The Best Heavy Duty Extension Cord: Outdoor Power Where You Need It
Since the construction of my new shop, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking around for the best heavy duty extension cord. The reason I need one is because I don’t have electricity out in the shop yet. Until I can get the electrical service installed, I need to run an extension cord from the house out to the shop.
Since I started moving all my tools out to the shop, I began to realize just how much we depend on electricity for all of our projects. Sure, many of my tools are cordless, and that’s great for small projects. But like many of you, I can’t afford to run back and forth charging batteries all day. For this reason, a good extension cord is priceless. Using an extension cord is the fastest and easiest way to bring electrical current to you.
Just like in my case, the use of a power cord is even more crucial when a permanent electrical outlet is out of the question, or simply not possible, or just too expensive. Without an outdoor extension cord with heavy duty features, I would not be able to light up my shop or finish any of the projects I have going.
Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Heavy Duty Extension Cord
How Will You Use the Heavy Duty Extension Cord?
It’s important to ask yourself this question. You need to know how much power you’ll need and how far you need it from an outlet in order to buy the right extension cord. You want to make sure enough current is delivered to the end of your extension cord. Otherwise you run the risk of damaging the motor in your tools.
It can be dangerous to use a cord that’s designed for use inside your home outdoors. An extension cord that can withstand outdoor environments will be equipped the all the features to ensure the safety of both the user and the equipment.
The extension cords made with heavy gauges are more appropriate for use outdoors or to power appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, flat screen television sets, and other tools and appliances that draw more power.
Style And Design
The best heavy duty extension cords come in a 2-prong or 3-prong style. The maximum power rating will be clearly displayed and will include the gauge of the wire, amp rating and the overall length.
Keep in mind that the length of the cord will affect the way it carries electrical current to distant locations. Voltage drop is a real phenomenon and should not be ignored.
Most of the best and and widely recognized heavy duty extension cords are industry supported. Pay close attention to see if your extension cord comes with the correct certification from independent testing organizations. The safety decal attached to any extension cord means it has been tested and found to meet established electrical standards.
Certifications to look for are Intertek (ETL), which might also come under the name Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL); Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). These are the top third party testing organizations for products sold in North America.
User Reviews and Opinions
With the relatively new idea of online commerce comes a wealth of information. Seeking out the most reliable power extension cord reviews and actual user reviews before making your final purchasing decision can always prove to be helpful.
The Best Heavy Duty Extension Cord
I have found that the US Wire’s 74050 heavy duty extension cord is the best, and is the extension cord I chose to buy for temporarily delivering power to my shop. Even though this heavy duty extension cord sells for almost half the price of in-store brands, this extension cord is more durable and better quality than any other heavy duty extension cord available.
US Wire 74050 12/3 50-Foot SJTW Yellow Heavy Duty Lighted Plug Extension Cord
Review Of The Best Heavy Duty Extension Cord
Though the outer jacket is similar to the more expensive Voltec’s, and the receptacle has reasonably smooth and snug action. Even thought the strain relief neck is about half the size of the Voltec’s, which makes it more likely to bend and stress near the outlet, the US Wire is at least as good, or better, than most other cords you’ll find in your local hardware or big box store.
Since yard equipment often has a protective sleeve around its plug, and if that will be your main use for the extension cord, then the US Wire cord is going to work much better for you. If you’re going to buy just one cord, we think 50 feet is the most versatile length, but this cord is available in 25-foot and 100-foot lengths as well. I purchased two of these cords. A 50 foot and a 100 foot extension cord.
Voltec 12/3 Outdoor Heavy Duty Extension Cord with E-Zee Lock and Lighted End
Review Of The Voltec Outdoor Heavy Duty Extension Cord
A more expensive option than the US Cable and Wire, the Voltec 50-ft Yellow Outdoor Extension Cord has a durability that brings it to a very close second. Its outer covering is resistant to cuts and abrasions compared to thinner jackets found on less expensive heavy duty extension cords.
An excellent feature of this cord is the receptacle that receives your other power cord and the neck between the connector and cord, which is typically the two weak points on most other cords. According to users reviews, plugging a cord into the end of the Voltec is smooth and snug when seated.
The Voltec extension cord has almost two inches of neck protection, so it won’t slowly separate as time goes by. In addition to the 50 foot cord, the Voltec is available in 25-foot and 100-foot lengths.
Heavy Duty Extension Cord Tips
Never use an extension cord that is designed for indoor use, outdoors. Not only will you be exposing yourself to electrical shock, your device might also be permanently damaged.
Try to purchase a heavy duty extension cord with far more Amps than you need. The length of the cord plays a significant role in how the electrical current travel and at what percentage. Always buy an electrical extension cord that can carry more power than you presently need.
Be careful when using it around wet areas or heavy moisture. It is true that water and electricity do not mix well, so always err on the side of caution if in doubt.
Always be mindful of extension cord placement. If you’re using the cord to power tools like your lawn mower or chain saw, make sure the length is clearly out of the way. Accidentally cutting the wires to your extension cord might can be deadly.
Prevent from joining multiple extension cords together. I know people do it often, but it is not the safest way to carry electric current from one area of your home to another. A popular name for this type of set up is called a daisy chain. Better to buy the right length than to utilize several cords to create a longer one. But sometimes it’s just not avoidable. In these cases, take caution.
Extension cord use should be temporary. The connections must be instantly removed once you’re done using it, this is even more important if you have little kids in your household.
If using your heavy duty extension cord outside in cold weather, consider using one with a rubber coating instead of hard plastic. The plastic can crack and will be much less flexible when it’s cold.
Do not use an extension cord with exposed wires. Once part of the internal wires is exposed that means the insulation will also be negatively impacted during use. This is not to mention the increased risk of shock.
Part of using heavy duty extension cords the right way is to always use extreme caution. Even if you’re using the best heavy duty extension cord money can buy, you still must use care and common sense.
Electric extension cords can be used safely provided you follow these guidelines as well as those included with the product.
How To Care For Your Heavy Duty Extension Cord
Store extension cords without kinks or knots. Do not wrap extension cords around your arm. Make a habit of using the over-under style, or even the daisy-chain technique, to keep the extension cord’s jacketing and wires from twisting and kinking. FineHomebuilding has a nice video that explains the advantages.
Extension cords are not for permanent use. While it’s understandable to need a cord from time to time, or even for a few days, you shouldn’t use an extension cord for any installation that’s going to be indefinite. For permanent applications, you should have a real outlet installed by a qualified electrician.
Don’t run extension cords under rugs or furniture. By running an extension cord underneath, behind, or through something you are at a much higher risk of physical damage and even fire. As heat builds up, protective coatings melt, and you’re left with hot wires and spark potential under something flammable.
Don’t connect multiple outlets to extension cords. Six or more outlets on the end of an extension cord make it much easier to overload. This can lead to excessive heat build up and eventually fire. If you do need a longer cord, look for a surge protector with a built-in cord of that length. If you own your own home, consider having an electrician add an outlet where you need it.
“Moisture-resistant” Does not mean weatherproof or waterproof. Connections are rarely waterproof and submerging them is a good way to cause a short. If you’re using the extension cord outside, you may want to get weatherproof connection boxes to reduce the likelihood of water infiltration.
Difference Between A Power Strip And An Extension Cord
Power strips come with multiple outlets to connect several devices. An extension cord has one, two, or at the most three outlets.
Power strips tend to be used to extend the number of AC outlets available in a room or office. An extension cord is usually used to carry power to further distances within your home or outside.
A power strip can be considered the ideal unit to split just one electrical outlet into several.. The best power strip might also come with surge protection features.
Extension cords are capable of carrying that single electrical outlet far so you can plug in any equipment that requires electricity.
Heavy Duty Extension Cord Buying Guide