Choosing the Right Heavy Duty Extension Cord
For Outdoor Use
There are many reasons to work outdoors with electric-powered tools. You could be doing a little home repair or possibly some yard work. But if you get far enough away from the outlet and your electric device is not powered by a battery, you are going to need to choose a safe outdoor electric extension cord. Some of the more popular devices that are used with vinyl outdoor extension cords are lawn mowers, electric saws, table saws, air compressors, or even a tool shop vacuum (or shop vac). At first, choosing the right vinyl outdoor extension cord may seem like a simple purchase to make, but there are some things you want to keep in mind when shopping for the best extension cord for your needs. We will cover why you should check the amp rating on your outdoor extension cords, as well as their resistance to weather and plug size.
Check the Amp Rating
How Much Power Will You Use?
One of the first things you should consider when buying a new vinyl outdoor extension cord is to make sure it can handle the amount of electricity your device will need. It would be a mistake to buy an extension cord that is not rated for the amps you need. If you do that, you are likely to burn up the motor in your equipment over time and ruin your device. As the gauge of an extension cord gets smaller, the cord itself gets bigger. So a 16-gauge cord is smaller than 12-gauge. Larger cords (with smaller gauge numbers) can take more power, also called amps.
Choose a safe vinyl outdoor extension cord that can deliver enough electric power over a long distance. A good range is about 13 amps over 100 feet. That way, you will have confidence that it is safe to run popular 12 amp devices like leaf blowers that are connected to your vinyl outdoor extension cord. It may even be possible to operate two or more electric devices at once, but this is usually not recommended. If you always remember to check the amp rating on a cord before you buy, you will not end up regretting your purchase.
On a related note, make sure you buy a single vinyl outdoor extension cord that is long enough for your needs. It is not a good idea to run extension cords in series, as the extra distance creates resistance and decreases the electric current that the cords will successfully carry and deliver to your devices.
Resistance to Weather
Will Your Outdoor Extension Cord Survive the Cold?
It is important to choose a vinyl outdoor extension cord that will remain pliable even in cold weather. This is true even if you plan to store your extension cords in the garage or inside the house. Believe it or not, some vinyl outdoor extension cords are rated for temperatures much more extreme than you might think possible, with some brands able to withstand colds of less than -58 degrees below zero, all the way up to 140 degrees F. If you ever find yourself doing yard work at those temperatures, maybe it’s time to think about moving.
While you may never have to operate machinery or devices with your extension cord in subzero freezing weather, it does not hurt to have a cord that can easily operate in such conditions. The very best vinyl outdoor extension cords can be folded and handled easily in extremely cold temperatures without breaking.
Size of the Plugs
Are Your Devices Compatible With Your Outdoor Extension Cord?
Some vinyl outdoor extension cords have different size plugs, which can become a burden for you when trying to connect your electric devices. If a cord’s plug is oversized, it will not fit comfortably in all sockets, so be mindful of how your extension cords, devices, and wall sockets all connect. A loose fit has been known to be the cause of fires through overheating of the wires. Whenever possible, try to avoid purchasing any vinyl outdoor extension cord that is a potential fire hazard.
Those three concerns (plug size, weather resistance, and amp rating) should help you to choose the best vinyl outdoor extension cord for use around your home. However, there are always other things to keep in mind when shopping. For extension cords, you may also want to consider just how easy it is to carry it around and recoil it. Another consideration might just be what color vinyl outdoor extension cord you want to purchase. Orange is always a popular choice, but if you want yellow or green, those are certainly available too. But above all, make sure that you choose an extension cord that dependable, sturdy, and safe. The right outdoor vinyl extension cord should be so rugged as to stand up to many years of repeated use and abuse.