When it comes to choosing power cord for the household devices, people often make a mistake by choosing the wrong products. Rather than buying the cheapest and longest cord, here is how you can make a smart purchase by considering these factors when deciding which extension cord to use.

Two Prong Vs Three Prong Plugs

For the household use, two of the most common household plug configurations are two prongs (NEMA 1-15) and three prongs (NEMA 5-15). Three prongs (NEMA 5-15) plug has a round pin for the ground wire use. It helps in preventing ground shock. Whereas, two-prong (NEMA 1- 15) is not grounded. A variety of devices such as electric fans, lamps, charger cords, TVs, etc. support them. However, high powered devices such as refrigerators, microwaves support three prong plugs (NEMA 5-15). Wire Gauge

Household extension cords come in multiple wire gauges as per the applications. A thicker gauge cable would simply use more heavy-duty items. For instance, a wider pipe allows more water to flow through it, while a thicker gauge cable enables more power to flow through it. It comes handy with distances as well. Here are the most common wire gauge sizes for 3 prong (NEMA 5-15) plugs:

  • 16 AWG

    Mostly known as the orange extension cord, you can find them in your garage or basement or similar establishments. It has a maximum output of 10 to 13 amps depending on the length of the cord. It is ideal to handle power tools, electric trimmers, and other household devices. Although there will be a noticeable drop in power at lengths exceeding 50 ft because of its thin wire gauge.

  • 14 AWG

    These power cords have the ability to supply maximum of 15 amps from a household outlet up to 50ft. These cords are usually perfect to power devices that tend to draw higher amounts of power such as dehumidifiers, power equipment, and other devices. Just because of their length versatility, they are ideal for household devices.

  • 12 AWG

    The 12-gauge extension cords are most suitable for contractors and other related settings. Specially designed for power tools and other devices, they enable easy data flow. Its thicker wire gauge provides them with the 100ft usage. And that too without any drop in power. When accessibility to outlets is minimal, they can extend to long lengths.

  • 10 AWG

    The 10 AWG power cords are not for the standard household systems. They are excellent for powering an RV, boat, fridge, electric vehicle, and so on from a standard household outlet. The thick 10-gauge wire would make sure to render maximum power to the devices with lengths up to 100ft. away.

We use the wrong gauge extension cord

Having a thicker gauge cable then the recommended is always better than using a right angle power cord with a thinner gauge wire. When you use a thinner gauge wire, even with right angle power cord, the device may not have power at all. This could lead to a misunderstanding that the extension cord is faulty. But that also means that the device did not have enough power to run. Even if a device running on a lower gauge extension cord initially, it could still lead to problems such as the device burning out or malfunctioning.

Outer Jacket

Sometimes, the outer jacket is an important aspect as well. If you use extension cords outdoors in colder temperatures, a regular extension cord might begin to stiffen up and become much harder to plug-in. In this context, there are power cords available that contain “All-Weather” outer jacket. For example, a cable that is SJEOW means the following:

  • S - Service Grade (Also extra hard service when not followed by J, V, or P)
  • J - Hard Service
  • E - Thermoplastic elastomer (Only UL/NEC designation)
  • O - Oil Resistant
  • W - Outdoors which includes sunlight resistant jacket and wet location rated conductors

As we cannot stress enough on how important it is to take precautions while working with power cords, here are the quick safety tips:

  • Make sure to unplug the cord when not in use. They should be only in use as a temporary electric solution.
  • It is important to use the correct extension cord. Do not make it a mistake by using outdoor-rated cords indoors.
  • Never overload or plug one extension cord into another.
  • Make sure to store these extension cords indoors in a cool, dry place.
  • Do not place carpet or rugs over an extension cord.
  • When you connect it, make sure it is fully into the socket. Also, never force extension into a socket where it does not fit.

In the meantime, you can check out our range of extension power cord here and choose the best suited for your home!