I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this. We've gone through 3 hair straighteners in the past 2 months. 3 different models, 2 different brands.

The outlet is a normal outlet (No GFI) and one of the straighteners had a GFI plug.

Other things like hair dryers and curling irons seem to be working fine, and holding up.

I find it hard to believe that we've just happened to find 3 faulty products. What should I be testing for to see if the outlet could be causing the problem?

Voltage on the outlet is right around 124v

  • Check the voltage a few different times over the course of a couple days, voltage fluctuations can damage some electronic circuits.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8 '12 at 4:21
  • That would be very strange. Does a straightener have any sensitive components? Isn't it just a flat iron shaped as tongs?
    – sharptooth
    Feb 8 '12 at 7:10
  • That was my thought, It should just be a big resistor. I can't imagine it has any sensitive electronics inside.
    – BZink
    Feb 8 '12 at 13:09
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    @BZink Here is my concern... Since the voltage you measured is on the high side of the tolerance level (114 - 126V), I'm wondering if maybe there is an issue somewhere causing voltage fluctuations. This could be compounded by the fact that the hair dryer could be causing voltage spikes, when it is turned on/off. This is why I said you should measure the voltage at different times over a course of a few days, it will tell you if you are seeing unusual voltage fluctuations.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8 '12 at 17:05
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    The devices fail to turn on. No real indication of the cause of the failure.
    – BZink
    Feb 10 '12 at 2:55

124V is on the high side of "normal" for a U.S. outlet. Most appliances should be able to handle that voltage, but some will not, at least not long-term. It's not so much voltage as amperage; the current flowing through a wire will create heat (the "toaster effect"). However, voltage determines amperage: I=V/R, so as V increases and R (resistance) stays constant through a circuit, I (current) will also increase.

There are voltage regulators you can buy for your entire house's wiring. These regulators are basically a smaller version of the big grey can transformer on the power pole outside (or the big green box down the street or in someone's back yard); they will "step down" the power from the incoming line just that little bit more to put it between 110 and 120V, which is the "butter zone" for U.S. electrical.

When shopping for your next hair-straightener, look for one that is rated for 125V, or at least 120V. Appliances are commonly rated for 110V, which is the low side of U.S service voltage and may not handle a "hotter" electrical region.


If you can change a receptacle then change the receptacle. Maybe instead of buying a residential rated receptacle try a commercial receptacle. As always turn the breaker off and check with a plug in light. There could be some arcing or something like that in the old receptacle that electronics don't like. The commercial receptacle is heavy duty with beefier contacts where the plug meets the receptacle. Also, make sure the straightener is not more than 1800 watts. That's the limit on a 15 amp receptacle. Maybe spending more on the receptacle will solve your problem. At least it's cheaper.

  • 1
    Depending on when/where the house was built, it may be a 20 amp circuit. NEC 210.11(C)(3) calls for a dedicated 20 amp circuit for bathroom receptacle outlet(s).
    – Tester101
    Feb 8 '12 at 13:49
  • @Tester101 I didn't see where she said bathroom. I took it that she might have a table set up elsewhere. Still I imagine it is on a 12 gauge run.
    – lqlarry
    Feb 8 '12 at 14:51
  • I don't think the OP said where the receptacle is, I was just adding some extra information.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8 '12 at 15:03
  • She uses it in the bathroom, mostly. I believe that's where the problem is.
    – BZink
    Feb 8 '12 at 16:42

Your voltage is perfect. I work for the local power company and we set our line regulators at 125v nominal with 130 being on the high side and 118 on the low end.

Without being there, it's hard to tell. Sometimes even being there, gremlins like this can be hard to track down.

Some things to look for. Do you ever notice your incandescent lights getting extra bright? Like a 60 watt bulb glowing like a 100 normally would? This could indicate a neutral problem. This will give you good voltage with little or no load, but with load, voltage could get rather high on one leg or side and rather low on the other. This is something that you really need a savvy electrician to check out. With it only happening to one appliance and not others makes it a real head scratcher.

Good luck!

  • Thanks for the info! At the risk of jinxing myself, the 4th straightener has held up for over a year. We couldn't find any obvious problems and thus didn't make any changes to the circuitry. I think you're right though, this requires a savvy electrician. I'll keep an eye on the lights more closely to see if they're running bright. Thanks again.
    – BZink
    May 10 '13 at 2:47

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