How to Choose the Right Extension Cord
By Victoria Figueiredo
The holidays tend to be our favorite time of year. Not for the one week of relative cold that constitutes Florida winter, but because everything is shiny and sparkly! We appreciate the glitter. We also appreciate how things are made to glitter by way of string light and extension cord rig. A fine art indeed. Why are the pretty glittering lights getting their own, dedicated post? Because using the wrong extension cords for power can turn the pretty glittering lights into a flaming ball of destruction! Not exactly the warm and cozy vibes we’re going for this winter. Do yourself a favor and read through this list of cord types and their best uses before making your home, Christmas tree, Hanukkah bush, or non-denominational holiday foliage arrangement sparkle.
- Light Duty Cords
These basic cords are great for powering the lights on your tree, table lamps, fans, clocks, or anything that requires up to seven amps of power. As your length needs increase, so should the gauge, or thickness/diameter, of your cord! For a 25-foot extension cord, make sure it’s no. 18 gauge, at 50 feet, you should look for no. 16 gauge, and at 100 feet, no. 14 gauge is best. When possible, don’t go for more length than you need! For anything over seven amps, redirect your attention toward…
- Medium Duty Cords
Good for supplying power to smaller appliances (think leaf blowers), laptops, and the like, medium duty cords are a great thing to have laying around the house. Capable of powering things requiring up to 10 amps, the length/gauge breakdown for these cords is as follows: 25-foot cords should be no. 16 gauge, 50-foot cords should be no. 14 gauge, and 100-foot cords should be no. 12 gauge. For larger tools and appliances, look no further than…
- Heavy Duty Cords
Use them with power tools, or anything else up to 15 amps. Proper gauges include: no. 14 gauge for 25-feet of cord, no. 12 gauge for 50 feet, and no. 10 gauge for 100 feet.
Aside from choosing the correct gauge and length for your extension cord needs, make sure you’re practicing safe usage! Never run an extension cord under carpets or rugs, keep them away from high-traffic spaces to minimize tripping, and make sure they’re nowhere near water sources. If you’re experiencing a colder than normal winter in the south or are dealing with snow and ice up north, never ever use an extension cord to power a space heater – just plug it right into an outlet and rejoice in your above-average knowledge of electrical safety.
Without getting into math and physics, that’s all there is to it! Go forth and power your Christmas season with a peaceful mind. And send pictures! We’d love to goggle at your light schemes.