Rounded extension cords have dominated the electric cable industry for ages; however, things are gradually changing. Scientific innovations continue to meet the need for more efficient and durable extension cords by availing fantastic rounded extension cords alternatives.
The flat extension cord is one such innovation, featuring a low profile attributed to its parallel construction. A flat cord’s low profile makes it more flexible and less likely to cause tripping injuries. Flat extension cables also feature enhanced current-carrying capacity, are sturdier, and are easier to repair. Despite their advantages, they require proper handling to ensure user safety, as shown below.
Do Buy Extension Cords With Enhanced Safety Features
A national survey presented as part of the national electrical safety month campaign yielded that extension cords cause approximately 3300 home fires annually. While consumers are responsible for using extension cords appropriately, ensuring home safety, manufacturers also have a role to play in electric safety. Therefore, consider purchasing extensions with independent lab certifications for meeting safety standards.
The UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is the USA’s principal third-party electric safety certification agency. Any extension cord bearing the “UL Listed” logo meets or exceeds the national standard for electrical safety. Besides UL, an ETL certification by Intertek Labs or CSA certification will also suffice.
Besides safety certifications, consider purchasing a flat extension cord with integrated safety features, like a three-prong plug cord for shock protection. Another fantastic electrocution prevention feature is an integrated ground-fault current interrupter (CGFI). Finally, although flat electric extensions are less susceptible to cracks, check for damages before each use as a safety precaution.
Do Buy The Appropriate Flat Extension For Your Needs
Inappropriate extension cord use is the leading cause of extension cord-related home fires. Therefore, learning the ideal extension cord for different applications protects you from electric hazards and associated financial losses.
The vital considerations when evaluating an extension cord’s capacity are its wire gauge and maximum amperage. An electric cable’s gauge refers to its cross-sectional size, denoted as a figure between 0000 and 40; a lower gauge figure means better electrical conductivity. Domestic application extension cables have a wire gauge ranging from 10-16.
On the other hand, amperage denotes an electric cable’s current carrying capacity or the electric flow magnitude required to power an appliance. Extension cables have maximum amperage ranging from 10 amps-20 amps.
Note that flat extension cables fall into three broad function-related categories; occasional use, frequent use, and rugged use. Occasional use extensions are low-power 16-gauge cords ideal for simple indoor applications, while frequent use extension cords are slightly more powerful 14-gauge devices for continuous indoor use. Both flat extension cord categories above have maximum amperage below 15 amps, although the former has a lower maximum amperage.
Rugged use extension cords are powerful 10-gauge and 12-gauge extension cords with a 15amps-20amps extension range. They also feature an outdoor rating and can power high amperage tools like generators and circular saws. Therefore, choosing the appropriate flat extension for your needs guarantees you safety and unparalleled performance.
Do Use Your Flat Extension In The Appropriate Environment
Flat extensions have varying indoor and outdoor ratings, depending on their intended use. While indoor-rated extension cords may feature high-quality construction, they cannot withstand outdoor elements like moisture and UV rays. Consequently, they may degrade and cause horrendous accidents if used outdoors.
Therefore, look for the following factors when shopping for an outdoor-rated extension cord. First, consider outdoor extension cords with an IP rating that facilitates water, abrasion, and flame resistance. The extension cord should also feature heavy-duty construction that can withstand UV exposure degradation. Outdoor-rated rubber, vinyl, and plastic materials make fantastic covers for outdoor extension cords.
Flat outdoor extension cords also feature an extra-long cable (50ft-100ft) for maximum flexibility. They also feature a three-prong plug that facilitates grounding as an anti-electrocution protection mechanism. While outdoor-rated extension cords function indoors too, indoor-rated ones are exclusively for designated indoor use.
Don’t Overload Your Extension Cord
A flat extension overload occurs after overexerting the cord beyond its maximum amperage, causing it to overheat or burst into flames. Besides being a safety hazard, electric extension overloading also causes irreparable losses to the cord and plugged-in devices, costing you hefty financial loss.
The two primary overloading causes are plugging multiple appliances and tools into one extension cord or forming an extension cord chain to increase coverage. Thankfully, you can avoid overloading by confirming your gadgets’ amperage before plugging it into an extension. Second, buy long flat extension cables to eliminate the need to form “daisy chains.”
Don’t Plug Appliances That Are Incompatible With Extension Cords
Although extension cords have versatile uses, there are appliances you should never plug into an extension cord. Such appliances feature unique power-drawing capabilities and function safely when plugged into a dedicated power outlet.
Therefore, avoid plugging appliances that cycle on and off, like fridges, portable heaters, and portable air conditioners, into a flat extension. The devices draw too much power when they begin a cycle, potentially causing an overload. Second, avoid curling irons and other hair-styling appliances as they require plugging into a GFCI outlet. Third, avoid plugging dehumidifiers into an extension cord as high humidity is a potential electrical hazard.
Extension cords are pretty handy when there aren’t enough power cables to meet your electricity supply capacity. So, follow the simple safety guide above to make the best of your extension cord.