Top 9 Advantages of Outdoor Extension Cord
An outdoor extension cord is an indispensable tool for homeowners frequently engaged in outdoor projects. Specifically designed for outdoor use, these cords are built to withstand exposure to various weather conditions. Their durable and weatherproof construction allows for the safe use of lighting, power tools, household appliances, and other electrical equipment in outdoor spaces such as the yard, garage, patio, and more.
This article delves into the numerous advantages of purpose-built outdoor extension cords.
First and foremost, an outdoor extension cord is safer to use than traditional indoor cords outdoors. Indoor extension cords are generally not designed to withstand moisture, ultraviolet rays, temperature extremes, and other outdoor conditions.
Using an indoor cord outside puts it at risk of deterioration, leading to exposed wires, electrical shorts, and shock/fire hazards. An outdoor-rated cord has water-resistant covers to prevent moisture intrusion and insulation designed for durability. This gives you peace of mind that the cord can withstand the elements.
An extension cord, by nature, gives you greater reach to access power where you need it. Outdoor extension cords are available in lengths up to 100 feet and in 12-, 14-, and 16-gauge sizes to reduce voltage drop over longer distances.
With a sufficiently long outdoor extension cord, you can easily power tools or appliances in your backyard without lugging around a generator. The cord’s flexibility allows you to route it along the perimeter, through plants, and bend it around obstacles. This provides power where you need it most for gardening, holiday lighting, and more.
In addition to reach, outdoor extension cords offer great portability for power access. Lightweight cords with compact storage reels allow you to transport the cord around your yard and store it neatly when not in use. Some models have built-in carrying handles or shoulder straps to move the cord more easily.
This portability gives you flexibility in what you can power and where without complicated installation. Just roll out the cord, plug it in, and use it where you want to work. When finished, you can quickly relocate the power access as needed.
For powering high-draw appliances and tools like air compressors, table saws, and welders, the thicker 12 or 14-gauge cords are necessary. The heavier gauge wire allows the cord to handle these devices’ high amperage without overheating safely.
Indoor and smaller gauge extension cords can overheat, melt, and short when plugging in too high a draw. The sturdier construction of a heavy-duty outdoor cord ensures reliable power transfer to give you confidence in running your most demanding outdoor power equipment.
An extension cord must stand up to the elements for year-round outdoor use. Outdoor extension cords have durable PVC jackets to guard against moisture, dirt, and grease. Some models also have added UV inhibitors in the plastic to prevent sun damage.
The flexible jacket allows cords to be easily deployed across the yard without cracking. For cold weather flexibility, select cords rated for low temperatures. The plugs and connectors are also weatherproofed with sealed covers and watertight materials. Premium outdoor cords may even be submersible for use in wet conditions.
Reduced Trip Hazard
Since extension cords span long distances, they can easily become a trip hazard, especially in high-traffic areas. Outdoor-rated extension cords help reduce this risk in a few ways. First, the flexible jacket material allows the cord to flatter against the ground rather than curling up.
Second, manufacturers offer bright yellow and orange cords for high visibility. Finally, components like the EZ Trak cable cover can be paired with a cord to give a flat ramp over the cable that people can easily walk over. Laying the cord properly along a perimeter or securing it with stakes/cable ties improves safety.
In addition to electrical and trip hazards, improper extension cord use introduces fire risks outdoors. Prolonged exposure to elements can compromise the insulation over time. Poor connections can ignite from heat buildup. Moisture ingress can corrode connections to create shorts.
Using an outdoor-rated cord reduces these risks with weatherproofing features and heavy-duty conductors. Laying cords properly to avoid damage and inspecting them periodically also improves safety. Well-maintained outdoor extension cords have built-in fire prevention compared to combustible garden hoses and other conductive makeshift lengtheners sometimes used.
Ground Fault Protection
For additional safety around water and wet conditions, look for an outdoor extension cord with integrated GFCI protection. The ground fault circuit interrupter shuts off power to the cord if it detects any leakage current, preventing electrocution risks. This is especially useful for outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, and other wet environments. A standard GFCI outlet could also be used, but an all-in-one cord simplifies use as the protection travels with the power.
For improved visibility and safety outdoors at night, seek an extension cord with lighted ends. These have LED lamps at the plug and socket ends to indicate the power connection points after dark. This guides safe plugging/unplugging and reduces tripping hazards around the cord. It also adds a decorative glow for the nighttime ambiance in yards and patios.
In summary, outdoor extension cords provide critical safety, reach, durability, and versatility for powering projects and tasks outside the home. Choosing a heavy-duty outdoor-rated cord ensures electrical reliability and protection in all weather conditions.
A quality cord in good condition will provide many years of safe, convenient power access outside the walls of your home. Considering the benefits, an outdoor extension cord is a wise investment for every homeowner.