Credit for Residential vs. Commercial Buyers
For both individuals and businesses, tax credits are available for purchases of hardware for charging electric vehicles as well as for costs of electric car charger installation. The cost of EV charger installation is often the largest part of the total cost of acquiring EV charging capabilities for electric vehicle operation. This is especially true for commercial vehicles.
For residential EV owners, there is a 30% tax credit covering up to $1,000. For commercial vehicle owners, the tax credit is $30,000. Use IRS Form 8911 to apply for the Federal tax credit for EV charging.
How Does the EV Charging Tax Credit Work?
In late December 2019, Congress passed a bill extending the tax credit for charging electric vehicles. For filing your 2020 tax return, you can increase your tax refund, or make your EV charging more affordable. Ask your tax preparer how the charging credits are applicable to your personal income tax return.
As mentioned above, the charging tax credit available for individual electric vehicle buyers is 30%, up to $1,000 of charging costs for individual NJ residents and up to $30,000 for commercial EV owners. Use IRS Form 8911 to apply for the credit. The tax credit applies retroactively, so EV owners who purchased their cars in 2017 or later are eligible for the credit. If you had your charging equipment installed prior to filing your 2019 tax return or earlier returns, you will need to file an amended return in order to claim your EV charging credit.
Other EV Charging Incentives for Businesses
In addition to the $7,500 maximum tax credit for EV purchase, and the 30% Federal Charging Tax Credit, there are numerous other incentives for EV buyers. Those other credits include the $25 per mile range credit as well as various other state and local grants, credits, and other funding opportunities offered by municipalities and local utility companies.
The array of EV buying incentives continues changing, so keep checking to learn about new savings opportunities offered in your state and local area. To see the EPA’s current list of EV models that are eligible for the income tax credit and the maximum amount of the tax credit buyers can receive for each model, click here.
DK Electrical Solutions, New Jersey
We are master electricians serving customers throughout New Jersey. Our expert residential and commercial electricians are all fully licensed, bonded, and insured. We provide pricing upfront, so there is no risk of our customers discovering unexpected additional costs after the electrical work is completed. DK warranties our workmanship on every job we do. We offer same-day service for smaller electrical installations and repairs. Some of the important benefits we provide our customers include:
From maintenance tasks to recreational activities, there are many uses for electricity outdoors throughout the year, from using power tools for projects to routing power for patio appliances to decorating your property for the holidays. You’ll need a safe extension cord, designed for outdoor use, to prevent a potentially devastating fire, or serious injury, or death from electrical shock. But, how can you tell if the extension cord you have in mind for the job is safe for outdoor use?
Which Kind of Extension Cord Is Safe to Use Outdoors?
There are several types of ratings for extension cords. One rating is for their type of intended use: heavy, medium, or light duty. Another rating is by amperage: the power load they are designed to carry safely. Yet another rating is for indoor or outdoor usage. The “W” symbol is used to label cords made for outdoor use. There are yet other ratings used by some manufacturers to indicate the intended frequency of use for which the cord was designed.
Check the packaging, or look on the cord, to be sure the extension cord you’ve selected is appropriate for outdoor electricity use. Or, use this quick checklist to confirm that the cord is designed for outdoor use:
Rating Indicator — Look for the letter “W” on the cord or on the packaging. That’s the letter used to identify cords that are designed for outside electricity use.
Insulation — Extension cords rated for outdoor use have additional insulation around the wires in the cord. This makes outdoor cords thicker than standard power cords made for general indoor use only, though there are some thick indoor cords designed for some purposes.
Color — Many cords sold for outside maintenance or other utility purposes have bright yellow, orange, blue, green. Others are black or brown, to blend in aesthetically in outdoor living spaces where cords may be more permanently placed for electricity on patios or decks.
Coverings — The covers of outdoor extension cords are typically made of heavy-duty rubber, plastic, or vinyl. Their sturdy construction protects outdoor cords from moisture, sunlight, temperature changes, and other elements that cause rapid deterioration of less durable indoor cords.
Plugs — Outdoor extension cords always have three-prong plugs, whereas indoor cords may have either two or three prongs, depending on particular needs. The third prong is connected to the cord’s grounding wire, to reduce risk of electrical shock or fire.
Amperage — Extension cords made for outdoor use have high amp ratings, because they are designed to deliver the higher amounts of power often required by outdoor electrical devices.
How to Protect Extension Cords from Weather Conditions
All outlets mounted on the exterior of your home should have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) built into the outdoor outlet. A GFCI is a circuit breaker that shuts off electricity to the cord, if it detects irregular electricity flow, such as when it is passing through water, or a human, or something else other than a normal power conduit.
The GFCI is especially important in rain or melting snow or ice, in which weather events create a lot of water around the connection of the outside outlet where the extension cord is plugged in. The GFCI-protected outlet helps safeguard users from electric shock when using the outlet.
If the outlets do not have GFCIs, you can use a GFCI adapter, which you can buy and place on the end of the extension cord. When using the cord, it should be plugged into the GFCI adapter, and the adapter should then be plugged directly into the electrical outlet.
Tips for Safe Use of Outside Extension Cords
In addition to making sure you have the right type of extension cord for outdoor use and a GFCI, here are some other important ways to help keep people and pets safe while using outdoor extension cords around your home:
Inspect Cords Before Each Use — Before using an extension cord that has been stored, inspect all sides along the full length of the cord for cracks in the covering and exposed wire. Also check to ensure that the plugs on both ends of the cord are attached securely, not loose or allowing exposed wires above the plug.
Protect Extension Cords — Keep cords away from exposure to spots where there is rainwater, or melting snow or ice.
Do not Overload Cords — Do not attempt to run too many electrical devices or appliances at the same time on one extension cord.
Choose Highly Visible Cords — While powering construction tools, maintenance equipment, etc., use cords with bright coloring, to help avoid creating a trip hazard.
Storage of Extension Cords — Unplug the extension cord after use, coil it properly, and store it in a space that is protected from extreme temperatures and wet conditions.
DK Electrical Solutions, Southampton NJ
We are master electricians serving New Jersey. DK Electrical Solutions offers financing with 0% interest on large electrical projects for qualified customers. We provide same-day service for smaller electrical installations and repairs. Our DK master electricians are licensed, bonded, and insured, and all our workmanship is warrantied on every job.
For more information about our electrical services, or to schedule an appointment for a free onsite estimate, call DK Electrical Solutions, Inc., Southampton New Jersey at (609) 796-4177, or contact DK online for a prompt response.
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