Product: Plug
Ammeter Extension Cord   (+15, -1)  [vote for, against]
Know your limits.

Most of us are familiar with extension cords with small neon bulbs in the molded end that light up to signal when there is power in the cable.

This idea is mold a small numeric LCD display into the clear jack end that would register the current, or amps running through the cable. The neon lamp could work as a backlight, perhaps.

With many items plugged into the circuit, it is difficult to know how much current you are pulling on an extension cord until it is too late, and a circuit breaker or fuse is blown.

This cable would show you quickly if you are in danger of such a situation.
-- Cedar Park, Aug 08 2008

(?) Kill-A-Watt http://www.p3intern...P4400/P4400-CE.html
I guess the difference here is that this would sit at the outlet, rather then under your desk tangled up in wires. [mylodon, Aug 08 2008]

I'd buy one. It'd help people be more concious of their electricity usage as well. Plug-in power meters can be had for about ten pounds so I expect this could be done without making an extension cord too expensive.
-- Srimech, Aug 08 2008

Add on a green/amber/red indicator (of something) and I'd buy one!
-- Jinbish, Aug 08 2008

- way better than all those professional extension cords
-- hippo, Aug 08 2008

A 10-unit LED bargraph would be cheap and effective. The circuitry wouldn't cost much .... it would sit across the mains fuse built in to the distribution block.

This HAS to be baked somewhere on this miserable little planet ... hasn't it ?
-- 8th of 7, Aug 08 2008

Good idea, but after seeing the Kill-A-Watt thing, I think it's better to have it at the outlet, so you know the total draw.

Oh, and they even have them with bluetooth!

I guess this is very well baked in function, if not in exact form.
-- mylodon, Aug 08 2008

//circuit breaker//

That's what you need, at the plug end. If you connect "many items" to an extension cord, you could start a fire before the house fuse blows. It can happen in an instant, when you're not watching the "LCD" (which per the idea, is set up dangerously close to a "dangerous situation").

My vote is Neutral, since it's unsafe to keep adding devices until it's just shy of "too late". But I'd use it (or 8th's bar graph).
-- Amos Kito, Aug 08 2008

I assumed there would be a fuse at the plug end. Every mains plug in the UK has one.
-- Srimech, Aug 08 2008

// Every mains plug in the UK has one //

The 3 pin ASTA BS1363 plug is something of an anomaly (albeit a useful one). The "european" (schuko) 2-pin plug and the US 2-pin plug don't have built in fuses. They rely in fusing in the device itself, or at the consumer unit.

The UK design adds a small additional level of protection, at the cost of a bulkier plug.
-- 8th of 7, Aug 08 2008

Remember also that many people using long extension cords are already throwing caution to the wind. I think that voltage drop would be as useful as an ammeter because it would give you a better gauge of the cord's condition and what the end appliance is experiencing. A combo meter with a switch or an alarm for both values would be great! Also for all y'all who proposed for an addition to your meter the industry is already on top of that with meters that read in kWh and even offer a direction of flow in case you are feeding back into the grid.
-- WcW, Aug 08 2008

I recently saw someone attach too high a load to an extension cord - two 1kW heaters were plugged into a single extension cord and over a period of about half an hour the whole block of four sockets on the end of the cord gradually melted into the floor and would have caught fire if someone hadn't worked out where the really horrible smell of burning plastic was coming from...
-- hippo, Aug 09 2008

We would pay a pound to watch that ....... we like watching stuff melt.
-- 8th of 7, Aug 09 2008

I can't even think of a minor objection to this.
-- wagster, Aug 09 2008

o.k. he's clever but is he FUN?
-- po, Aug 09 2008

We could work on him...
-- wagster, Aug 09 2008

True. Which method ? The baseball bats and the avocado pear, or the rubber gloves, pipe cleaners and sandpaper ?

But we're not doing the one with the spray cream and the ferret again. The stains just don't come out of the carpet, and the neighbours complained about the noise and the smell.
-- 8th of 7, Aug 09 2008

random, halfbakery