You may often use extension cords in and around your home, but are you aware that using the incorrect types of extension cords could be extremely dangerous? According to the United States Product Safety Commission, extension cords are among the most dangerous electrical appliances in homes today because they are often misused. Knowing this, you will probably want to do some research before you buy any types of extension cords in order to make sure that you select the best extension cord for the device or appliance you need it for.
Electrical extension cords are available in several different types and capacities today. The capacity needed for an extension cord in order to safely extend power is based on two primary factors. These factors include the gauge and the length. The gauge of the extension cord is the thickness or diameter of the wire in the extension cord. The most common sizes of gauges for extension cords available today include 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. The smaller the gauge number is, the thicker the wire will be. For example, an 18-gauge extension cord may only be rated for 5 to 7 amps and the length of the wire may only reach up to 25 feet. On the other hand, a 10 gauge extension cord may be rated for up to 20 amps and the length could reach up to 100 feet. The length of the extension cord will affect voltage drop. Voltage drop occurs when there is too much resistance of electricity flowing through the wire of the extension cord. In order to avoid voltage drop, you will want to invest in the shortest length of extension cord with the gauge you need.
If you need an extension cord for small devices, such as lamps and clocks, a light-duty, household extension cord will be suitable. Light-duty extension cords are typically 16 and 18 gauge and the lengths can reach up to 50 feet (depending upon the gauge). For larger devices and appliances that need more power to operate correctly, you will need heavy duty extension cords. Heavy duty types of extension cords usually range from 10 gauge to 14 gauge and the length can reach up to 100 feet; however, it is highly recommended that you purchase the shortest length of extension cord for these large appliances. By selecting the right gauge and safe length for your extension cord, you can avoid electrical fire hazards in your home.