Electrical extension cords make life easy for people working in an area where there are no electrical outlets. With this device, you can easily connect to nearby or relatively distant outlets and get your work done without any stress. However, many people fail to realize that extension cords come in different sizes and specs. As such, they end up buying an extension cord that does not have enough capacity required to work with the intended loads. Getting the wrong electrical cable can be dangerous as it could lead to fire hazards, electrical shock, equipment damage, among others.
To prevent accidents associated with the wrong choice of extension cords, you must pay attention to some essential factors when selecting this device. A critical factor that determines that load capacity of an electrical cord is the gauge. There are 14 gauge extension cord, 12 gauge extension cords, and many more. Your choice should depend on your load. The fact is that the majority of electrical cord hazards can be avoided if the owners purchased the right cords. Instead of selecting a multipurpose line, you should try as much as possible to choose a specific cord for each usage. Consider the following factors when selecting the right extension for your needs:
. Plug Type
One of the factors that you need to consider when buying an extension cord is the plug type. Extension cords usually come with two or three plugs. Some of the things you need to consider when selecting the plug type are the power requirement and the kind of outlet. It is worth stating that you might need a special plug for specific safety features and power-demanding devices. Hence, you need to pay special attention to the plug type when buying an extension cord for indoor or outdoor use.
. Power Rating
You must select an extension cord that can quickly handle your electrical loads. This way, you can prevent overheating, leading to a fire accident and possible damage to your device. Furthermore, it would help if you took note of the power rating or the amperage of your equipment. Once you know the power rating, it will be easier to select an extension cord used with it.
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. Environment and Usage
An essential factor you need to consider when buying an extension cord is the environment you intend to work in, whether you are working indoors or outdoors. For outdoor usage, consider an extension with a robust outer layer, also known as a Jacket. The jacket shields the wire from harsh weather, including rain, cold, scorching sun, among others.
In terms of usage, extension cords are grouped into three main groups: light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty extension cords. You should consider light-duty cables if you intend to power your clocks, lamps, and other devices with similar power requirements. These cords usually come with two plugs prongs as they don’t have a third wire.
If you aim to buy an extension cord that can work with your computer, television, radio, and other devices with power requirements of less than 10 amps, consider a medium-capacity extension cord. Note that these cords come with a third plug prong for grounding.
The heavy-duty extension cords also come with a third plug prong, making them suitable for grounded appliances. Also, they are ideal for devices with power requirements between 10 and 15 amps.
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. The Cord Length and Gauge
The capacity of an extension cord is dependent on two essential parameters; these include the sizes and lengths. The diameter or thickness of the wire is indicated by the gauge, which determines the current carrying capacity of the wire. Going for the correct gauge prevents excessive heating and fire incidents associated with using an extension cord.
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Furthermore, the voltage drop across your extension cord is determined by the length of the cable. In other words, the size of the electrical cord affects the amount of voltage lost in the wire due to resistance.
The numerical rating of copper wire is known as the Gauge. It is identified using the AWG, which is an abbreviation for American Wire Gauge. For instance, a 120-volt cord, 12 AWG, contains a 12-gauge wire ideal for 120V outlets. The thickness varies inversely from the gauge number in the AWG rating system. Hence, the thickness increases as the number reduce.
You need to pay adequate attention to the parameters discussed above when buying the extension gauge to meet your power requirements. Apart from saving you the stress of costly repairs resulting from damage to your devices and equipment, it also prevents electrical hazards like fire accidents and electrocution, among others.
Furthermore, you can also prevent electrical accidents and elongate the useful life of your extension cord by following some essential safety methods; some of these tips include avoiding overloading, protecting the cord from rain and other inclement weather conditions, avoiding wire clusters, among others. Finally, ensure that you buy the extension from a trusted supplier to avoid substandard products.