Last updated: 16/10/2022

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It has happened to many of us that after rearranging the room, we realize that we can’t plug our equipment into a power socket. Don’t let a short power cord ruin your new room layout and buy the best extension cords.

Extension cords allow you to extend the reach of your home’s electrical network, providing an easy way to power your equipment. They can also help you work in the garden and garage, as they will help your tools cover more of your home’s electricity needs[as distances. That’s why this guide will help you choose extension cords.

For this buying guide, we did an extensive analysis of the best factors to consider when buying extension cords. Here you’ll find everything from what features to look out for to which extension cords are the most recommended. You’ll also find out the best shops to buy them from.




Summary

  • Extension cords are power cables sheathed in safe and flexible materials, which are used to power electrical equipment from a distant outlet. They usually have 3 or more inputs to connect different equipment, and their length and thickness vary depending on the user’s needs.
  • The different types of cables are classified as “light”, “medium” and “heavy” duty. Light duty cables can be used to charge laptops and small electronic equipment. A medium duty will be useful for fans or blenders, and heavy duty for power tools.
  • Think about the type of work you’ll be putting your extension cord through on a regular basis, and always buy based on the maximum power you’ll demand of it. For example, if you will use it mostly for your laptop, but will also use it with power tools, then go for a heavy duty one. Then think about how long you want it to be.

The best Extensions: Our Picks

Buying Guidempra

Do you want to know a little more about extensions before you buy them? In this section you can do it. Here you’ll find the first things you need to know, from what they are and what they’re for, to the different types of extensions that exist. You’ll also discover their most common prices, as well as where you can go out to buy them.

Vacuuming the room? Reach every corner using a good extension cord. (Photo: primagefactory / 123rf.com)

What are extensions and what are their advantages?

Extension cords are simple conductive cables with a flexible sheath that protects against shock. They are connected to the household mains, and their function is to provide power to electrical appliances far away from sockets. Originally they only provided sockets, today they can even provide USB inputs.

The advantages of these cables are that they extend the range of use of the sockets. They also provide a greater number of connections, as these cables usually provide three power inputs. They are widely used in gardens and workshops, as tool cables are often left short.

Advantages
  • Extend the range of outlets
  • Useful for power tools
  • Allow tools to be used in the garden or yard
  • Provide a greater number of plugs
  • Easy to install and move
Disadvantages
  • They require supervision
  • Can hinder walking
  • Pets can bite them
  • Rats and mice can compromise their safety

Light, medium and heavy duty extensions – what should you pay attention to?

Although at first glance all extensions look the same, there are 3 different types. These are divided based on the power requirements of the user, and are characterised by different thicknesses. As a general rule, always buy your extension based on the maximum power you are going to demand from it.

Light duty: These are usually the typical white extension cords so characteristic of granny’s houses. Their maximum amperage varies between 7 to 13 Amp. These are characterised by not having a plug with a ground contact. They are used for watches, lamps, chargers for small mobile devices and laptops.

Medium duty: Here they start to bring in specialised grounding plugs. They support 10 to 15 Amp. They are ideal for equipment that generates heat, such as clothes irons, toasters, coffee makers, small espresso machines or waffle makers. They are ideal if you do not plan to use power tools.

Heavy Duty: These are the extension cords used by those who work with power tools on a regular basis, and can hold 15 to 20 Amp. This is the type of cord you should use for demanding tools, such as hair dryers or drills, power saws and other heavy-duty electrical equipment.

Light duty Medium duty Heavy duty
Wire gauge 18 to 14 16 to 12 14 to 10
Maximum amperage 7 to 13 Amp 10 to 15 Amp 15 to 20 Amp
Common uses Portable device chargers, small lamps, clocks, televisions Cooking equipment (waffle makers, coffee makers, microwaves), clothes irons Power tools, heaters, hair dryers

Buying criteria: Factors that allow you to compare and rate different models of extensions

Although you can simply buy a heavy-duty extension for most of your needs, it may not be the most economically efficient decision. That’s why in this section we’ll help you learn about all the most important purchasing factors.

Here you will learn what features to look for in your cables for each application.

  • Length
  • Gauge
  • Outdoor use
  • Designations

Long

The best way to know how much cable you need is to calculate the distance between the object and the socket, then add a little more just in case. This is because you may need to use it in another room, or power a tool you need to move. It’s always better to have a little more than a little less.

For example, let’s say you have a stereo 3 metres from the socket in a room whose largest side is 5 metres.

You might want to buy a 4-metre extension, but a 7-metre extension will help you plug it in when you want to put it at one end of the room. Here are the lengths and their considerations.

3 to 7 metres: These types of extensions are mainly for bedrooms, kitchens and small rooms. In the case of the smaller one, it can be used to extend the number of sockets available. They are perfect for places where saving space is important, as they will not get in the way.

7 to 15 metres: Lengths like these will serve you well for using tools in rooms other than the socket. Larger ones will help you with everything you need to use in the yard, workshop and garden. Be sure to store them in a safe place, as leaving them out in the open will compromise their safety.

50 feet or more: When you need to use tools in large yards or on the roof, these are the extension cords you should buy. Keep in mind that these will be very thick cables, so you may want to have a reel or barrel for convenient storage.

Caliber

The gauge of the extension cord will be related to the amperage it supports and its range of usefulness. Oddly enough, the smaller the gauge number, the larger the diameter, i.e. a 10 gauge wire is thicker than an 18 gauge. The longer the wire, the thicker it must be to provide the power needed.

For example, a 7 amp cord 7 m long will be 18 gauge, while a 15 m cord may be 16 gauge. It is always preferable to go by the packaging or the manufacturer’s data on the amperage rating. In case it is not specified on the packaging, you can follow the guide chart below.

Light Duty Medium Duty Heavy Duty
Calibre in 7 metre length 18 16 14
Calibre in 15 metre length 16 14 12
Calibre in 30 metre length 14 12 10

Outdoor use

If you are going to use hair extensions outside your home, you will expose them to the sun and elements that can degrade them. So look for models that are “heavy duty”, “outdoor use” or “weather resistant”.

If you are buying from a North American brand, they will have a “W” designation on the cable or packaging.

Cables for outdoor use often have designs that enhance their strength, such as thicker jackets, oil shields, or lights on the plugs for better visibility at night. If you think you will only need an extension cord for use indoors and in your yard, buy one for outdoor use.

Designations

Many North American companies add designations to the packaging of the extensions, as they provide a quick identification of their characteristics at a glance. Here is a handy chart to help you understand the meaning of the most common acronyms.

Designation Meaning What it means to the buyer.
W Outdoor use For use in gardens, roofs and patios
S General use Indoor home uses
P Parallel cable construction The extension has a different cable design
J Junior duty, provides up to 300 V Supports up to 300 V
E Made from thermoplastic elastomer Often used in outdoor cables. It is flexible and tough
T Made from thermoplastic vinyl It is a general purpose material
O Oil resistant The extension will not suffer degradation from oil

(Foto de imagen destacada: belchonock / 123rf.com)

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