When you need electrical power but the nearest outlet is too far away for
your device to reach, an extension cord can bridge the gap and bring the
socket to you! Extension cords come in numerous shapes and sizes, and
are intended for many different applications. However, are you choosing
the right cord for your needs? Believe it or not, not all extension cords
are created equal, and depending on the amount of energy you need and
where you need it, you should carefully consider what cord you’re
using. Check out our blog now to learn about the different types of cords
and which one you should choose for the job.
Keep it Short
While extension cords are great because they let you bring power virtually
anywhere you need it, you should also think very carefully about where
you will need this power, and where you plan on drawing the electricity
from. Longer isn’t usually better, and in fact, the longer your
extension cord is, the lower the delivered voltage will be. The more distance
electricity must travel, the weaker it will be when it reaches you. This
is because every cable has a certain amount of resistance, which causes
your voltage to drop as well as produces heat. If you can help it, don’t
use a 100-foot extension cord if you only need power about 20 feet away.
You’ll bring better voltage over a shorter cable, and have less
cable to manage during use as well.
On a related note, if you do have to bring electricity to a further-away
distance, never link two extension cords together. This is a recipe for
disaster. If you must bring electricity to a further-away distance, always
upgrade to a longer cord that will meet your needs.
Use the Right Gauge
Every appliance or device has an amperage rating, which essentially tells
you how much electricity that device will draw during its use. Based on
this amperage rating, you’ll want to select an extension cord that
can handle this power draw. Thus, extension cords come in a number of
different thicknesses, or
gauges, which can carry varying loads of electricity.
Think of the electricity going through your extension cord like a water
flowing through a garden hose. The amount of pressure the water is under
is like the electrical
voltage (the standard wall socket in the United States outputs 110 volts, so any
cable that’s designed to be plugged directly into a wall socket
should be able to handle this load).
Amperage is essentially the amount of water that passes a given point every second.
However, unlike a hose where the pressure
pushes the water through, the device that’s plugged in to the extension
pulls the electricity through, as though your garden hose (or extension cord)
were a giant straw.
If you pull too much power through too small of a cord, you will draw too
many amperes (or “amps” for short), and the cord itself being
too small or having too much internal resistance will get hot and possibly
fail, which could result in melting, sparks, and even a bad electrical
fire. A device that uses more electricity, such as a major appliance like
a stove or electric grill, should always be plugged into a larger-gauge
extension cord, whereas smaller gauge cords are generally safe for use
with things like laptop and phone chargers, low-energy lamps, and more.
Never Use an Indoor Cord Outside
The plastic shielding around the extension cord will determine whether
it’s safe for use outside in the elements or should be strictly
reserved for indoor use. The packaging on your cord when you purchase
it should make it very clear whether or not a cord is approved for outdoor
use, but in case you aren’t sure, examine the jacket of your cord
thoroughly. If you see a “W” letter on your cord, it’s
approved for outdoor use. However, do
not use a cord with the letter “S” on the jacket, as these are
only rated for general use and could cause a fire if used outside.
Run Your Cord Safely
Extension cords are a huge trip hazard, and the more you use one, the more
likely it is that someone will eventually get tangled up and fall because
of it. Be very cautious where you run your extension cords, and always
make sure you secure them down with tape or cover them with a large carpet
or rug to make sure nobody will accidentally become tangled in one.
If you own a business and find you are in constant need of an extension
cord to a particular spot, you may want to consider calling a Marietta
electrician and having them permanently install a new electrical outlet
to get rid of the need to use an extension cord all together. This can
significantly improve worker safety even save you money on your electric
bill by helping your devices get the voltage they need easier.
If you need a new electrical outlet installed, call Lightning Bug Electric
today by dialing (404) 471-3847 to
request an estimate!