Do you have enough outlets in your home? Who does? These days, with 11 devices in the average American household, everyone’s looking for a place to plug in.
You don’t necessarily need to have more outlets installed in order to solve this problem, although that’s one option. You can also pretty easily convert a light socket to an outlet, use outlet taps or power strips to plug in more devices at a single receptacle, and more.
Outlet taps are those gadgets that plug into an outlet to expand its capacity from two to, three, four, or even six plugs. These can easily double or even triple your outlet capacity, and it’s as easy as plugging something in. Choose one with a surge protector to safeguard your devices against power surges. Some models also include USB ports that allow you to quickly charge your phone, tablet, or other personal devices without the need for a bulky adapter. You can also buy rotating models that provide extra space for bulky adapters and transformers.
This is the best solution for the problem of not having enough outlets, but it’s also the most complicated and expensive. You probably shouldn’t try to install more outlets yourself, unless you have electrical wiring knowledge. Not only is working on your home’s wiring risky, but you also have to pull wiring through the walls to the new outlet location, which can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you think you can tackle adding outlets to your home yourself, do plenty of research beforehand so you can be sure you’re confident with the job.
It’s fairly easy to turn a light fixture into an outlet. There are two basic methods. The more complicated one is to completely remove the light fixture and wire up a new outlet to that wiring instead. The wiring is already there, so you just need to cut the power, remove the old light fixture, and wire up the new outlet the same way — black wires connect to black wires, white wires connect to white wires, and green or bare wires connect to green or bare wires and the ground screw. You may need to repair the drywall around the outlet, especially if the hole for the fixture was a different shape.
The second method is even simpler — just buy a socket adapter. These screw into your light socket just like a bulb, and can accept one or two plugs. However, they usually aren’t able to accept plugs with a third grounding prong.
What do you do when you have one outlet in a room, but you need to plug something in on the other side of the room? Run an extension cord, of course!
Now, extension cords can be dangerous when not used properly — they can create fire hazards, and they’re also easy to trip over, even if you run them under carpet or furniture (which you should never, ever do). Check your extension cords for damage before you use them, never use them in damp or wet conditions, and never use an indoor-rated cord outside. Most of all, unplug and put away your extension cords when you’re not using them.
If you’re like most people, the things you probably struggle the most to find adequate power supplies for are personal devices — tablets, phones, e-readers, handheld gaming consoles, and laptops. In that case, you may be able to get by with a charging station for your devices. They run the gamut from desktop devices that provide fast charging for five or six devices, to fancier models that fit inside a kitchen drawer, nightstand, or end table. You can even buy an AC adapter tap that plugs into your laptop’s power brick to give you an extra outlet in your home office.
These days, you could build a brand new house and still find yourself hunting for an outlet when you need one. While installing more outlets is the ultimate solution, it’s not the only one. Experiment with different ways to expand your access to outlets, so you can spend more time working, playing, and communicating instead of searching for a power source.