Electricity – Tools to enable sanity

by tim1bgdpo

Recall all those tools and toys in Sanity and Connectivity?  A whole bunch of them use electricity.


It’s not the electricity that is the potential problem, it’s the number of power outlets available to plug in your toys.

Let’s take an audit around my lift chair:

  • The lift chair
  • Laptop charger
  • Cell phone charger
  • Table lamp
  • Floor lamp
  • Heating pad

That’s six things that need to be plugged in, some of them have three-prong (grounded) plugs, and the chair is about eight feet from the nearest wall outlet (and that only has two sockets).  My bed recovery venue isn’t much better … take away the floor lamp and lift chair, but add back in a clock radio.

Our setup:

  • I bought a heavy-duty, three prong extension cord to get power from the wall over to the recovery venue (e.g. chair or bed)
  • I bought enough additional extension cords to provide all the sockets needed.  These extension cords can be much shorter and they don’t all need to be three prong, but you have more flexibility if they are.
  • I crawled around on the floor setting everything up before my surgery
  • Repeat for each venue

Notice that I didn’t use, or recommend, a power strip to get the extra sockets.  They work fine for many applications, but some of the tools I need to plug in are wall warts, big rectangular power transformers that plug directly into the wall socket and then have a thin low voltage cord that connects to the tool.  For an example, see this.  The problem is that power strips usually have their sockets closely spaced.  Two big wall warts can easily cover up all six sockets in a typical power strip.  Multiple short heavy-duty extension cords give you more flexibility.
I have used these for the short three prong extension cords, and they are great for traveling and charging your toys in the hotel.


If your tool or toy doesn’t need to be plugged in, it probably uses batteries.  Stock up before the surgery.  Buy early, buy often, buy lots.  Alkaline batteries have a long shelf life and you will be able to use them in the future.

To bring some geek content back into this section, consider getting a battery tester so you can periodically check the status of your supply.  Read the review on the one I own here.  It is solid, reliable and I highly recommend it.  The same company makes a smaller model that tests fewer types of batteries and is less expensive, but still tests most of the battery types found in the home.

(While you are at Ken Rockwell’s site, take some time to look around.  This is one of my favorite photography sites and he also is a great source for audio and video information.)

What type of battery to buy?  I use alkaline of a known brand such as Duracell, Rayovac or Eveready.  Don’t bother with non-alkaline “heavy-duty” batteries.  Their capacity is much lower than alkaline batteries.

I also do not bother with the large packages of store brand alkaline batteries like you can find at Costco, Sam’s Club, and other stores.  Because I have that fancy battery tester, I check my batteries when I use them.  I have found that a significant number of the store-brand batteries are weak before I even use them.  This isn’t a scientific study, but I can’t recall any brand name battery that wasn’t 100%, even after months of storage prior to use.  Brand name batteries are a little more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.  Go for reliability.