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I live in Sweden

I'm from the USA, but now live in Sweden. One of many differences I'm finding is a significantly lower quantity of power outlets in rooms here vs what I'm accustomed to in the states.

Most rooms have only one two plug outlet on the wall. This is requiring power strips to make things work. I don't want to overload things, so how can I figure out what is ok?

Broadly speaking I assume that is something to do with adding up the total draw requirements of each device (but I'm not sure what that means truthfully). Couple that with what I know is a differing voltage, I'm not feeling at all confident in using any prior experiences from the US to my situation here now.

Explicit, general question: What is a reliable way to determine a safe amount of devices to plug into power strips (and by extension the outlets themselves)?

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  • This is really a small appliance usage question (or electrical theory) and not home improvement. Either you exceed the device's design limit and it trips or you exceed the circuit breaker's limit and it trips.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:50
  • @isherwood I'm open for suggestions to other StackExchange communities where this would be a better fit.
    – gilliduck
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:51
  • Well, I'm not an encyclopedia of SE sites, but I'd suggest that a quick bit of reading on the relationship between voltage (electrical potential), current (flow), and wattage (power consumption) would allow you to do your own math. The numbers are provided.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

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Nothing has changed.

  • Each outlet is still fed from a circuit breaker.
  • The circuit breaker still has a number on it (only now, it's not on the handle).
  • Appliances still have data nameplates which state their amps, and/or Kill-A-Watt style devices exist.
  • And armed with that, you still follow Green Acres rules on a per-circuit basis.

And in service of that, you still make a one-time pass to identify which outlets are on which circuit.

And then the same principles above still apply on a per-power-strip basis. The power strip states a limit, don't exceed it - in fact don't more than 1/3 exceed it if you have a lick of sense. They are just not designed to distribute large cooking or heating loads.

Except in the USA, you were at least protected by the UL and CSA marks, which are competent independent 3rd party testing labs. This is a hot mess in Europe - marks like TUV and the BSI Kitemark do exist, but it's perfectly legal for the only mark to be the redoubtable CE. The CE mark only works if the item was manufactured by or for a company with bricks and mortar or financial assets inside the EU, otherwise it's just as likely to be fake. The EU isn't much better at controlling the Wish/Temu/eBay/Amazon Marketplace junkstream than the US is.

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Power strip should have a label on them that tells you how much power you can plug into them, often on the order of 3500 W. That's a total of 16A. In the main panel you'll find that outlet circuits are protected by a breaker of similar size.

To find out the total power of the devices you plugged into it, find the label listing the wattage (in Watts) of the device and add them together.

Power strips sold in Europe tend to be safer than US power strips because they aren't allowed to downsize the wire size.

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  • For someone who is only passively aware of the different power terms, is the wattage the only one I need to add up? For example the air filter has 23W and .4A for input.
    – gilliduck
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:54
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    Watts is Volts multiplied with Amps, and Volts remains constant. They would also draw specify in Amps but the industry has converged on Watts instead Commented Jul 10 at 15:12
  • "Watts is Volts multiplied with Amps, and Volts remains constant." This is not true because of power factor. This answer is wrong: just sum amps, don't convert to and from watts.
    – user71659
    Commented Jul 10 at 18:26

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