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VERIFY: Does Plugging a Space Heater into a Power Strip Cause Fires?

A post from a fire department advised people not to plug space heaters into power strips.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A viral post from a Fire Department in Morgan County, UT, Saturday, could saves lives this winter.

It says “Do not plug” space heaters into a power strip. Then adding that “these devices are not designed to handle the energy load of a space heater and can overheat causing a fire hazard.”


Can plugging a space heater into a power strip lead to fires?


Yes, this is not the only post of this type to pop up in recent years and experts all agree that power strips are not made to handle the type of electrical draw necessary to safely power a personal heater. Experts say the safe way to use a space heater is to plug it directly into the wall.


In 2017, a similar post from an Oregon Fire Department also went viral.

VERIFY researchers went to a lab at George Washington University and watched a demonstration from Dr. Amir Aslani, the Laboratory Manager.

He plugged two heaters needing a combined 3,000 watts of energy into a power strip that was built to handle no more than 2,000 watts.

Once the devices were powered up and turned on, they ran for a few seconds before causing the entire strip to shut down.

There weren’t any electrical issues or flames in the test example, but only because the strip used in Dr. Aslani’s example had a fuse built in to shut down the strip.

Many cheaper power strips don’t have those fuses and would continue overdrawing electricity, causing them to overheat and possibly catch fire or melt.

The National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) keeps track of house fires in the U.S. They state that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third leading cause of home fire deaths.

We can VERIFY the posts are accurate. Using a power strip to supply electricity to a personal or space heater can create electrical surges and increase the odds of fires or heat damage.

For more tips about correctly setting up and using space heaters in your home, check here.