Not a week goes by that there isn't some story about some bit of tech kit exploding into flames. Given that I have a lot of tech -- most of which is high quality kit made to high standards, but some comes from shady, dubious sources -- I am always wary of fire.
The nose is a good sensor, as it touch (although around electricals that can give you a nasty shock… no pun intended). A thermal imaging camera is also handy, but not everyone has one.
The other day I came across a very simple and relatively cheap product that could help give advanced warning of electricals going rogue.
These self-adhesive pads are primarily aimed at the UK market to attach to our electrical plugs. These dots permanently change color (from a pale pink to a red) when the temperature exceeds 52°C/125°F.
The UK has quite stringent electrical regulations, and that applies to the plug. However, with the huge increase in gadgets coming from abroad -- especially those coming in via places like eBay or Amazon -- the quality of some of the plugs leaves something to be desired.
Basically, there are three things that can cause plugs/outlets to overheat -- poor quality plugs, poor quality fuses, and poor quality cables. One of these can cause serious problems, pile two or three together and things can go bad very quickly.
Note: You folks in the US don't have fuses in your plugs, but I've seen plenty of poor plugs and poor cables causing overheating.
I tested one using a high-power LED flashlight (I didn't have a malfunctioning plug so instead I used something else I knew got hot enough to trigger it), and the dot did indeed trigger at 52°C, and the red color remained once the temperature had dropped.
The color is also very vivid and easy to see (unless the plugs are hidden away, but this would still be useful if combined with a regular inspection).
A pack of 20 Hot Plug Indicator Dots cost me about $18, which might seem like a lot, but that's a lot cheaper than a house fire, and offers peace of mind for my permanent plugs.
Safe Connect, the company behind the Hot Plug Indicator Dots, also makes a range of other temperature detecting products that are available in the US, although at present, the Hot Plug Indicator Dots are not offered.
I'm very pleased with the peace of mind these offer.