Ever found yourself hooked to a wall via your phone charger, just because the wire just isn’t long enough? Or perhaps, you haven’t got much use of the lawn mower for want of a power outlet? We’ve all been there! Having an electrical outlet positioned right next to where you are working for easy access isn’t always the case. This is where an extension cable can come in handy. But with a lot of options out there, knowing which one is the right for you, is safe for use, adheres to your requirements, and delivers the best performance can be tricky. Thankfully, we’ve got just what you need to help you make the right decision.
Why making the right choice is important?
If done wrong, your decision could prove downright dangerous. How do you ask? Safety is important while choosing an extension cable as a wrong choice can lead to accidents and in extreme cases residential fires.
To understand why extension leads can be dangerous you need to know their structure. It is a bundle of insulated electrical wires built with a plug at each end. When electric current flows through these wires heat is generated. Sometimes this flow of heat can be too much and it can melt the plastic insulation of the wires which can cause short circuits and, in some cases, fires. Improper insulation can also result in shocks and other related hazards. This is why choosing the right extension leads is crucial. Because safety always comes first!
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Tips For Choosing an Extension Cable:
Buy A Length Longer Than What You Need
Extension cords come in multiple lengths. You may make measurements beforehand to figure out the length of the extension cable you want. Always buy one that is longer than what you need. Not only will it be convenient but it helps you with future scenarios where you might need the cable for a different room. Plugging in multiple extension leads into one another is not safe as it creates electric resistance which leads to voltage drops. It can also lead to extra heat buildup.
The thickness of the wire
Thicker wires can carry more power over longer distances with more safety. If you are working at a sizable distance from the power outlet, make sure you buy an extension cable that has the appropriate thickness. For heavy-duty appliances like drills, vacuums, etc. extension cables with thick wires are a necessity.
Always buy extension cords that are rated at least 15A. You should skip cords that don’t come with an ampere listing on the packaging.
Look for cables that are listed to perform even below-freezing temperatures. Such cables are more flexible and give constant performance even during winters. Flexible cables are also easy to stretch, coil effortlessly, and a breeze when it comes to storage.
Indoor Extension cords vs outdoor
An indoor extension cord as the name suggests is built for handling appliances inside the house or a building. Since they are not exposed to changing temperatures and weather like an outdoor extension cable, the insulation capacity is lower and is less durable. Outdoor extension cables have better insulation to protect against varying temperatures and moisture.
They are also more powerful as they are generally used for handling much more powerful appliances compared to an indoor extension cable. So, if you are planning to do heavy-duty work and need an extension that can best support it go for an outdoor extension cord. For smaller appliances like lamps, kitchen tools, computer articles, etc. an indoor extension cord is more apt.
Two- or Three-Pronged Plug
Extension cords come with either two-pronged or three-pronged plugs. Three-pronged plugs are considered safer and reduce the risk of shock and electric fires. Two-prong extension cords are not grounded, like three plugged, which have a higher risk of fire hazards and short circuits.
Only Buy Ones That Are Approved by An Independent Testing Lab
This is quite self-explanatory. Look for extension leads that are approved by an independent lab that approves its safety and all the claims made by the manufacturer. This way you won’t be buying something solely based on unverified claims made by the producer. An approved product will also give you more confidence when you use it.
Many of us have used extension cords for years now without considering the above listed things before making a buying decision. However, an extension cord should be bought with utmost safety and it’s imperative to keep in mind these things when you are out to buy a new extension cable. Finding an extension cable at a brick-and-mortar store that fits your needs can be a problem because of limited options. Along with that, online stores properly list safety instructions and give you more information at a single glance.
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