Most appliances that plug into the wall have
a power cord that ranges up to
6 feet in
length. When you need to position
a greater distance from the closest
outlet, you need an extension
When buying an extension cord,
- environment - most extension cords are made
for indoor use. If you plan to use the cord
outdoors, make sure that you buy one designed
for outdoor use (you can use an outdoor cord
indoors without a problem).
- length - get the minimum length necessary
but avoid too small of a length that would
require you to connect multiple cords to
get the length you need.
- capacity - cords are marked with their safe
wattage rating. Pick a cord with sufficient
wattage for the appliances you will be plugging
into it (if you are going to plug in several,
make sure the cord can handle the total amount).
The wattage required for an appliance is
usually marked on the appliance, often near
where the power cord attaches.
- voltage - most extension cords are designed
for 120 volt appliances. Some appliances,
such as electric stoves and washing machines,
may require 220-240 volts and so use a different
style plug (a three bladed plug with the
blades angled); if so, you will need to buy
the appropriate cord.
- polarized, grounded outlets - many appliances
require an outlet that accepts polarized
plugs (where one blade of the plug is wider
than the other) and/or grounded plugs (which
have two flat blades and a third, rounded
prong). For simplicity and safety, always
get extension cords that accept grounded
- plug style - most cords have plugs that are
in line with the cord; however, if you need
an extension cord to fit behind furniture
or appliances, consider one with a flat plug
that is at a right angle to the cord and
thereby allows the cord to hug the wall.
- safety - electricity can be dangerous so
pick a cord that allows the unused outlets
to be closed or covered and that comes with
the Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) seal