Nobody uses electronic equipment without connecting them to power outlets. Sometimes the outlet is too far away, and you need an extension cord. Maybe you want to move some furniture around and need to extend your reach a little. Or, maybe your old one is worn out and requires a replacement before plugging in that new welding machine. Whatever the reason, you need the extension cord best suited for your home and garage.
You will marvel at the numerous options in the market. Local hardware stores and online vendors have a range of extension cords in various colors, sizes, and lengths. You must know what attributes to look for when choosing the best power cord. Some are for indoor use, while others can only work with specific electronics. So, how much must you worry about the choices?
Follow these tips to find an extension cord fit for your needs at home or in your garage.
1. Check the Ratings
Before buying, check the voltage and amperage ratings on the packaging. The higher the voltage, the thicker the cord should be. That means it can hold more current without overheating. The amperage rating is the amount of current an extension cord can handle. Wattage is the product of voltage and amperage.
Understand that your combined wattage rating should never exceed that indicated on the extension cord. For instance, two devices with three amps each at 110 volts will have a combined wattage of 660 watts. That means that you may not use all the receptacles on the power cord together.
The rating on the extension cord will guide you on the devices you can use. Never use a heater rated 300 watts on a power cord with only a 125-watt capacity. The same goes for using an air conditioner on an extension cord not rated for heavy-duty use. Doing so would be a fire hazard.
Your garage will mostly run heavy-duty equipment like an air compressor, pressure washer, or fridge. These devices require an outdoor extension cord with thick insulation. This type is also called a water-resistant or waterproof extension cord. The insulation protects the wires from moisture, abrasion, and cuts. On the other hand, an indoor extension cord has thinner insulation. It is not as durable as the outdoor type. Only use it indoors for your TV set, computer, or other low-wattage devices. Also, ensure you keep them away from water sources like the sink or bathtub.
Extension cords come with a range of applications. For example, some have in-build circuit breakers, which is an excellent safety feature. Others have outlets on either end of the cord to allow for daisy-chaining multiple devices. The bottom line is to ensure the application you choose fits your needs.
3. Length of the Cord
The cable on your extension cord should be long enough to serve its purpose. That is, it must reach from the outlet to the equipment you want to use. Add a few extra inches to the length to give yourself some leeway. That way, you can move around without unplugging the cord.
A longer extension cord will be ideal when working with larger equipment. It will also help when working in a vast space. Ideally, outdoor, weather-proof extension cords should be at least 100 feet. For indoor use, a 25-foot power cord will suffice.
Ensure you can wind up the cord when not in use. That way, it will be organized and out of the way, reducing the risk of tripping over it. Some extension cords have Velcro straps to help with the winding. Determine the best way to store your extension cord before purchasing one.
4. Type of Plug
Various extension cords come with different types of plugs. The three-pronged one is the most common in North America. It has hot, neutral, and ground wires and connects to a three-pronged outlet.
Your garage will most likely have three-pronged outlets. They are the safest to use since they have a ground wire that dissipates static electricity. Some old homes have two-pronged outlets. You can still use them but know that they are not as safe.
Different countries use different plugs. For instance, some have three round prongs instead of two flat prongs. Others have a mix of both. If you are traveling with extension cords, ensure you get the best match for your destination. You can also buy an adapter to use with your devices. Imported electronics can also dictate the type of plug you need.
Wrapping It Up
An extension cord is a power strip on steroids. It gives you the freedom to move around with your devices. The best one must help you safely run your equipment without worrying about failure or restriction. You can use it for various purposes in your home, office, or garage. Ensure it is long enough for your needs, weather-proof to ensure maximum durability, and has the correct plug. With these factors in mind, you are now ready to buy the best extension cord for your needs.