Extension cords are necessary to supply power to appliances and other devices from an electrical outlet. They help when an electric device is too far from the outlet to be reached by a standard cord. Other times, an extension cord creates more outlets by plugging it into an existing outlet.
Many manufacturers make extension cords, so choosing the best one for your needs can be difficult. Not all of them are standard. You must find one that perfectly matches your needs. For instance, you might need a heavy-duty cord or one with extra outlets.
Here are five tips to consider when selecting the best extension cord for your home.
1. Confirm Extension Cord Size
The thickness of an extension cord matters because it determines the amount of power that flows through it. Thick wires can carry more current and are better for appliances that draw more electricity. Cable thickness is measured by gauge. A lower gauge number means the power cord has thicker wiring and carries more electricity.
Ideally, you check your device’s manual for the minimum gauge for connecting the equipment to the outlet. You can also check the old power cable to determine the size you will pick for the replacement. Pick a lower gauge (more thickness) for multipurpose cords. A 12 gauge extension cord can serve appliances drawing 20 amps or less, like water heaters, coffee makers, and toasters. 60-amp equipment requires a 6-gauge wire or thicker. Never use a thin-wire extension cord for high-wattage electricals.
2. Check Length Requirements
The cable length determines your limits. Buy one that is too short, and you will not reach the device you are trying to power. First, measure the distance from your working desk to the wall outlet, then check the cable length. Also, consider the equipment’s power cord length. The difference between the two is the minimum size of cable that will help you power the device.
But remember that the length is not the shortest measurement through the air. It includes the distance around furniture or walls (but not across them). Ensure that the cable you pick is long enough to provide power from the outlet to your computer or any other device. A longer cable will be better as it will offer you more flexibility in movement. But avoid making it too long as it can coil around and be a hazard.
3. Choose The Right Voltage Rating
An extension cord should match the voltage rating of your device and power outlet. Standard electric cables have a voltage rating of 120 volts (240v if they are for use in European territories). Check the appliance manual or look for a label on its cord to confirm the voltage rating. Also, check the plug to determine the voltage rating.
Forces of nature can lead to power surges or lightning strikes that create higher-voltage spikes. Ensure the cord can withstand them. An ideal extension cord will have a surge protector to guard your power supply against such fluctuations.
Using a cord rated for a lower voltage than the device you are trying to power can lead to overheating and cause a fire risk. For instance, you must never use a power cord meant for 60v on a 120v outlet and equipment. However, a 120v power cord can work on a 60v and 120v outlet. That is because the value denotes the highest voltage the wire can handle.
4. Look For Extra Features
Where do you intend to use the extension cord? Will you need it in the garage, kitchen, or working desk? Also, will it get exposed to the hot sun, snow, or wet surfaces? If it will, you should pick a cord with extra protection to withstand harsh environmental factors like cold, heat, and moisture. Outdoor-specific extension cords have weather-resistant covers that protect them from the elements.
Opt for one with an LED indicator if you intend to use a power extension cord in dark places. It will help you see the power source. Also, extension cables with breakers offer protection against overheating or overload and are ideal for your TV, fridge, or air conditioner.
5. Consider The Cost
Extension cords come in various sizes and styles to meet your needs. But that also means they cost differently. Opt for the most economical option that meets your requirements without compromising safety. A high-quality cord will last longer and offer better protection against wear and tear, electrical surges, and overloads. But it will cost more than one used for occasional indoor activities.
When working out your budget, consider everything you need your new extension cord to do. For instance, never limit the budget before considering how rugged the cable should be for outdoor use. Also, consider the manufacturer’s warranty before buying a cord.
Choosing the best extension cord for your home can be easy and stress-free when you know what you want. Understand every standard involved in manufacturing power cords, and consider the safety features and length you need. And pay attention to your budget. This way, you get an extension cord that does everything you want without breaking the bank. Be sure to get a warranty or return policy, too. That way, you can get a replacement if it fails to meet the expectations specified.