Today, extensions have many uses in our homes. They help you charge and use multiple power gadgets simultaneously. We cannot do without them as they make our life convenient and more flexible.
However, choosing the right one for your specific needs is not a simple task. You need to check many factors to ensure that they will serve you well and not cause damage to your property or harm you. In this blog post, we give you five crucial tips to make your search easy.
1. Check The Power Rating
Ensure that the cord can handle the amount of power that will run through it. Note the amperage of your equipment as this will make it easier for you to know which strip to buy. For heavy-duty uses, go for those with higher amperage, such as a 50 amp extension cord.
To help you know the power rating of the strip, check the value of the amps, volts, and watts. Amperes (amps) is the value of the maximum amount of electricity that should flow through the wire.
Voltage (volts) shows the resistance of the wire to electric flow. The higher the amps, the higher the resistance. Wattage (watts) is the amount of power in the strip, and it is the product of amps and volts.
2. What You Will Use It For
Consider what you will plug into the extension cord and where you will use it before purchasing it. The materials of outdoor extension cords are tougher than those of indoor ones to withstand elements of weather and friction. Never use an indoor extension cord outdoors, as this will probably cause electrocution, overheating, or a fire.
Additionally, you must know how often you will use the cord. You can choose a 14-gauge cord if you frequently use it to power your television, drill, or table saw. 16-gauge electrical wires are suitable for occasional use, such as powering holiday lights or portable fans.
If you use the cord with tools that consume a lot of power, go for the heavy-duty cords with a 10-gauge or 12-gauge rating. These tools include circular saws, chainsaws, and air compressors.
Also, before buying your strip, ensure you check the letters written on the cover:
- S – For general use
- W – Outdoor use
- J – 300 voltage insulation for heavy equipment. If the J is missing, it must have 600V insulation for heavier work.
- P – Use in equipment with parallel wire construction such as air conditioners
- T – Has a vinyl thermoplastic cover
- E – The jacket is thermoplastic elastomer rubber
- O – Oil-resistant
3. Consider The Length of The Cord
The cord length of electrical strips varies from 1 foot to over 100 feet. It is not advisable to purchase extension cords with a very long wire, despite the temptation. The longer the cable, the longer the distance that the power has to move. It results in an increase in the voltage drop that occurs because of the increase in the wire’s resistance to electric flow.
Therefore, the total power reaching your machine will be lower, causing the device and power outlet to strain. As a result, your appliances will have to work harder to draw enough electricity to power themselves, reducing the lifespan of the machines.
Shorter extension cords have a lower voltage drop, so you should aim to buy the shortest one possible that will serve you well. To help you buy an extension cord of the right length, check the distance you want to move the power and amps. Check the values against those provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
4. Correct Gauge Rating
The American Wire Gauge (AWG) rating on the jacket is the rating on the thickness of the copper wire on the strip. Wires with a higher AWG value have a small radius and can carry more power, while those with a small value are very thick and allow less energy to flow through.
The gauge value helps you know the use of the cord and the conditions you can use it in without causing a power surge. The most common gauges in the United States are 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.
They always pair the gauge rating with the number of wires inside the jacket. If there are three wires and the gauge is 10, you will see 10/3.
5. Check The Plug Type
There are two types of plugs that extension cords can have – two prongs or three prongs. The one with the three prongs is safer than the two prongs because it has ground wire. If you will use the cord with larger appliances, ensure you buy a three-prong one.
Also, check the prongs on your equipment’s cord before selecting an electrical strip. It is impossible to insert a three-prong appliance into a two-slotted socket, but you can insert two-prong equipment into a three-slot socket.
Extension cords enable you to use electrical gadgets and equipment far from the primary outlet, making your work easier. However, your safety and that of your property are paramount. Always follow precautions, and pair your machine with the right cord to lengthen the lifespan of your extension cord and the device.