The extension cables you’ll find online are typically of higher quality and more affordable than the ones stocked at your local brick-and-mortar hardware stores. The only downside to buying extension cords online is that you may have to wait a day or two for delivery, but that’s a small price to pay for the quality you’re getting. But no matter whether you’re getting a cable online or in-store, it’s important you get the right cable.
This is especially important if you’re shopping for industrial cables, such as a pendant cable for crane, control cable, instrumentation and data cable, high-flexible energy chain cable or anything in between. There are a few important factors to consider to ensure the cable you select is up to the task at hand.
When you’re considering the length of the extension cable you need, make sure you buy slightly longer than you actually think you’ll need. This is just so you can give yourself some extra room for error. Using longer cables is more convenient, and safer as well. Daisy-chaining cables that connect to each other is not recommended, as the extra length of two or three cords that are plugged into each other without thicker wires to accommodate for the distance can add electrical resistance between the power outlet and the device or machine you’re trying to power. This added resistance can result in voltage drops that can make your crane, drills, saws, impact wrench and other machinery run at lower power.
Furthermore, this can lead to additional heat build up, increasing the risk of cords melting and starting a fire. But even if you ignore all the associated safety risks to buying a shorter, more affordable cable, there’s another reason why you should avoid doing so – a longer extension cable means you won’t need to buy another extension cable for the next project.
On top of the cable’s length, the thickness of the wires inside will impact how much power can be safely carried. Thicker wires can generally carry more electricity over longer distances. Any cable sold at a big-box store meets the minimum requirements to operate low-power gear like battery chargers, lights and other basic equipment, but the minimum won’t be enough when you’re trying to operate power tools, industrial machinery, etc. That’s why when you’re shopping for a pendant cable for crane, for example, you’ll notice that it’s significantly thicker than the cables used to power your computer, TV or microwave at home.
Cord thickness is expressed in gauge, or AWG. Smaller numbers mean larger wires, which means they can carry more power. For industrial applications, you want a cable with at least 14 AWG, and if the cable needs to run over 20 metres, then you should consider thicker 10 AWG cables.
If cord length and thickness still have you confused, the best way to decide on the most adequate cable for your application is to look for the cable’s amperage rating. Generally, you should avoid cables that can’t handle 15 A or more. Some cables don’t list the amperage rating whatsoever, and they should be avoided. Additionally, you should pay attention to the voltage. For most household applications, a cord with 220V or 240V will be sufficient. For industrial applications, though, you want a cord that’s rated 300V or more to meet workplace safety requirements. However, more voltage doesn’t always mean better or safer. Although higher rated cables are more robust, there’s no reason to spend more money if you don’t require that type of performance from the cable.
Some cords are more flexible than others, especially when used in environments with lower temperatures. While low temperatures aren’t common in Australia, they’re possible. Flexible cords are more convenient to use and stretch out, easier to store, coil, and use in tight workspaces. When the cord is tightly wrapped in their packaging, it can be difficult to tell whether they’re flexible or not. That being said, if you don’t want to unspool the cord you’re considering in the middle of the store, or if you’re shopping online, the best way to tell whether it’s flexible or not is to pay attention to its temperature rating. While not every cord will have the ideal temperature listed, I’ve found that those listed for below freezing are more flexible, no matter the temperature.
Number of Outlet Ends
While you may be tempted to buy an extension cord with extra outlets at the end, also known as banana taps, you should avoid doing so. This is mainly because those types of cables are generally easier to overload. So if you’re powering tools, equipment, cranes, work lights or other power hogging equipment, get a cord with one power outlet. This will ensure the cable lasts for as long as possible and performs up to standards.