Extension cord sometimes referred as electric cords or power cords is an important accessory for your power tools, especially for your electric chainsaw. This gives mobility to any power tool and offers the user freedom to move the tool around. You may know already that a drawback for most of the electric power tool is its card.
Because of the certain length of the cord, they lack sufficient mobility you require. An extension cord can be the perfect solution for this problem. It will help you to take the power tool far away from the power outlet. But purchasing the right outdoor extension cord is not always easy. There are many in the market, but choosing the right one is tough sometimes. We will guide you here with some valuable information and features about an outdoor extension cord.
Are All Outdoor Extension Cords Same?
The answer is simply NO. If you are an experienced user of a power tool, you should know that the performance of the tool depends on the power supply. When it comes to buying an outdoor extension cord for your chainsaw, this is very important to choose the right one. The right extension cord will help the tool to achieve the optimal performance. So if you ever heard that all the extension cords are same, this is a myth. Besides the performance, the right extension cord helps to enhance safety and maximize power efficiency.
There are two types of extension cord, outdoor and indoor. The insulation, jacket and other components are different in two different types. In the outdoor extension cord, since it is exposed to the weather, the insulation and the jackets are made of more durable materials. They can withstand temperature changes, moisture, also chemicals. You can use an outdoor extension cord indoor, but never use an indoor extension cord outside the home, this is extremely risky.
While purchasing an outdoor extension cord, make sure that following considerations have been taken care of.
Environment: Where you are going to use the extension cord? What are the weather conditions of the location?
Plug type: What is the plug type? 3-prong or 2-prong?
Power rating: Range of current, wire gauge, overall length
Safety listing: Is the extension cord tested and certified to be safe? This certification comes from independent tensing agencies. The certification is important to know whether the extension cord meets the proper standard to be safe.
There are three major measurements that actually matters while choosing the best outdoor extension cord, the cord length, the amp rating of the device and the gauge. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire is. So do not get confused. Thereby the wires with lower gauge number have a greater flow of electricity. Thicker gauge is better since electricity can flow freely through the extension cords. When it’s too thin, means the wire has high gauge number the wire might get hot, since there is resistance due to the inadequate wire. Sometimes, a thinner wire cannot handle the full current that the power tool needs. Look at the following chart to get a much clear idea.
*The above data shows the minimum requirements!
To determine what size, or gauge, a cord is needed, you will also have to determine the cord’s length. A cord, based on its gauge, can power an appliance of a certain wattage only at specific distances. As the cord gets longer, the current carrying capacity of the cord gets lower. For example, a 16 gauge extension cord less than 50 feet in length can power a 1625 watt (W) appliance. A 16 gauge cord that is longer than 50 feet in length can only power an appliance up to 1250W.
You don’t need to read this article if you just want to go to a store and grab the cheapest extension cord. But as we said earlier, all the extension cords are not same, they are not equally made. Also, all are not for the same usage. An extension cord might be dangerous if not chosen carefully. In a study, it’s found that every year in the United States 3,300 home fires occur from the extension cord.
There are some letters stamped to mark the type and the usage of the cord. When they have the letter W, it means this versatile extension cord can be used outdoors. The jacket of this cord is moisture and UV resistant. You can use that both in a sunny backyard and in a damp basement. If you plan to use this extension cord for high current flow, you need thicker cords that mean cords of less gauge number. Also if you need a longer cord, for steady voltage, you need to have thicker wires.
How Outdoor Extension Cord Works?
On an outdoor extension cord, the amp rating means the number of amps the cord can safely transmit. This depends on the gauge and the length of the wire. Before you connect your power tool to an extension cord, you must know the demand of the power. If the device exceeds the extension cord’s amps rating, then the performance of the device will go down. Also if you want to connect multiple devices, make sure that you calculate them properly, the total energy demand, to make sure that the combined total is not higher than the cord’s amp rating. In some tools, the power requirement is mentioned in watt, not in amps. You can calculate it and convert into amps.
According to the standard US outlet, the maximum limit of the most power tool is 15 amps. Now you know the reason why an electric saw cannot compete with a gas powered saw when it comes to the power. For an electric saw, no matter how you try to push the performance, there is a limit of 15 amps. There is no such limit for a gas driven tool.
The longer the cord, the more resistant it has. That is why we recommend always use the shortest cord possible for a better result. Electric resistance decreases the power flow to the tool. If you have a 40 feet yard in any direction, you should not purchase a 100 feet cord.
- Only purchase an outdoor extension cord with UL symbol. The cords with UL symbol means that they are tested by Underwriters Laboratory for safety and they are certified by them
- Do never use an indoor extension cord outside the home. The outdoor extension cord is marked with ‘W’.
- “Moisture resistant” does not mean waterproof or weatherproof. Connections are rarely waterproof. There are waterproof connection boxes, you can purchase as add-on.
- Shorter extension cord is better since the longer cord causes more resistance. So it’s better to purchase the length you need.
- Try to use one extension cord for one power device to get efficient performance.
- It’s better not to plug an extension cord into another. Try to use a single extension cord for safety. The safety marking and the ratings are set for only the length of the cord. If you plug in more cords, the resistance will be higher, and other performance may go down.
- Never use a damaged cord. If in any case the wire is frayed, cut or flattened, purchase a new one.
- Keep the cord away from any moving part of your power tools like chains, blades or anything that spins, rotates or cuts.
- While not in use, always unplug the extension cord. Store the extension cord indoor. Do not leave it outside when it’s not being used.
- Make sure that you store your cord without knots.