The extension cord is a necessary electrical item in every home. They can connect to and operate several devices at the same time while also being appropriate for outdoor electrical requirements.
Despite being necessary, they can also pose a safety concern if purchased incorrectly, so you must take some precautions. Consider aspects such as power requirements before selecting an optimum extension cord.
What is an extension cord?
Typically, an extension cord is only a cord with a plug and an outlet on either end. Depending on the cord’s gauge, it might or might not have wires thick enough to support the full current (about 15 amps) that a home’s primary electrical circuit is designed to handle, at least not for an extended period.
Outlined below are factors to consider while choosing the proper extension cord.
Choosing a safe extension cable shouldn’t be difficult if you pay attention to the proper aspects. Secure extension cords should incorporate voltage surge and short-circuit protection to secure your electronics. They should be protected from noise or line interference and have PS markings.
Additionally, they must have an on/off switch to manage the power supply. You can consider an extension cord with a switch with on/off functionality. It is the most suitable option for low-powered applications and continuous operation.
2. The Intended Use of The Extension Cord
Consider the intended application before purchasing the extension cord. It will make it easier to select the best one for your requirements. Determine if you will use it inside or outside. Indoor extension cords should never be used for outside functions, while you can use an outdoor extension cord indoors. The external extension code has thicker insulation to withstand friction and weather effects.
Additionally, consider how frequently you will use the extension. Check the ratings if you intend to use it consistently to verify that it can endure resistance for a lengthy period.
3. Type of Plug
Check to see if the cord has a two- or three-prong plug. It is critical since it will help you assess if it is appropriate. The ground wire on the three-prong plug makes it safer to use.
Notably, you cannot use a two-prong extension with appliances with a three-prong connector. Always utilize a three-prong extension cord for heavy-duty devices.
4. The Length and Gauge of The Cord
Consider the length of the cable when purchasing a cord. The connection should be long enough to reach your workplace or where you wish to put your equipment. Also, make sure you don’t have to stretch the cord.
The cord, however, should not be longer than the required length. Longer cables result in increased energy loss due to wire resistance.
5. The Cable Insulation
To safeguard the safety of your equipment, the extension cord, and anyone using the extension, ensure the cable is adequately insulated. The type of insulation you use is determined by where you intend to utilize the extension cord. For example, the W should be on the jacket for outdoor use and have a plastic or vinyl housing resistant to various weather factors.
Other designation letters are S, which indicates that the cord is for general use, and J, which shows that it is for heavy-duty use. Also, keep the extension cable cold because the heat produced by the resistance of wires to electric flow can cause it to overheat. The most straightforward approach to ensure it does not retain this heat is to leave it alone. Also, disconnect it while you are not using it.
6. Wire Gauge Matters
Not all extension cables are suitable for all applications. Extension cords are classified into light or occasional, medium to frequent, and heavy duty. These phrases refer to the wire gauge of the cord, specifying whether the cord is suitable for heavy-duty or continuous use. However, most heavy-duty extension cords are outdoor certified.
However, gauge numbers can be perplexing; remember, the bigger the gauge number, the smaller the actual gauge of the cord. American Wire Gauge (AWG) AWG 16, AWG 14, AWG 12, AWG 10, and AWG 8 are the most prevalent gauges. Also, the lower the number, the thicker the cable or bundle of wires, and the more watts you can expect to power through it.
A 10-12-gauge cord is a more robust duty cord than a 16-gauge cord, which is a lightweight cord that can be used for less energy-demanding applications.
7. Indoor/Outdoor Use Rating
You can use extension cords both inside and outside. An interior extension cord may not be suited for use outside; however, an outdoor extension cord may also be helpful indoors. As a result, you must choose one that fits both requirements and can withstand circumstances in both environments. These extension cables may be a little pricey, but they are long-lasting and advantageous in the long run.
The length of the cable and the voltage capacity are advantages of purchasing such cords. These extensions may reach further distances within the house and have a significant current ability, allowing you to utilize several gadgets without fear of short-circuiting. They will save you from the strain of purchasing many extension cords for numerous devices in your home.
Sometimes after purchasing an extension cord, you find out it cannot support more than one device; as a result, you must get a new extension cord to support more devices. The gadgets you have and the intended use of the extension cord should determine how much amperage you require.
Most extension cables have an amp rating of 10 to 20 amps. To prevent overload issues, you must choose one with the appropriate capacity. It is advised to purchase one with a little bit more amperage to meet your current and future needs.
However, even though it can handle high-voltage power, overloading one extension with multiple devices can result in mishaps.
How to Store Extension Cords?
Cords thrown into improper storage eventually deteriorate and stop working. The fact that the cords “pig-tail” or become curly is one of the most prevalent issues.
One of the two causes of this is incorrect storage. When an extension cord is wrapped incorrectly, it curls. The second cause of cord curling is frequently run over and improperly handled when in use.
Extension cords should be appropriately stored and kept out of the cleaning path.
Electrical extension cables are available in various styles, brands, and constructions. Two criteria must be considered when deciding on the best type for your household. The first is the expected load capacity of your cord. Then you must consider how it transmits electrical current. You can also guarantee that an extension cord fits these two requirements by inspecting the wire gauge and length.