Don’t judge a power strip by its cover

As consumers, we trust a manufacturer to live up to what it claims it to be. When it comes to something ordinary, if it falls short, we rarely suffer severe consequences. But with so many products coming into America from overseas manufacturers, it can be a gamble when buying anything – from housewares to electronics. Therein lies a potential problem. Certain substandard products, especially electronics, can prove to be dangerous – even catastrophic. Such was our experience with a power strip of unknown origins.

Our interesting experience at Creative Electron began with a need for an electrical connection with a rating high enough for our requirements. Our local hardware store offered a multitude of choices, so we selected a power strip claiming to be rated for 115 to 240 Volt. Confident we had what we needed, we connected to the strip, turned on the juice and jumped back when the power strip literally exploded. No kidding, there was a flash of sparks, a cloud of acrid smoke, and then the entire warehouse went dark. Yes, we had a total power outage in our building.

When we hit the reset switch and regained power, we went to work to discover what happened. We pride ourselves in our curiosity and drive to discover the cause and effect of any situation, especially one that includes the opportunity to use x-ray to find the answer. So, it was off to the TruView Fusion x-ray machine to get a better look at the failed component.

We began by opening the failed power strip. What we found was a charred and melted mess. The x-ray showed the profound devastation of overvoltage. We discovered the strip was of poor manufacture and the claim it was rated for 240 Amper was total misinformation. Our discovery proved this could not handle anything over 115 Volt, nothing more. What we found was a total failure of the unit’s capability and the trace elements (copper leads) had exploded or melted. Debris from the catastrophic failure filled the charred housing.

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