A power strip overloaded with too many plugs.

Amperage

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/23/2021

Purchasing electronic devices and home appliances, such as a new TV or refrigerator, is often one of the most rewarding parts of being a homeowner. However, when it comes to owning home appliances and electronics, knowing a little bit about how electricity works can be an important skill that every homeowner should take some time to familiarize themselves with. Understanding even the basics, such as the term amperage, could help prevent serious damage to both you and your devices.

Definition

The term amperage basically refers to the strength of the electrical current. It’s measured in units known as amps (amperes) and is a measure of the volume of electrons in a circuit (or, in other words, the flow of electric charge). Often compared to voltage, amperage is considered by many people to be the deadliest part of electricity because it only takes a small amount of amps to cause death.

What Is An Amperage Rating?

Whether you’re rewiring an electrical circuit or you’re buying a new extension cord, understanding the amperage rating (aka, ampacity) of your conductor is important. Knowing how to determine the rating and how to use that information to hook up appliances and electronic devices is something everyone should learn to avoid damages or worse:

  • Most household electronics and devices only require a few amps to run, so a 15-20 amp rating is probably plenty. However, some devices and appliances require more, so be sure to check the instructions or with the manufacturer for detailed information.
  • One way to avoid major problems is to not plug extension cords and powerstrips into other extension cords or powerstrips, unless they are rated properly. Understanding amperage ratings is necessary because drawing too much current through multiple devices from one outlet can be dangerous.
  • WARNING! Working with electricity can be dangerous, even for experienced DIYers. If you’re unsure about working with electricity, you should probably consult a professional electrician.
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