When it comes to finding the best outdoor extension cord, safety should be your main concern. This is especially true when buying an extension cord to use with your power tools and electrical equipment. Getting the best outdoor extension cord can make it easier to get your work done, but any benefits are eliminated if you create an unsafe situation, both for yourself and your tools/equipment. There are four things that you must keep in mind when buying the best outdoor extension cord: length, gauge, rating and color.
In many cases, you can find outdoor extension cords that range from 25 feet to 100 feet. The length that you need will mostly depend upon the project that you are working on and the layout of your outdoor work space and positioning of your electrical outlets. It is recommended that you purchase the shortest length that you can use in order to get the job done. In other words, the shorter the cording ,the better. This is because excess cording will often present a safety hazard (i.e. someone may trip and fall). If you do need a longer cord, but do not want to risk having too much cording, shorter extensions cords may be joined together (assuming that you use the proper gauge for the power needed).
After you have calculated how much electrical cording you will need, you will now need to determine the gauge of the extension cord. Do not use an undersized cord as this could present a fire hazard. When choosing a gauge for the cold weather extension cords, the most common gauges you will come across include 12, 14 and 16. The smaller the gauge is, the larger the wires will be in the cord. In addition, the cord will become heavier as the gauge gets smaller. Keep in mind that larger wires allow you to deliver more power safely over a longer distance. For example, a 12 gauge can be used up to 150 feet; a 14 gauge can be used up to 100 feet and a 16 gauge wire can be used up to 50 feet.
In general, extension cords are rated with alpha-numeric numbers. These numbers are based on the environment that they were designed to be used in. This rating can be found on the outer cover (usually stamped or printed). To get the best outdoor extension cord, you will want to look for a rating such as SW-A, SOW-A, STW-A, STOW-A, SJA-A, SJOW-A, SJTW-A or SJTOW-A. You will also need to look for key ratings. These include outdoor use (W), heavy use (J), vinyl thermoplastic cover (T) and oil resistant (O).
The color of the outdoor extension cord is another important factor. For example, Pro Glo® Extension Cords are available in eight different jacket colors.
In some cases, you may find the need for printed extension cords. Personalizing extension cords with a name and phone number has proven to cut losses on the job site and at family reunions!