Extension cords are extremely useful tools that allow you to cling your electrical appliances further away from their power source. For instance, an extension cord is very helpful for someone who wants to plug in a lamp on the other side of the room without having to move furniture around.
A bad cord causes stress and may be dangerous, especially if you’re outdoors far from the house. It pays off to invest in good-quality cords that will last and provide smooth and safe power delivery.
1. Read the labels: UL certification and Underwriter’s Laboratories is a trusted agency that tests and certifies safety. Look for the UL label to ensure that the extension cord you’re buying is safe. Also, any cords rated for outdoor use should be clearly labeled as such or should include the letters “W-A” (indicating weather-resistant).
2. Use heavy wire: For a long cord, it’s crucial to use a wire size large enough for the cord’s current rating. This is often written on the cord itself or in its packaging (if you can find them). It varies with different cords, but 15-amp cords should use at least 16-gauge wire; 20-amp cords should use 18-gauge wire.
3. Longer is not always better: A longer cord means it’s more likely to tangle and twist over time, as well as a drag on the ground, which could trip someone or damage it.
4. Know your amp rating: Amp ratings are important for power tools and heavy appliances such as air conditioners, microwaves, and refrigerators. If your cord is rated for less than the appliances you want to use with it, the circuit breaker or fuse for that appliance may trip or blow, leaving you without power.
5. Consider cord length: For outside jobs like mowing the lawn, you’ll need a long cord; plan on 100 feet or more for riding mowers. For other outdoor needs, 50 to 75 feet should do the trick.
6. Use one heavy enough for the job: If you’re using a tool that requires 20 amps but your cord is only rated for 15 amps, the circuit breaker could trip or the fuse could blow, stopping power completely (which may damage your tool).
7. Take a look at plugs: A cord is only as safe as its plug, so if you spot cracks or frays in the insulation, get rid of it. Also, inspect the prongs to make sure they’re not bent or otherwise damaged. And always use polarized cords where one blade is wider than the other.
8. Store properly: During the off-season, store cords outdoors in a dry place where they won’t be damaged by sun, humidity, or extreme cold. If it’s not designed for outdoor use, keep them indoors and never run an indoor cord outside or through a window or door.
If you follow these 8 tips, it will help you to choose the best one for your home. With the proper extension cord, you can keep your appliances and power tools running smoothly and safely without worrying about tripping over cords or fumbling with plugs.