How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Can you plug a surge protector into a two prong outlet?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

While it possible to plug a surge protector power strip into a two prong outlet if you remove the ground prong on the cord or use an adapter (also called a “cheater plug”) at the receptacle outlet, it won’t function properly. The ground prong on the cord is there because surge protectors divert excess current to ground during a surge. With no ground connection, there is nowhere for the current to go. Surge protectors also have a built-in fuse for protection against extremely big surges, but it’s the repetitive smaller surges that often ruin sensitive electronics. 

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  To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:

 • What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?

• What is the code requirement for GFCI protection for receptacles near a wet bar sink? 

• What is the requirement for a service receptacle outlet for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HACR) equipment? 

• Why is an opening in the wall around the side of an electrical receptacle outlet a safety defect?  

• When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required? 

• What is allowable voltage range at a wall receptacle outlet in a house?

• When should I replace electric receptacle outlets? 

• Does an electric receptacle outlet in a storage shed require GFCI protection? 

• What are "self-contained" electrical receptacle outlets and switches?

• What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?

• Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?

• What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?

• Can I remove a 240-volt range receptacle and hard-wire the range? 

• What is a "backstab" receptacle outlet? 

• Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?   

• What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet? 

• Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

• When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

 Does a home inspector remove receptacle outlet cover plates?

• What is the minimum height for an exterior receptacle outlet? 

• When was the current receptacle/outlet spacing of 12-feet first required? 

• When was the three-slot (grounding) outlet/receptacle first required? 

• Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

• Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized? 

• How many electrical receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?  

• What problems does having too many electric receptacle outlets on a single circuit cause? 

• Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacle outlets?

• How I can tell if a receptacle outlet is tamper resistant?

• Why is there a GFCI breaker in the electric panel for the bathroom shower light and exhaust fan?

• What is a false ground, bootleg ground, or cheated ground receptacle? 

• How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

How can I figure out what a mystery wall switch does?

• How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced?  

• How far above a kitchen countertop do electrical outlets have to be?

• What is reversed polarity at an outlet/receptacle? Why is it dangerous? 

• How high above the floor do electric outlets/receptacles in a garage have to be?

• How far apart should electric receptacles be spaced in a bathroom? 

• Is an ungrounded electric receptacle outlet dangerous?

• My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?  

• Is there an adapter that can be placed on a two-slot receptacle to make it safe? 

• How do the new tamper-resistant electric outlets work?

• Why is there no bathroom electric receptacle in this old house?

• How can I tell if the electric receptacle outlets are grounded? 

• How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

• What are the most common problems/defects found with electric receptacle outlets during a home inspection?

   Visit our ELECTRICAL page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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