5 Ways to Maximize the Use of Extension Cord

Extension cords can come in handy by providing access to electrical outlets wherever needed around the house, yard, or office. They offer flexible and temporary access to power.

However, the most critical nature lies in the safe selection and use of extension cords. In a nutshell, though extension cords provide portable electricity, mismanaged ones do bring shock and fire risks. Some best practices protect you and your family while also maximizing cord usefulness. 

Safety measures prevent several risky circumstances and make the cords last much longer. The longer the cords work, the less money you spend on replacing them over time. Safety should be paramount in every electrical device.

This article will explore five ways to maximize the usage of your extension cords.

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Choose the Right Thickness

The first important step is selecting the appropriate thickness of your extension cords. Thinner cords are acceptable for low-power items like phones and laptops that don’t use much juice.

However, thicker, higher-gauge cords must be used with tools and appliances that draw more power. The heavier the tool, the denser the cable needs to be. For example, thinner cords might be okay with lighter household goods. Power tools like drills do best with thick, heavy-duty wires so sufficient current can flow to run the device safely without overheating thin cords.

A 10/3 extension cord is appropriate for safe, reliable power to demanding tools and appliances. It is made with heavy-duty 10-gauge wiring in rubber insulation. A 10/3 cord can support a current of up to 30 amps without overheating or malfunctioning.

To be sure you have the right cord for the job, always check the wattage of what you’ll plug in. Then, choose a cord with the proper thickness gauge. 

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Use Cord Properly

Proper usage is another key to maximizing the safe use of an extension cord. Never run cords through walls, doors, windows, or under carpets since this would damage insulation and wiring inside the cord. Instead, carefully guide them on the floor or along the wall. 

Avoid pinching cords with furniture or having tension on them too tight, where wires could get damaged.

Also, never operate an extension cord if it may be exposed to moisture. Moreover, all electrical connections and outlets have to be kept dry. An extension cord should not be used outdoors if it is subjected to rain or wet conditions unless the weather-resistant extension is rated for outdoor use.

When used, cords should be examined to determine any wear, such as scrapes, nicks, cuts, or cracks in the outer insulation; replace damaged cords immediately to prevent shock and fire hazards. Make sure that plugs and outlets fit firmly and have no loose connections because loose plugs can heat up with time, which sometimes catches on fire.

Avoid Overloading Cords

Avoiding overloads is another essential way to maximize safe cord use. Overloading extension cords reduces their lifespan and safety. It’s best to use a cord that can handle the current needs of the attached device.

Don’t run a high-powered device through a cord that can’t support its electrical demands. Over time, this stresses the inner wiring and increases fire risks from potential overheating. Always consider the device’s needs and pick a suitably rated cord. Heavier appliances may require thicker cords instead of thinner lines.

A more robust cord allows multiple energy-demanding devices to run together safely since it can handle their combined current losslessly. Following these guidelines prevents dangerous situations from potential current overloads inside extension cords. Proper sizing keeps cords functioning correctly for longer.

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Limit Cord Length

It’s essential to limit extension cord lengths to what’s needed. Using overly long cords can cause issues due to voltage loss over the distance. The farther the current must travel through the wiring, the more voltage is reduced.

For powerful devices that require full voltage, keep cords as short as possible to minimize reduction. Thinner cords may see more significant loss over long runs. Outdoor power tools paired with generators benefit from more robust cords to avoid issues from decreased voltage over distance.

Always use the shortest cord feasible for the task. It prevents unnecessary voltage drops from hampering the performance of motors, heating and cooling appliances, or other electronics operating off the cord. Following length guidelines optimizes cords to support connected devices fully.

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Inspect Before Storing

Maximizing extension cord lifespan also means properly storing cords when not in use. Before storing away, carefully inspect cords one final time for damage. This allows you to catch minor issues before they worsen. If any problems are spotted, discard damaged cords to avoid future shock and fire hazards.

For long-term storage, coils should be neat and cords tightly wrapped without twists or knots that can damage insulation over time. Store cords in a cool, dry place away from heat sources and moisture that cause premature wear and breakdowns. Mark stored coils with necessary information like cord gauge and length for easy identification later. Proper inspection and storage help keep extension cords in usable condition longer.

Key Takeaway

With some best practice guidelines, you can safely and effectively maximize the usage of extension cords around your home or job site. Choosing the proper cord for each application, using cords correctly, avoiding overloads, limiting length, and adequate storage ensure that cords function reliably for their rated lifetime. 

Extension cords are a convenient tool when used wisely according to their specifications. Following these five tips ensures safe and effective power access wherever needed.

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