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multiple plugs and cords all plugged into one powerstrip drawing dangerous amounts of current

Amperage

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/21/2021

When it comes to home appliances and electronics, knowing a little bit about how electricity works is an important skill. Understanding even the basics, such as volts vs amps, could help prevent serious damage to both you and your devices.

Definition

The term amperage refers to the strength of the current of electricity and is measured in units known as amps (amperes). Amperage is a measure of the volume of electrons (or, in other words, the flow of electric charge) in a circuit. Amperage is considered by most to be the deadliest part of an electric circuit 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:

  • 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.
  • Be sure not to plug extension cords and powerstrips into other extension cords or powerstrips unless they are rated properly. Drawing too much current through multiple devices from one outlet can be dangerous.
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