The Best Extension Cords of 2023

Extension cords are helpful, but they can also be dangerous if they overheat. Our top picks aim to help shoppers find safe, high-quality replacements.

By Andréana Lefton and Tiffany Lewis and Mark Wolfe | Updated Oct 28, 2022 12:27 PM

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The Best Extension Cord Option

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

A length of insulated wire with a plug at one end and a socket at the other, an extension cord comes in handy to connect an appliance, a power tool, or another electrical device to a power source beyond the reach of the item’s own cord. Yet helpful as they are, extension cords can be dangerous.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, about 3,300 home fires are started annually by extension cords, killing or injuring hundreds of people each year. These fires occur because of overheated wires, which happens when too much electrical current passes through wires that are inadequate for the job.

To help keep consumers safe, this guide showcases extension cords that we selected and tested based on specific shopping and performance criteria. We also offer several factors shoppers will want to consider before buying a new extension cord for their indoor or outdoor electrical needs.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Iron Forge Tools 100-Foot Outdoor Extension Cord
  2. RUNNER-UP: US Wire and Cable 50-Foot Lighted Extension Cord
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GE 6-Foot 3-Outlet Polarized Extension Cord
  4. BEST STANDARD INDOOR: Firmerst Low-Profile Flat Plug Extension Cord
  5. BEST SMART: GHome Smart Power Strip
  6. BEST FOR SAFETY: Yellow Jacket 2737 12/3 Locking Extension Cord
  7. BEST FOR STYLE: Slimline Flat Plug Conductor Extension Cord
  8. BEST FOR GENERATORS: Champion Power Equipment Generator Extension Cord
  9. BEST FOR OUTDOORS: UltraPro 25-Foot Extension Cord, 3-Outlet Power Strip
  10. BEST ALL-WEATHER: US Wire and Cable 100-Foot SJTW General Purpose Cord
The Best Extension Cord Option

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

How We Tested the Best Extension Cords 

We spent 2 days (12 hours total) testing each of the extension cords listed to provide authoritative recommendations based on electrical performance, ease of use, and durability.

We started by measuring the voltage of each extension cord with a multimeter to ensure that they all deliver adequate power without excessive voltage drop. With the multimeter set to test AC voltage, we probed the wall outlet to get our baseline (121.2 volts). We then plugged each extension cord into that outlet and probed the cords’ sockets, measuring the voltage at the point of delivery. For multisocket extension cords, we tested each socket. All of our recommendations delivered at least 118 volts.

To test for ease of use, we plugged in the cords and used them to power as many tools and appliances as they were designed for. We noted special features, like lighted ends and multiple outlets. We also noted limitations, like excess or shortness of length, bulkiness, or limited plug compatibility. This information guided our decisions for use recommendations.

For any outdoor or indoor/outdoor extension cord, we tested durability by laying the cords across a concrete driveway and driving a pickup truck over them 10 times, inspecting the cord jackets afterward for signs of abrasion. To test for cold-weather operation, we placed the coiled cords in a deep freezer at -5 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours, then immediately attempted to uncoil them, rating each one according to its cold-temperature flexibility.

Helpful Terminology

Further down, we’ve outlined what to consider before buying extension cords (see “Jacket Strength”), but the following definitions are good to know before reading reviews of our Top Picks. These letters are used to define the strength, material, and purpose of extension cord jackets, and they are often printed directly on the product:

  • – flexible cord designed for general use
  • – rated for outdoor use
  • – has standard 300-volt insulation (if this letter isn’t displayed, the cord has 600-volt insulation and is meant for heavier use)
  • – parallel wire construction, used in air conditioner cords and household extension cords
  • – made from vinyl thermoplastic
  • – made from thermoplastic elastomer rubber
  • O – oil-resistant

Our Top Picks

Our top picks were chosen based on electrical performance, ease of use, and durability. Here’s a look at how each one performed, and why we consider them to be some of the best extension cords on the market.

Best Overall

The Best Extension Cord Option: Iron Forge Tools 100-Foot Lighted Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

This all-purpose extension cord from Iron Forge Tools, designed for both indoor and outdoor use, features a flexible, yellow vinyl jacket that’s water-resistant and protects against moisture, abrasion, and sunlight. The 12-gauge wire has a power rating of 15 amps, 125 volts, and 1,875 watts, and the cord is Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed for safety.

The 100-foot extension cord offers a light socket illuminated by LED bulbs that helpfully indicate when the power is on. The plug boasts reinforced blades to prevent bending or breaking. This extension cord can handle most medium- to heavy-duty applications, from running a lawn mower to powering Christmas lights. Users can choose the best length for the job from among additional sizes, from 3 to 200 feet.

In our tests, the Iron Forge Tools lighted extension cord offered the best combination of performance and price for general indoor and outdoor use. This single-outlet SJTW-designated cord delivered good operational performance, easily powering our portable table saw. The bright yellow cord and lighted sockets improved visibility in the work area, adding a helpful safety element. The jacket held up well to abrasion by car tires on the driveway, but the cord does stiffen up quite a bit in freezing conditions. For the price, it would be hard to find a better 12/3 extension cord.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 100 feet
  • Type: 12-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 15

Pros

  • 12-gauge wire delivers up to 15 amps of electrical current
  • Grounded plug and socket compatible with all corded hand tools
  • Lighted socket end lets user know when the cord is live
  • Competitive price for a heavy-duty 100-foot extension cord compared to other models

Cons

  • Cord stiffens in freezing conditions, making it difficult to coil

Get the Iron Forge Tools extension cord at Amazon or Iron Forge Tools.

Runner-up

The Best Extension Cord Option: US Wire and Cable 50-Foot Lighted Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

This bright yellow 50-foot extension cord (25-foot and 100-foot versions are also available) stands out in dark conditions outside and among tools in a garage or workshop to help prevent tripping and other accidents. It includes an SJTW vinyl outer jacket that won’t split or crack in colder temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit. The 12-gauge wire features 15 amps, 125 volts, and 1,875 watts of power, as well as a lighted female plug that indicates when the cord is in use.

The US Wire and Cable lighted extension cord performed nearly identically to our Best Overall pick, with the only difference being the shorter 50-foot length. Measured voltage drop was slightly reduced because of the shorter cord length, but for practical purposes, this cord simply worked well. It powered our portable table saw without issue, and the three-hole plug is compatible with any corded electric hand tool. After a night in the deep freezer, this cord had stiffened similarly to our Best Overall pick, but the price is slightly higher on a per-foot basis. This option would be a good choice for DIYers with less distance to cover.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 50 feet
  • Type: 12-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 15

Pros

  • Lighted plug lets user know when extension cord is electrified
  • SJTW designated for hard service in hot or cold conditions
  • 12-gauge wire delivers up to 15 amps of electrical current
  • 50-foot cord experiences less voltage drop than longer cords

Cons

  • Becomes stiff and difficult to coil and uncoil in subfreezing temperatures

Get the US Wire and Cable 50-foot extension cord at Amazon, Tools 4 Flooring, or Walmart.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Extension Cord Option: GE 6-Foot 3-Outlet Polarized Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

No little fingers or slim objects will get stuck inside any of the receptacles of this three-outlet indoor extension cord from GE. It boasts twist-to-close safety outlet covers that help prevent injuries. The 16-gauge cable also boasts power ratings of 13 amps, 125 volts, and 1,625 watts and is UL certified.

Users can add three outlets up to 6 feet from the nearest plug with this inexpensive extension cord, and the two-prong plug features strain relief to reduce fraying. The cord is ideal for home offices, workshops, or garages. In addition to the 6-foot length, choose from white, brown, and black in 9-, 12-, and 15-foot lengths.

We tested the GE polarized extension cord in several indoor scenarios. We loaded all three sockets with plugs from lamps, chargers, a glue gun, and strings of holiday lights. Everything worked as expected, without causing the extension cord to heat up. We especially appreciated the rotary-socket locks that allowed us to close off unused sockets when only one or two were needed. This relatively short extension cord provided adequate reach without increasing clutter or creating a trip hazard. It makes an ideal choice for office, household, and crafting where two-prong plugs are common.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 6 feet
  • Type: 16-gauge diameter with 2 wires
  • Amps: 13

Pros

  • Three 2-prong sockets efficiently power multiple tools or small appliances
  • Shorter cord length (6 feet) minimizes trip hazards and clutter
  • Patented rotary-socket safety covers reduce the risk of shock

Cons

  • Not compatible with 3-prong power cords; may limit usage options
  • Some shoppers say the cord stopped working shortly after first use

Get the GE extension cord at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.

Best Standard Indoor

The Best Extension Cord Option: Firmerst Low-Profile Flat Plug Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

Firmerst’s 1-foot extension cord has a 14 AWG gauge rating and a power capacity of 15 amps, 125 volts, and 1,875 watts. The cord is UL certified and temperature-resistant up to 167 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, the flat plug design is well suited for the tight spaces between outlets and furniture, bookshelves, and desks.

The thick wires are encased in heavy-duty plastic that is sturdy but flexible. The wires can handle more amperage and wattage—with less chance of overheating compared to similar products with thinner 16 or 18 AWG wires. Available in white or black in a convenient three-pack.

The Firmerst low-profile extension cord we tested was just 12-inches long, a short length ideal for use as an adapter, where the low-profile plug may improve the functionality of a small space. It reduced plug profiles from a standard depth of about 3 inches to .75 inch, and worked with three-prong plugs. Because the cord is so short and made of thick 14 gauge wire, it even worked well with high amperage tools like our portable table saw. This extension cord could be helpful for organizing the house, garage, or workshop.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 1 foot
  • Type: 14-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 15

Pros

  • Flat plug profile saves space when plugged into a standard wall outlet
  • Specialized plug shape allows use of both top and bottom wall outlet sockets
  • Improves the use of wall outlets that are located behind furniture

Cons

  • The plug angle may not be convenient for all users
  • Plugs are not sized for efficient use with most power strips

Get the Firmerst extension cord at Amazon or Walmart.

Best Smart

The Best Extension Cord Option: GHome Smart Power Strip
Image: Amazon.com

The GHome Smart Power Strip offers three 3-prong electrical sockets and three USB ports all in one surge-protected unit. The power strip features a 4-foot power cord, onboard on/off switch, and Wi-Fi connectivity for remote control via a free mobile app or voice command through Amazon Alexa or Google Home. It has a power rating of 120 volts, 10 amps, 1,200 watts. The total USB output current is 3.1 amps.

With Wi-Fi connectivity, each of the socket outlets is individually controllable from anywhere. Name the outlets according to their function, use the app or voice control to turn them on or off individually, or set personalized schedules so they turn on and off automatically.

We used the GHome smart power strip to charge two phones and a watch on the USB ports while powering three small lamps with the outlets. Basic operation without Wi-Fi worked just fine. Next, we downloaded the mobile app and connected to our Alexa. Setting up the smart features took about 20 minutes. Using them required a strong Wi-Fi connection at all times. Navigating the app was a fairly intuitive process, and everything worked well along the way. Shoppers who are looking for more connectivity and convenience will enjoy this smart power strip.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 4 feet
  • Type: 16-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 10

Pros

  • Three 3-prong sockets, 3 USB ports, and baseplate on/off switch
  • Built-in surge protector that prevents damage to sensitive electronic devices
  • Controllable via mobile app or voice command with Alexa pairing
  • 4-foot-long 3-prong power cable made from high-quality, fire-resistant materials

Cons

  • Some users may consider this cord to be too short
  • Its 3 USB ports are remotely controlled altogether, not individually

Get the GHome Smart extension cord at Amazon.

Best for Safety

The Best Extension Cord Option: Yellow Jacket 2737 12/3 Locking Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

The Yellow Jacket locking 12/3 extension cord is power rated for 15 amps, 125 volts, and 1,875 watts. It includes multiple features that improve work-site safety. The weather-resistant bright yellow PVC jacket improves visibility to reduce a tripping hazard. The cord is SJTW designated for hard use in tough environments. It is treated with a special compound to remain flexible, even in cold weather.

The specially designed locking plugs ensure that tools remain plugged in, meaning less time messing around with the cord and more productive time. Heavy-duty strain relief built into the plug connections reduce wear and tear and extend cord life. This cord meets OSHA specifications for safe use on commercial projects.

In our tests, the Yellow Jacket locking extension cord delivered outstanding performance. We used it to power a portable table saw for 4 hours with no trouble. In order to text the locking connections, we attached a corded electric leaf blower. The connections held securely through the project. This cord also turned in the best cold temperature performance, as it remained significantly more flexible than any of the other “all-season” outdoor extension cords we tested. In our opinion, the Yellow Jacket could have been an alternate choice for Best Overall if not for the elevated, but justifiable, price point.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 50 feet
  • Type: 12-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 15

Pros

  • High-visibility yellow jacket is easy to see, minimizing trip hazard
  • Locking plugs keep tools securely plugged into the cord socket
  • Heavy-duty strain relief in plug and socket for longer cord life
  • SJTW designated for hard service plus weather and wear resistance

Cons

  • Premium price point for a commercial-grade extension cord compared to other models

Get the Yellow Jacket extension cord at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best for Style

The Best Extension Cord Option: Slimline Flat Plug Conductor Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

The Slimline flat plug extension cord offers multiple solutions for indoor power needs without disrupting the room’s aesthetic. The space-saving design makes it easier to access outlets behind furniture and deliver electricity where needed. It comes in a variety of colors to better blend with the room’s aesthetic. The cord has a power rating of 120 volts, 13 amps, and 1,560 watts.

This low-profile indoor extension cord lays flat against the wall and only rises .5 inch above the wall surface. The angled plug design does not block the second socket in the outlet. This multioutlet extension cord offers three grounded two-prong outlets with twist-to-close safety covers for any outlets not in use. It is available in white, beige, or black and in lengths of 3, 7, 8, or 13 feet.

We tested the Slimline flat plug extension cord with strings of incandescent holiday lights. After 8 hours, everything was still lit and the extension cord had not become heated. The flat plug, which measured exactly the same thickness as our baseboard trim, allowed us to access a wall outlet behind a bookshelf and replace the shelf against the wall. Had we needed one, a second plug would have easily fit into the second socket on the wall outlet, thanks to the offset design of the plug. With its thin profile and available color options, this cord makes a smart choice that works with any style.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 3 feet
  • Type: 16-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 13 amps

Pros

  • Can be used in hard-to-reach outlets that are hidden behind furniture
  • Three 2-prong outlets allow for multiple small-appliance and electronics use
  • Twist-to-close safety covers prevent accidental shocks or any electrical accidents
  • Available in white, beige, or black to blend with room’s decor

Cons

  • Unlike other models, this one is not compatible with 3-prong plugs

Get the Slimline extension cord at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Toolup.

Best for Generators

The Best Extension Cord Option: Champion Power Equipment Generator Extension Cord
Photo: amazon.com

This 25-foot extension cord from Champion Power Equipment boasts 30 amps, 125 volts, and 3,750 watts of power. It extends a single 30-amp locking outlet 25 feet away from the generator and provides three 15-amp outlets at a safe distance from the generator exhaust.

The service-grade extension cord is abrasion- and weather-resistant and comes with dust covers to keep the outlets clean and clear when not in use. It is also cold- and heat-resistant with a 10-gauge wire that remains flexible in extreme temperatures.

The Champion Power Equipment Generator Extension Cord proved to be a very useful adapter in our tests. By converting the 30 amp generator outlet into three additional three-prong 15 amp outlets, it boosted available outlets from four to seven, increasing fuel efficiency. The cord maintained good flexibility after 24 hours in the deep freezer, and the jacket showed no signs of abrasion after driving over it a half dozen times. Those who rely on generator power to run two- and three-prong household electrical tools and appliances would do well to consider this cord.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 25 feet
  • Type: 10-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 30

Pros

  • Converts a 30-amp generator outlet into three 15-amp 3-prong outlets
  • SJTW rated for outdoor use; thermoplastic jacket remains flexible in the cold
  • 25-foot cord allows safe distance from generator exhaust or noise

Cons

  • Will not work with all generators; only compatible with L5-30R generator receptacles

Get the Champion Power Equipment extension cord at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Tractor Supply Co.

Best for Outdoors

The Best Extension Cord Option: UltraPro 25-Foot Extension Cord, 3-Outlet Power Strip
Photo: amazon.com

This UL-listed extension cord from UltraPro includes three power outlets and a host of features to meet power-extending needs for outdoor spaces. It has a power capacity of 13 amps, 125 volts, and 1,625 watts that’s especially suitable for lighting. The cord features molded plugs and is double insulated for enhanced durability, longevity, and safety.

This 25-foot extension cord is also available in a two-pack. Users can choose between additional lengths from 9 to 100 feet and five colors—some dark for easy concealment and some bright for high visibility and safety.

The UltraPro extension cord held up quite well in our driveway abrasion test and stayed flexible after 24 hours in the freezer. We really liked the hang-loop feature, which made it easy to set up electrical access in convenient elevated locations without adding strain on the plug and socket connections. This cord would be a great choice for setting up holiday lights or running temporary power for party lights and music.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 25 feet
  • Type: 16-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 13

Pros

  • PVC jacket stands up to harsh weather and remains pliable
  • Three 3-prong outlets with molded hang loop increase cord functionality
  • Good for medium-duty uses, like outdoor lighting; available in various colors

Cons

  • Not ideal for tools that have a higher amp draw

Get the UltraPro extension cord at Amazon, Jasco Products (for a two-pack), or Walmart.

Best All-Weather

The Best Extension Cord Option: US Wire and Cable 100-Foot SJTW General Purpose Cord
Photo: amazon.com

This versatile 100-foot outdoor extension cord from US Wire and Cable features an insulating jacket made of 100 percent thermoplastic rubber. The material compound stands up to extreme temperatures between 221 degrees Fahrenheit and -94 degrees Fahrenheit. The jacket is oil-resistant and more durable in harsh environments compared to standard PVC.

This 12-gauge extension cord has a 15-amp power capacity designed for medium- to heavy-duty outdoor use, including power tools, snow blowers, and generators. The bright orange color pairs with the lighted plug ends for safety and visibility in darker conditions.

The US Wire and Cable SJTW extension cord performed exceptionally well in all phases of testing. It passed our driveway abrasion test almost completely unscathed. It stiffened only slightly in the deep freezer test. And the long 12/3 cord delivered adequate current to power our portable table saw for several hours. Beyond the tough, flexible, bright orange jacket, it didn’t offer many extras—just a rock-solid performer and a great choice for most year-round outdoor power needs.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 100 feet
  • Type: 12-gauge diameter with 3 wires
  • Amps: 15

Pros

  • Heavy-duty, 12/3 extension cord that powers higher amp-draw equipment
  • 100 feet long; provides access to electrical outlets that are farther away
  • SJTW designation; cord is reliable in the toughest weather conditions

Cons

  • Premium price compared to other extension cords on the market

Get the US Wire And Cable 100-foot extension cord at Amazon or Lowe’s.

A Recap of Our Recommendations



  1. BEST OVERALL: Iron Forge Tools 100-Foot Outdoor Extension Cord
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GE 6-Foot 3-Outlet Polarized Extension Cord
  3. RUNNER-UP: US Wire and Cable 50-Foot Lighted Extension Cord
  4. BEST STANDARD INDOOR: Firmerst Low-Profile Flat Plug Extension Cord
  5. BEST SMART: GHome Smart Power Strip
  6. BEST FOR SAFETY: Yellow Jacket 2737 12/3 Locking Extension Cord
  7. BEST FOR STYLE: Slimline Flat Plug Conductor Extension Cord
  8. BEST FOR GENERATORS: Champion Power Equipment Generator Extension Cord
  9. BEST FOR OUTDOORS: UltraPro 25-Foot Extension Cord, 3-Outlet Power Strip
  10. BEST ALL-WEATHER: US Wire and Cable 100-Foot SJTW General Purpose Cord

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Extension Cord

Various factors go into choosing the best extension cord for a given space and situation: safety and intended use, gauge and power ratings, cord length and voltage, jacket strength, and plug and socket type. Shoppers may also want to consider extra features, such as aesthetic appeal and lighted plug ends.

Intended Use

Outdoor and general-use cords can be used indoors, but an indoor extension cord should never be used outdoors.

Environmental conditions, usage frequency, and the appliance types the cord will support are also important considerations.

  • Light-duty cords are 25 to 100 feet long, have a 1 to 13 amp power rating, and a 16-gauge wire. They’re best for Christmas lights, fans, and hedge trimmers.
  • Medium-duty cords are 25 to 150 feet long, have a 14 to 15 amp power rating, and 14-gauge wire. They’re useful for powering lawn mowers and power drills.
  • Heavy-duty cords are 25 to 150 feet long, too, but have a 16 to 20 amp power rating, and 10- or 12-gauge wire. A heavy-duty cord works best for generators, chainsaws, and shop vacs.

Many reliable extension cords also have a certified safety rating from an independent testing agency, like Underwriters Laboratories (UL),Intertek (ETL), or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

Gauge Rating 

Wire gauge is the thickness or diameter of an extension cord’s internal wire. This thickness is measured by an American Wire Gauge (AWG) number: the smaller the number (000 to 40), the thicker the wire. For most home and outdoor use, look for a gauge rating between 10 and 18 AWG.

A cord’s AWG number, or gauge rating, can typically be found on its outer jacket—the layer of thermoplastic that surrounds and protects the electrical wires. Gauge rating is usually paired with the number of conducting wires inside the cord. For example, a 16/3 cord means a 16-gauge wire with three wires inside the cord.

Power Rating 

In addition to the gauge rating, there will often be three numbers associated with an extension cord’s power capacity that indicate amps, volts, and watts. When looking for the best extension cord, shoppers should take note of these values, which are crucial for extension cord safety: A cord can overheat and catch fire when an appliance is plugged into a cord with a comparatively insufficient power rating.

  • Amperes (amps) measure the volume or amount of electricity flowing through the wire inside the cord.
  • Voltage (volts) measures the pressure or resistance of this electric flow.
  • Wattage (watts) measures the resulting power, indicated by volts multiplied by amps.

Cord Length and Voltage Drop 

While some extension cords may be longer than 100 feet, those between 1 foot and 100 feet are the most helpful and popular for tasks in and around the home. Cord length also affects how much voltage is lost due to electrical resistance over distance. The longer the extension cord, the greater the voltage lost, which is a property called “voltage drop.”

To avoid voltage drop, the shortest extension cord possible should be used for a given task. Longer cords have less capacity (greater voltage drop) than shorter cords with the same gauge rating. For example, a 16-gauge extension cord less than 50 feet long can power an appliance up to 1,625 watts. By comparison, a 16-gauge cord longer than 50 feet will have less wattage and only power a 1,250-watt appliance.

Jacket Strength

Wire is an excellent conductor that needs insulation to function properly. The coating around wires is referred to as a jacket.

Plastic or woven nylon is used to cover indoor extension cords. Heavy-duty plastics, rubber, and vinyl often coat the electrical wires in outdoor extension cords, protecting them from environmental exposure, electrical leakage, and overheating.

The strength, material, and purpose of the cord jacket are designated by the following letters, which are often printed on the jacket itself:

  • – flexible cord designed for general use
  • – rated for outdoor use
  • – has standard 300-volt insulation (if this letter isn’t displayed, the cord has 600-volt insulation and is meant for heavier use)
  • – parallel wire construction, used in air conditioner cords and household extension cords
  • – made from vinyl thermoplastic
  • – made from thermoplastic elastomer rubber
  • O – oil-resistant

Plug and Socket Type

An extension cord plug may have two or three prongs. The third prong means the cord is “grounded,” providing an additional path for electrical currents and contributing to overall safety.

The ground pin (third prong) is an essential safety feature of heavier-duty extension cords, and users should never remove or bypass it in any way. Grounded (three-pronged) extension cords should be used with larger appliances.

The socket is the part of the extension cord into which users plug appliances. This strip may contain multiple sockets (for two- or three-prong plugs) to power up multiple appliances, provided users don’t go over the wattage (power rating) on the cord’s label.

Note that users can insert a two-pronged plug into a three-slotted socket, but never the reverse. Also, an extension cord with three-pronged sockets should always be used with appliances that have three-pronged plug ends.

Additional Features

Several standout features can contribute to an extension cord’s usefulness and safety, and may include:

  • Abuilt-in ground fault circuit interrupter that automatically halts power during a short circuit.
  • Lighted plug ends that illuminate when the cord is powered.
  • A connector box that keeps the cord’s plug and the connected device from pulling apart.
  • A locking socket that keeps the cord and device securely connected.
  • USB ports that let users connect a phone or other device to the power strip or extension cord while powering a laptop or monitor.
  • Embedded smart technology that lets users control plugs using a smartphone app. A smart power strip can also offer surge protection.

Having more than one extension cord or surge protector can look unattractive. Luckily, a variety of cord colors and braided fabric options are available to match existing decor. Brightly colored outdoor extension cords can help prevent tripping and other accidents.

Safety Tips for Using Extension Cords

Here are a few essential safety tips to follow whenever extension cords are used:

  • Don’t remove the grounding pin to fit it into a two-prong outlet.
  • Make sure to use the correct rating.
  • Check to see if the cord is intended for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Match the wattage rating to the appliance or tool—don’t use a lower rating.
  • Stop using the cord if it feels hot to the touch.
  • Never run an extension cord under furniture or rugs.
  • Do not plug in multiple appliances to one cord.
  • Don’t coil or bend when in use.
  • Don’t plug two or more extension cords together.
  • Refrain from nailing, taping, or stapling cord to the floor.
  • Shield receptacles with childproof covers when not in use.
  • Use polarized or three-prong plug extension cords.
  • Do not run cords through doorways, walls, floors, or ceilings.

An overloaded extension cord is hot to the touch and may blow a fuse. Damaged extension cords typically emit a burning smell when they’re plugged in, often leaving black burn marks near the power outlet, on the plug, or on the appliance. If an internal wire is visible or the plug is broken or frayed, the extension cord should be replaced.

FAQs

This guide aimed to address any questions and concerns shoppers may have about buying the best extension cords for indoor and outdoor use. Sometimes, many shoppers have additional questions regarding safety and other specifics. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions shoppers have about extension cords.

Q. What is the safest extension cord?

The safest extension cords have a rating from UL, ETL, or CSA and are properly matched to their intended use.

Q. What are the best outdoor extension cords?

Some of the best outdoor extension cords are made by UltraPro, Iron Forge Tools, and Yellow Jacket.

Q. Which is better, a 12- or 16-gauge extension cord?

It depends on the intended use. A 12-gauge wire is considered a heavy-duty extension cord, while a 16-gauge wire is a light-duty one.

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