Powering and charging devices

Power boards

Before buying or using a power board, check that it has been Australian tested and certified as safe to use. Safety approved power boards have overload protection measures built into them to prevent them from overheating and causing electric shocks.

It is illegal to sell or hire out power boards that don’t have necessary safety approvals.

When you’re using a power board, make sure:

  • plugs fit firmly into the sockets
  • the board and cord are not damaged
  • the board isn’t discoloured, dirty or wet
  • there is ventilation around it, so it doesn’t overheat
  • it is out of reach of children and pets
  • there is a safety switch on the electrical circuit that is powering the board.

To keep safe, don’t:

  • overload the board with multiple appliances
  • plug double or triple adaptors into the board
  • plug one power board into another
  • use it in dusty or polluted environments, eg workshops or building sites
  • use it in wet areas, eg bathrooms or outside in bad weather
  • connect appliances that need a lot of power, eg portable room heaters. Plug these appliances directly into permanent wall outlets
  • use it as a substitute for permanent power outlets, as it’s more likely to be damaged by dirt and dust.

Extension cords

Before you use an extension cord, make sure:

  • it has a three-pin plug that includes earth, active and neutral wires – never use twin flex (two wire) as an extension cord
  • it is fully unwound, so it doesn’t overheat
  • it can’t be walked or driven over, which could damage the cord and expose live wires. Ideally, mount the cord on a fixture at a height of 2.5 m (8.2 feet) using tape or cable ties
  • it isn’t damaged, cut, wet, or in danger of coming into contact with water – if it gets wet, switch off the power, unplug the cord, dry it well and check it isn’t damaged before using it again.

To keep safe, don’t:

  • join extension cords together – if you need a cord longer than 25 m, get a licensed electrician to install a fixed powerpoint in a convenient location
  • overload the cord – the maximum load must be less than 2,400 watts but check the labelling on the cord to see how many watts it is rated at
  • put metal ladders or other metal objects on extension or power cords, as they may cut through the electrical insulation.

USB chargers and travel adaptors

Before buying or using a USB charger or travel adaptor, check that it has been Australian tested and certified as safe to use.

It is illegal to sell or hire out USB chargers or travel adaptors that don’t have necessary safety approvals.

Unsafe products are often made of inferior plastics and insulation materials or have holes in the pins. These can damage the equipment they’re attached to and cause fires, electric shocks, or death.

When using a USB charger or travel adaptor, make sure:

  • the pins are insulated – check there is sheathing part-way up the pins
  • cords have no signs of damage
  • you don’t use the device while it is plugged in and charging.

See examples of non-compliant and compliant chargers (624.1 KB PDF).

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Page last updated 4 April 2017

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Department for Energy and Mining
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