Best extension cord

Charging & Power

When electricity travels through an extension cord, it generates heat. If you don’t take the time to choose the right extension cord, excessive heat can build up and cause a short circuit or a fire.

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Which extension cord is best?

Not all extension cords are the same. There are 11 different classifications for extension cords that can be mixed and matched. Plus, extension cords have different thicknesses (gauges), and some are grounded while others are not. In short, there are a staggering amount of options available when choosing an extension cord.

However, for most general-use cords, there are only a few key concerns. Knowing these can make finding the right cord much simpler. Our favorite is Iron Forge Cable’s Outdoor Lighted Extension Cord, a heavy-duty 100-foot cord loaded with handy features. To learn more about this top-rated extension cord as well as what to look for in other extension cords, keep reading.

What to know before you buy an extension cord

The four most critical aspects to choosing the right extension cord in most situations are length, gauge, the location where it will be used, and if it is grounded.

  • Length: If an extension cord isn’t long enough to reach where you need it to, it will be of no use to you. Choosing a cord that’s longer than you think you’ll need is advisable.
  • Gauge: The gauge is what makes an extension cord safe to use. A lower gauge can more safely handle a higher load. It’s important to note that longer extension cords require a higher gauge wire than shorter ones. Choosing an extension cord that’s less expensive often means it is a higher gauge and could be hazardous if used improperly.
  • Location: An outdoor extension cord can be used indoors, but an indoor extension cord should never be used outdoors. If you plan on using your extension cord outdoors, it must be properly rated.
  • Grounding: It’s easy to know if your extension cord is grounded because it will have two slots and a roundish hole instead of just two slots. That third prong may seem inconsequential, but its purpose is to greatly diminish the possibility of shock and fires. Always look for a grounded extension cord.

What to look for in a quality extension cord

  • Multiple outlets: An extension cord that features multiple outlets allows you to use the cord for more than one item at a time.
  • Lighted: The reason an extension cord lights up is not to look decorative; it’s a safety feature to let you know that it is live.
  • Flexibility: Some extension cords are stiff, which can make using and storing them troublesome. The more flexible your extension cord is, the easier it will be to manage.

How much you can expect to spend on an extension cord

You can pay as little as $5 for a short indoor extension cord with no grounding. However, as you look at the longer grounded cords that feature a lower gauge and are rated for outdoor use, the price quickly increases. The high-end models can cost as much as $75.

Extension cord FAQ

Q. What do all those letters mean on an extension cord?

A. Those letters denote the UL/CSA classification of your extension cord.

  • S = service grade
  • J = hard service
  • V = vacuum cleaner cord
  • P = parallel cord
  • E = thermoplastic elastomer
  • O = oil resistant
  • T = thermoplastic
  • W = outdoor
  • H = heater cable
  • VW-1 = flame retardant
  • FT2 = flame retardant

If you want to use your extension cord outside, for instance, it must feature a “W” in the labeling to be considered safe for outdoor use.

Q. Which is thicker: an eight-gauge wire or a 14-gauge wire?

A. The larger the number, the thinner the wire. So, an eight-gauge wire is thicker than a 16-gauge wire and would be considered more heavy-duty.

What are the best extension cords to buy?

Top extension cord

Iron Forge Cable Outdoor Lighted Extension Cord

Iron Forge Cable Outdoor Lighted Extension Cord

What you should know: A 100-foot, three-pronged, 12-gauge, heavy-duty extension cord that is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

What you’ll love: This extension cord is packed with bells and whistles that make it stand out from the others: reinforced blades, heavy-duty strain relief, and an LED light that lets you know when the cord is live. The bright yellow color makes it highly visible.

What you should consider: A unit where the LED lights don’t work rarely slips past quality control.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top extension cord for money

US Wire and Cable 50-Foot Heavy-Duty Extension Cord

US Wire and Cable 50-Foot Heavy-Duty Extension Cord

What you should know: An affordably priced, heavy-duty three-pronged, 12-gauge extension cord that is suitable for outdoor use.

What you’ll love: This extension cord is oil resistant, and it’s designed to hold up in the toughest work environments. It’s 50 feet long, and the manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty.

What you should consider: This cord is a bit stiffer than you might be expecting.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Maximm Extension Cord 25 Foot

Maximm Extension Cord 25 Foot

What you should know: A 16-gauge, three-pronged, tri-outlet extension cord that is suitable for outdoor use.

What you’ll love: This conveniently sized 25-foot extension cord allows you to plug as many as three items into the cord. It features a space-saving flat plug that provides a better fit behind furniture and has a handy accessory loop, so the cord can be easily stored or hung.

What you should consider: Not for permanent source of power.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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