How many things can you plug into one outlet?

You’re not going to like the answer. 

If you have a home office, you might have a lot of things plugged in at the same time. In addition to a computer, printer, router, monitor, desk lamp and cable modem, you may have a TV, cable box, various chargers for cell phones, and even a fax machine. Those outlets might be working overtime. Should you be worried?


All those devices can be drawing a lot of power. How much? Look at all the power supplies. Most “wall warts” will have an amperage rating, usually listed in milliamps (mA.) The average wall circuit is 20 amps, or 20,000mA. Add up all the listed amperages and if they are over 16… you might have yourself some issues. What can you do?

First, feel around to all of those plugs. Are any of them hot? Are any of the extension cords hot? This could be a sign of danger. Unplug anything that’s hot right away and look to see if there are frayed cords or anything like that. Those should be replaced without any further ado.

Next, simplify. How many things are plugged in that you don’t use every day? What about that radio you don’t listen to, or the GPS you haven’t touched since you got an iPhone? Unplug them.

Take chargers that you don’t use all the time and put them on a switched power strip. Keep it turned off except when you are charging the actual devices; this will save you power and money as well.

If that doesn’t do it, hire an electrician (or if you are handy, do it yourself) to run a second circuit into your home office. It’s worth it. Circuit breakers are supposed to handle an overload, but you certainly don’t want to have to put them to the test.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.