At some point, most people need an extension cord somewhere in their home or office. But not all extension cords are created equal. Before you head to the nearest home improvement center, department or grocery store, consider these important factors. Where will the cord be used? Indoors? Outdoors? Both? Do you need it for a computer, or in the garage for a heavy-duty power tool? Is the cord going to be used on a long-term basis or only for a short time?
An extension cord is more than a wire that lets you reach an outlet that’s too far away from whatever you want to power. It’s really a piece of safety equipment and the quality of the extension cord could mean the difference between years of safe use and an unexpected fire. Extension cord sparks are the cause of thousands of house fires each year. Keep your family safe and protect your home by making the right choice.
Extension cords are rated like many other electrical devices. There are National Electrical Code guidelines for extension cords, and they are rated by Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL). The best extension cords are stamped with a “W,” which may be part of a series of letters. The “W” means that the cord is moisture-resistant and can be used in damp areas. It also means that it’s UV-resistant and can be outside. Other rating stamps are UL (usually on a tag), or Intertek (ETL Listed). A cord with either of these ratings should last for years and perform well.
In terms of construction, look for a cord with a sturdy sheath around the wires. Check to see if the cord has a plastic cord protector called a “strain-relief neck.” Before taking the tags off at home, check to see if it fits into outlets easily. It shouldn’t be so tight fitting that you have to force it into the outlet, or so loose that it falls out or comes unplugged easily. Some of the top-rated extension cord brands are Voltec Industries, US Wire, Utilitech Pro, and GE.
JM Mullen is your source for electrical services and information. We’re concerned about the electrical safety of your home or business and are available to answer your questions. Contact us today.