While many consumers look at extension cords as a “one-size-fits-all” product, this couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Most users are quick to simply run into their garage and dig around until they find the first cord they see, or simply run to the hardware store and buy the cheapest cord on the shelf. While this may give you temporary results you could be setting yourself up for a safety hazard or a cord that will cause failure. In this article, we're going to dive deeper into what exactly makes up the extension cord.
We have discussed wire gauge in the past, and we know that a thicker wire gauge is typically used for more heavy duty items while a thinner wire gauge is used for lighter load items. A good comparison is a water pipe. A wider water pipe will allow more liquid to flow through it, while a shorter water pipe will do the opposite. Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the most common gauges out there for consumers:
10 AWG: You won’t typically find this within your household. This cord is a great choice for powering something like an RV, Boat, Electric Vehicle, etc… from a standard outlet. The massive 10 gauge wire secures the highest level of power will reach devices up to 100 ft away.
12 AWG: A great cord for contractors. A hardy, durable extension cord that is designed for larger power tools and other heavy-duty devices. This is another great choice for projects up too 100ft without any noticeable loss of power. A strong choice if you have a minimum amount of power outlets and need the reach.
14 AWG: A heavier household item cord. While they can supply up to 15 amps, they are de-rated to 13 amps at this distant from an outlet up to 50ft – 100ft. This of devices like power equipment, dehumidifiers, and other high power devices.
16 AWG: The cord most consumers are familiar with – the classic orange cord you probably have laying in a garage or basement somewhere.
The Exterior Jacket
The exterior jacket of the cord also plays a large part in decision making. For example, if you are using the cord for outdoor purposes in the cold weather, the exterior jacket could become stiff and harder to move. For situations such as this, there are power cords that feature an “All-Weather” outer jacket.
All-weather cords are designed to be used in damp/wet conditions, stay flexible up to -50 degrees F and are oil resistant.