Electric extension cords are an essential part of modern life, helping us to connect the ever-growing of electrical equipment to the sockets. If your appliance cable is not long enough to reach, or you want to use power tools in the garden, having the right power extension lead is crucial.
Extension leads are available in a huge array of styles and types, and choosing the right type for the job will protect you and your family from the risk of electrocution. It is always tempting to drift towards the cheapest option but, if you want to buy extension cables online, this is not an area where you want to try to save a couple of bucks; safety is the prime concern.
Indoor and Outdoor Extension Cables
Most of us are familiar with the basic extension cable, usually a white or black lead with sockets at one end and a plug at the other. These are usually a few feet long and are designed for indoor use, making them cheap and easily available. Outdoor versions are much more robust, have thicker insulation, are brightly colored for safety, and can handle a much larger electrical load. Never use an interior extension lead outdoors; it is simply not worth the risk.
One of the most important safety aspects to remember with your extension lead is not to overload your socket, because you risk blowing your fuse box or even starting a fire. Interior electrical appliances, such as computers, televisions and small kitchen appliances have a very low wattage, so you can safely use a 4, 6 or even 8-socket extension lead.
For fridges, washing machines and power tools, avoid plugging more than two appliances into a single lead, because they can easily overload the socket. For extra safety, buy an extension lead with an inbuilt surge protection device, which will trip and cut the power if there is a power surge, protecting your delicate electrical equipment.
Reel Extension Cables
For outdoor use, the reel extension cables are a great choice, allowing you to adjust the length of the cable and helping to prevent loops that people can easily trip over. They are usually very sturdy, but you should avoid exceeding the maximum electrical load; many manufacturers recommend a lower maximum wattage if the cable isn’t fully uncoiled, otherwise it can overheat, melting the insulation and potentially shorting or causing an electrical fire.
Most reel extension cords are designed for outdoor use, although you should avoid using them in wet conditions unless specifically stated by the manufacturer. These water-resistant types incorporate protective covers over the plugs, keeping rain and water splashes out, but this does not mean that they can sustain prolonged heavy wetting.
Extension Cord Safety Precautions
In a fix, it is always tempting to use an indoor extension lead outdoors for strimmers, electric chainsaws and lawnmowers, but this is never a good idea. Power tools contain a grounding cable for safety, protecting the user from electrical shock. Indoor leads rarely contain a grounding wire, or it is too narrow to handle any surges, exposing the user to the risk of electric shock. Outdoor extension leads also have much thicker insulation for extra durability and strength, although you should use a cable protector where there is a risk of people tripping over the cord. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and don’t be tempted to cut corners; hospitals are filled with people who thought that it could never happen to them.
Ideally, you should use an outdoor extension cable with a circuit breaker, wither inbuilt or plugged into the socket. If you accidentally sever the cable, this will trip and cut the power, protecting you from harm. This risk is the reason why these extension cables are brightly colored, because they are still visible even if hidden amongst vegetation or rough terrain.
You should check your electric extension leads for wear and tear regularly, ensuring that there are no exposed wires where the insulation has worn away and that the plugs and sockets are securely fitted. Ideally, you should check the entire length of the cable before every single use, but this is not always practical. Every week or two is usually sufficient, and you should always check the cable if it has been in storage for a long time, because mice just love chewing through electrical insulation.
Store your cable away from direct sunlight, because this will attack the insulation and make it brittle. If you do find any problems with the cable, don’t be tempted to patch it with insulation tape. If you are a competent electrician, you can always try shortening the cable but, if you are unsure, buy a new cable rather than take the risk.
Finally, when you are using an extension lead, plug the equipment into the cord, and then the cord into the socket, otherwise you risk electrocution. Never splice two cables together; always buy one that is long enough for the task.
Find Extension Cables Online
Power extension leads are essential around the home and garden, allowing you to operate tools, machines and appliances anywhere you want. Safety is the overriding concern when you buy extension cables online, and knowing the basic safety principles will help you find the perfect electric extension cords for the job.
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