Extension cords are one of the most common household items, but there are many different kinds of extension cords built for different purposes. Here’s what you should know about extension cords and when they can and can’t be used.
The wires inside an extension cord come in all different thicknesses, which is denoted as “gauge”. It’s also sometimes referred to as “AWG”, which stands for American Wire Gauge. However, don’t get this confused with the actual thickness of the cord itself (though the thicker the gauge, the thicker the cable, to an extent). Instead, gauge refers to the thickness of the wires inside the extension cord.
Extension cords range anywhere from 18 gauge to 10 gauge, with 10 gauge being the thickest. Lower gauge (aka thicker) wires allow more electrical current to flow through the extension cord, making lower-gauge cords better for larger appliances and tools that need a lot of juice.
Most higher-gauge extension cords are pretty thin and compact (like this one), and made to be used with electronics that don’t need a lot of power, like lamps, alarm clocks, fans, and more. These are also known as “light duty” extension cords.
Thicker-gauge extension cords in the range of 10-14 gauge are known as “medium duty” or “heavy duty” extension cords (like this one) and usually look like a really-thick ethernet cable of sorts. They also usually have bulkier connectors at the ends to protect the components on the inside. However, you can sometimes find light-duty extension cords that look like heavy-duty ones (like this one), so be sure to double check the gauge, which can sometimes be found printed on the cord itself.
Thicker-gauge extension cords are suited for more demanding appliances and tools, like space heaters, refrigerators, and more. There’s a lot of controversy about using extension cords with demanding appliances, so we’ll talk more about that in a moment.Read More...
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