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By , 15 May 2017

Powerboards are one of those things that people prefer to go unnoticed. In fact, you probably put in extra effort to disguise your powerboards at home and in the office. But powerboards do have a lifespan, and extending them past their prime is dangerous – out of sight definitely shouldn’t be out of mind. Do you know when to replace yours?

What type of powerboard do you have?

These days, there’s no shortage of powerboard types to suit different lifestyles. The most basic powerboard is a no-frills item that can be a quick fix for your electrical needs. These conform to Australian safety standards with their overload protection, but feature not much else. Choose powerboards that at least have surge protection (not just overload protection). These are equipped with a metal oxide varistor (MOV) that diverts current to the earth when a power surge happens. You can also invest in a powerboard that comes with insurance cover, guaranteeing a replacement in case it gets damaged or destroyed; or if you have little ones running around, using child safe powerboards is a smart move. Whichever board powers your appliances, check your powerboard regularly for signs of wear and tear.

 A wear and tear checklist

Paul Barron, the R&D Manager of Legrand, suggests asking yourself a few questions to help determine when a powerboard needs replacing.

Is the powerboard housing cracked or does it show signs of wear?

A cracked housing poses a risk of exposure to live parts, which is a potential shock hazard.

Is the cord frayed, nicked, cut, or deformed?

Live wires are a potential shock hazard, and if the earth wire is damaged, there would be no surge protection on devices plugged into the board.

Is there any sign of wear on the plug entry on the face of the powerboard?

If the pin entries have been worn, the entry usually expands and can become larger than it should be, making it easier for small children to poke or insert things in. Larger sockets may also be a sign of internal erosion.

Do plugs slip out very easily of the board?

This may be a sign that the contact pressure for the electrical connections has reduced. This can lead to higher resistance and is, therefore, a fire risk.

Is there any sign of distortion or heat damage?

If so, the powerboard may be overloaded. Check the area around the pin entry for any deformation or discolouration.

Is the appliance plug damaged? Is there a bend in the pins? Is the insulation on the pins still intact?

Other than your board, you should also check your plugs. Bent pins could lead to bad contact with the socket and risk overheating, or pins could break off while plugged in. Damaged insulation on the pins also poses a shock hazard.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might need a new powerboard. Before making a purchase, understand that, for electrical items, the more you use them, the more mindful you should be of their quality. Always choose a brand you can trust.


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