You have a lot of electrically powered items as a homeowner. You have kitchen appliances, televisions, and most likely a game console or two. No matter how many power outlets you have in your home, you probably want more.
This is especially aggravating if you live in an older home with few outlets. Even if you have plenty of outlets, there isn’t always one where you need it. Instead, your outlet could be hidden behind a couch, beneath a table, or around the corner. In certain instances, a sturdy extension cord is required.
However, extension cords have their own set of challenges. One that is long enough to reach from the outlet to your device is required. You’ll need one with enough amperage, and that’s fire safe. You also require one with a functional design and form factor. For example, if you’re trying to fit a cord beneath a sofa, a standard-sized plug may not fit. In such a situation, you’ll want a flat, low-profile cord that won’t interfere with your furniture.
This article will guide you on everything you need about flat extension cords.
Factors To Consider When Purchasing a Flat Extension Cord
Buy a Longer Cord Than You Need
When measuring for a flat extension cord, it’s easy to underestimate how long you’ll require. Assume you measure in a straight line from your outlet to your gadget. You probably don’t want your cord to run in a straight line. You want it to dangle loosely down the floor rather than being pulled taut when you move your device. There are several causes for this. The first is practicality.
The other factor is even more important: safety. You may have to daisy-chain extension cords if your cord is too short. This can be dangerous as each additional cable increases resistance, causing the voltage at the line’s end to decline. Not only that, but the increased resistance generates heat, posing a substantial fire risk.
To avoid these complications, get a longer cord than you require. In that manner, it will always reach as far as you require. Not only that, but you’ll have a longer chord with additional options if you need to repurpose it.
Think About Your Amperage
Another issue to consider is if your cord provides adequate power, to begin with. This is especially troublesome with flat wires, as thinner cords can transmit less power. A standard residential socket delivers 15 amps of power. If you have a 20-amp breaker and strong gauge wiring, you can run up to 20 amps.
However, most electronics do not consume the whole 15 amps. If they did, you’d only be able to run one device per circuit breaker! Most PCs, for example, consume less than four amps. Power tools, space heaters, and other high-powered devices are the only ones that draw 15 amps.
Even so, ensure your extension cords are powerful enough for the job. Significantly, you’ll need a stronger cord if you want to use power tools or other high-powered equipment.
Avoid Permanent Usage
Even the most recent cords are not UL-rated for continuous use. There’s no reason you should ever have to do this if you own your own home. Use an extension cord only when necessary. However, having outlets installed where you need them in the long term makes sense. This eliminates the need for an extension cord and reduces the fire risk. Installing new outlets is a no-brainer unless you want your house to burn down.
However, putting an outlet in every position is not always feasible. Your inside wall may be made of brick. You may be renting and are not permitted to install your outlets. In some circumstances, you may have no alternative but to use an extension cord over time—another incentive to go with a longer cord than you need.
A taut cord can rub against furniture and walls, causing the insulation to wear away. Eventually, exposed wires result, posing a major safety danger.
Types of Flat Extension Cords
The lengths of indoor flat extension cords range from 3′ to 15′ and come in grounded and non-grounded types. Small appliances like portable fans, table lamps, alarm clocks, and floor lights are intended to be used with low-wattage 16-gauge cords. Higher-wattage lighting and appliances can be used with indoor 14-gauge wiring. No matter the gauge, indoor cords are only meant to be used indoors and are not weatherproof.
Outdoor extension cords are weather-resistant and UL-approved, but you can also use them indoors. They come in general-purpose and all-weather varieties. All-weather cables are designed to remain flexible in sub-zero temperatures, making them the perfect solution for extreme cold. They also may have an illuminated connection for night-time visibility.
Contractor-grade extension cables are designed for heavy-duty job site use. They can withstand high cold and heat and have exceptional abrasion resistance and flexibility. Also, these extension cords include high-visibility jackets and are more resistant to oil and chemicals. So, they are ideal for usage in the shop or garage.
These flat extension cords can be used for an extended time if properly maintained. Unplug extension cords while not in use. Pull the plug from the outlet rather than the cord when removing it. Most individuals do this incorrectly without recognizing it, leaving the cords more vulnerable to harm.
Additionally, keep any electrical cables inside and out of reach of youngsters and pets. Some pets chew on wires, causing damage that may not be immediately apparent. If an extension cord snaps, throw it away as quickly as possible. Don’t keep using a faulty extension cord because it can be dangerous.
If you’re unsure whether some extension cords need to be replaced, have a professional electrician inspect them. They will not only provide you with advice, but they will also repair any problems with your electrical system.