Electrical outlets are always best positioned close by so that you can just plugin when you need to use them. However, this isn’t always the case, and you won’t always find an electric outlet in the perfect place. In such cases, a household extension cord comes in handy. Many people don’t purchase their electrical cord, much thought even though it’s a vital household device. The investment is relatively low cost and low involvement. Yet, buying inferior extension cords can have severe consequences.
The right cord needs to have the appropriate specs and sizing. Getting these wrong can lead to electrical accidents in the home. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, electric extension cords cause about 4000 injuries every year. Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of these domestic accidents is that they’re avoidable by using safe and high-quality cords like the 30 amp extension cord that allows heavy-duty use.
It’s easy to see how extension cords cause accidents if you understand how this electrical equipment functions. Generally, extension cords are made of several insulated wires with a plug on both sides. Per Joule’s law, the flow of electricity through these wires generates heat. However, when the cables carry more electric current than they can take, they tend to overheat. Consequently, the electrical insulation melts, which can lead to short circuits, resulting in fire outbreaks.
Fortunately, when quality extension cords are in use, all these problems wouldn’t occur. Often, the challenge is in selecting the right cords. So here are five quick ways to ensure you purchase the right extension cord.
1. Purchase extension cords longer than you need
You want to cut your coat according to your size and buy a cord with just the length you need. This may not be the smartest choice because your extension cord shouldn’t have any tension or pressure build up over time. Therefore, it’s always best to get one with some extra room. It’s more convenient and in terms of safety, buying the next most extended cord is the safer option. And just in case your cable comes short, you won’t have to daisy-chain it to another.
2. The thicker the cord, the more power it can carry
Next to length is the size or thickness of the wires that make up the extension cord. This is vital because it determines the amount of power your extension can convey safely. With thicker wires, you can get more power delivered to your electrical devices over longer distances. If you want to use heavy-duty tools such as saws or drill at maximum power in your house, the average extension cord won’t do. You can find the cord thickness listed as AWG or gauge.
3. Go for cords capable of handling 15 amps
If you have any trouble finding the perfect match of length and thickness, checking the amperage rating packaging will also do. Whether indoor or outdoor extension cords, it’s advisable to skip those rated for 13A or 10A. The ideal amperage for safety should be no less than 15A. This enables most household appliances or equipment with fuses or 15A breakers to operate safely. And they should be able to cut off the power before the cord reaches its limits. You’re better off skipping extension cords without this listing on their packages.
4. Cords built for cold weather are usually more flexible
The flexibility of the cord is also another essential property to consider. Generally, some extension cords are more flexible at lower temperatures than others. You’ll find these types less challenging to stretch out, coil, and store safely.
Also, it’s more convenient to use, especially if you want to manage a small space. You can’t tell all these by merely looking at a packaged extension cord. Thus you need to buy cords made for colder temperatures. Some cables don’t have this detail on the packaging. However, if you must choose, always go for the extension cord with temperature listings below freezing.
5. Avoid cords indoor/outdoor cords with multi-outlet ends
The thought of buying an extension cord with some extra outlets seems appealing. However, these types of cords easily overheat. Hence, they’re not the best options if you’ll use light work tools, equipment, and other power appliances at home. Therefore, skip the banana tap in favor of one outlet cords, especially outdoor cords.
Electrical extension cords come in different types, brands, and builds. To choose the right type for your household, you need to consider two factors. The first is the load capacity that you expect your cord to take. Then you need to keep in mind how it transmits electrical current. And you can ensure an extension cord meets these two criteria by checking the wire gauge and length. The wire gauge is the same as the wire diameter, and this dictates the amount of current your extension cord carries and the heat generated in the process.