Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

Sustainability vs Safety: Kensington SmartSockets

I get stoked when things I buy last a long time…

…so when this Kensington power strip failed, I actually felt accomplished. I got this in 2000, when I got my first Powermac. It’s a great design, and has always worked great. Then recently, the power button was having some issues.

So I ordered a replacement one. But before chucking this one, I took it apart. What I found caused me to immediately return the new one.

The power switch issue turned out to be a broken plastic retaining collar inside. It seemed a lot of the plastic inside had grown brittle over the years. However, when you realize that it is only that plastic holding the spacing between the electric bus bars, then the unit starts to seem sketchy.

Here’s where it got even sketchier. The main power line coming into the box, had at some point, caught on fire. And I had no idea. But it essentially had heated to the point where much of the insulation around the conductor was missing.

So, basically, if this thing were to be dropped, the aged plastic would most likely fracture, and this big conductor, now missing insulation, would just be wiggling around inside the box, ready to make contact with anything.

So I have a few takeaways. 1) Plastic is a horrible material for long-term electrical enclosure use. 2) It would be wise to either open and inspect, or just simply replace, older power strips, regardless of function, and perhaps even in the best scenario’s construction. The fact that this conductor had melted could have happened in a metal box (and perhaps arc’d to the chassis), but essentially, it got surged, was fucked, yet still functioned well enough that I had no idea it happened, until something completely unrelated led to me taking it apart.

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Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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