Setting up the electrical work is an important step in setting up a new or refurbished house. That said, knowing and choosing the most suitable extension cord is important. Using an unsuitable cord might damage the electrical appliances or become a fire/electrical hazard. Thus, it is best to know the types of extension cords that one can get to find the most suitable one.
Types of Extension Cords
Extension cords come in various types in shapes and sizes. In addition, different cords have different ampere ratings, plug, gauge, etc. While getting an extension cable, it is important to keep these factors in mind. It is also vital to consider the house’s design when getting extension cables.
Indoor Cords and Outdoor Cords
It is important to know where they will be used when getting extension cords. Indoor cords are very different from outdoor extension cord with multiple outlets. Indoor extension cords are generally thinner and shorter. These cords also don’t carry that much power.
On the other hand, outdoor extension cords are thick and durable. In addition, You have to opt for a waterproof extension cord with a protective insulation layer to protect against different extreme weather conditions like rain, extreme cold, and heat. Generally, outdoor retractable extension cords are much long and can carry more current than indoor ones. As a result, outdoor cords are much more suited for high-ampere tools.
Type of Plug
Different electrical cords have different plugs. The plugs of an extension cord can either be two-pronged or three-pronged. A 3 prong extension cord greatly reduces the risk of an electrical shock since these plugs are grounded. A two-pronged plug has no such function. In case of an appliance malfunction, a three-pronged plug will release the electricity into the ground using its third prong. It is also important to check the sockets where the cords will be used to see if the plug fits inside them.
Another important factor to consider is the length of the cord. A short extension cord provides the minimum voltage loss. The longer a cable, the more voltage is lost, traveling across the length of the cable. Thus, it is best to use a shorter cord for running any appliance with high voltage consumption. Using a long cable for high voltage appliances might damage them due to lack of power. Thus, it is best to go for a shorter cable whenever possible.
When buying extension cords, it is vital to know their amperage rating. The amperage rating is the power/voltage that the cord is designed to handle. Electrical appliances have their voltage rating written on them. When getting power outlet extension, it is important to ensure that the cord has an amperage rating equal to the appliance. If the cord has a lower amperage rating than the appliance, the cord might damage it. The cord becomes a safety hazard if it supplies more amperes than it was designed to.
American Wire Gauge(AWG)
The American Wire Gauge is the unit used to measure the size of the copper wire inside the extension cord. A lower AWG represents a thicker wire with greater electricity carrying capacity. Vica-versa, a higher AWG represents a thinner wire with low electricity carrying capacity. An extension cord with low AWG is good for carrying electric power over long distances. Chainsaws, Wet tile saws, bush trimmers, etc., prefer cables with a low AWG rating. Running these products on a high AWG wire extender will ruin their motor. That said, it is best to check for the appliances recommended AWG rating for extension cables before choosing one.
Other Special Features
Certain cables come with special features that make them safer to use. One of the more common features is a ‘ground fault circuit interrupter’ (GFCI). This feature cuts power to the cord in case of a fault adding another layer of safety. Other features include plugs that light up when powered, locking socket, connector box, etc. All these features are not compulsory and depend upon the buyer’s personal preference.
How to Roll Up an Extension Cord?
There are different mess-free ways to roll up your extension cord. You have to follow different methods to wrap the cord based on its length.
If it is a short extension cord, then the best and easy way to follow is:
- The first thing is to make sure there are no twists because the twisted cord is more prone to damage.
- Now wrap the cord along your arm in a criss-cross way to avoid tangling during unwrapping.
- Use velcro to secure the wrap
- In case you dont have one, just use the end of the extension cord to make a knot to hold the wrap in place.
If it is a long extension cord, then the best way to wrap it up is by a contractor wrap. For that, follow these steps:
- Connect the ends of the extension cords
- Now take the cord over the hand and make a loose knot
- Insert your hand in the knot and make successive knots like a chain
- When you reach the end, tie it there so that the knots won’t come off
- To Unwrap it, all you have to do is lose the last knot and pull the wire so that all knots will come off quickly.
Ans: It is better to enclose your outdoor flat extension cord in a plastic case so as not to be affected by the weather. The cord must be wrapped with plastic or insulation tape to avoid dangers.
Ans: The high-power equipment you are handling, the lower the gauge you have to opt for. The lower the gauge is, the longer the extension cord will be.
There are many types of extension cords, and each serves its purpose. Some are longer, and others are thicker. Some are three-pronged others have lighted plugs. It is essential to know one’s requirements to get the best extension cord for work to avoid using under or overpowered cables. Cords that cannot deliver enough power will damage the appliances and are a safety hazard. On the other hand, cables with more capacity than required will waste that extra headroom.