These tips will help you understand the differences between different electrical cords and learn how to use them safely.
Use Extension Cords Safely
Exercise caution when using an extension cord. If your power tool draws more current than your cord can handle, you could start a fire. Before using your power cord, consider the following:
- Match your cord to the work environment, whether indoor or outdoor. Outdoor-rated cords have durable covers to protect from weather and damage. You can use an outdoor-rated extension cord inside; however, using indoor power cords outside could lead to overheating or exposure to moisture.
- Make sure the number of prongs (two or three) fit the outlet you'll be using. Some specialty plugs are available, such as extension cords for receptacles on RVs. Check the tool you'll be using before you go shopping to avoid extra trips.
- Get a cord that meets the amperage requirements of the tool you're using. Read the owner’s manual for assistance.
- Keep the cord’s gauge in mind for maximum output. The lower the gauge number, the more power the cord delivers.
- Remember that more isn't better with cord length. The longer the cord, the less power is delivered to the item you're powering. Keep both gauge and length in mind when selecting a power cord.
- Store your cords indoors when you're done using them. Exposure to the elements can deteriorate your cord.
- Never attempt to modify your extension cord by removing a grounding pin or adjusting plug blades. These safety features prevent electric shock, and tampering with them could put you at risk.
- Unplug your cords when you're not using them. They still conduct electricity, so unplugging them will keep you safer and save energy.