If you are a new homeowner who hasn't previously had the experience of shopping for an extension cord, then you are in for an adventure. While you may expect a selection of extension cords of different lengths sitting on the shelf at the hardware store, you may not have considered all of the different types of extension cords and their various safety ratings. And, this can leave you dumbfounded when it's time to shop.
Since using the right extension cord is the difference between getting the necessary power to a place without an outlet and burning down your house, correct selection and safe usage practices are vital.
To ensure you purchase the right extension cord for sale for your needs and use it safely, follow these guidelines:
Never Use Extension Cords Rated for Indoor Use Outside
There are three major classifications of extension cords you can choose from:
- indoor use only
- exterior use
- commercial use
Since you need an extension cord for residential use, there is no reason to go overboard and purchase a more expensive commercially-rated option. However, if you will be using the cord outdoors, then you need to pay the extra money and buy an extension cord rated for outdoor use. Inexpensive indoor use rated extension cords are inexpensive because they are not designed to tolerate the weather, so they are not safe to use outside.
Use an Appliance Extension Cord for Power Hogs Such as Window Air Conditioners
Some home appliances, such as window air conditioners and space heaters, use a lot of electricity and can quickly overload standard interior extension cords. Since an overloaded power cord can quickly turn into a major home fire, you should always purchase specialty appliance extension cords to use with high power appliances. While these extension cords are more expensive, they really are the only way to safely use an extension cord with this type of appliance.
Never Plug Multiple Appliances into One Extension Cord
Extension cords are not power strips and should not be used as such. Additionally, you should never plug a power strip into an extension cord. Doing this or using an extension cord to power multiple appliances at the same time will overload it and lead to an electrical fire.
Don't Substitute Extension Cords for Professional Electrical System Work
Finally, it is important you understand that extension cords are ideal for short-term use. They are not designed to be used long-term as a substitution to have a professional electrician run wires to an area where you currently do not have an outlet. Adding an outlet is always safer and should be considered when appropriate.