Power cords or cables are the fundamental element of any electrical system in a home. The capacities of power cords vary, and you have to ensure that you are using the proper power cord for your purpose.
You may have come across a situation where the cord of your electrical equipment does not reach the nearest electrical outlet. An extension cord is convenient in such circumstances for connecting your appliance to your power outlet in your home.
However, you need to know the safety precautions and the capacity of any cable or extension cord to assure the safety of your home and family.
So, how can you use power cords safely in your home?
Most of us select extension cords by just checking if they are long enough. There are many other parameters than the length which will safeguard the safety of your home from fire hazards.
Standard extension cords and industrial-grade extension cords are available on the market. The industrial variants have a high power capacity which finds application in powering heavy machinery in factories.
By choosing power cords according to your use and the power needs of your equipment, you can drastically reduce the risk of fire from an electrical malfunction.
How Are Power Cords Classified?
Indoor and Outdoor Usage
Distinct power cords exist for indoor and outdoor usage. Outdoor usage exposes the wire to harsh elements such as rain, direct sunlight, and even chemicals. Outdoor power cords use sturdy materials for making a thicker jacket to withstand this burden.
Since the outdoor cords have sufficient safety features, they are safe for use indoors also. However, indoor cables are not safe for use in an outdoor environment due to the higher risk of fire and electrical shock.
Gauge Of Electrical Cord
All electrical cords, including extension cords, use an inner wire to transport electrical current from a source to power an appliance or equipment. The thickness of the metal wire conductor is known as the gauge of the wire.
A number on the wire indicates the gauge of the cable. The cord is thicker if the number is lower. The thickness of the wire also affects the distance to which the current is safely transferable.
Wattage Rating Of The Cord
The wattage rating signifies the volume of current in Watts that an electrical cord can safely transmit. It is mandatory to check the wattage rating of a cord to ensure the wire satisfies the power demands of the appliance before plugging into the extension cord.
You may be using the extension cord to power more than one device. In such cases, add up the power demands of the individual devices and assure that it is below the power rating of the extension cord.
Using an electrical cord for transmitting more power than the recommendation of the manufacturer can lead to overheating and eventually a fire.
Steps To Ensure The Safety Of Electrical Cords
1. Replace Damaged Electrical Cords
Repair or replace any electrical cords subject to damage to avert the risk of electrocution and fires. All electrical cables and power cords need constant checking to ensure that they are in pristine working condition. While replacing appliance power cords such as computer power cords, ensure to use only authentic cords to avert the risk of electrical hazards.
Stapling power cords in place or placing a cord under a carpet or floor rug is dangerous as the wire may overheat, which can cause a fire. The cable may also stretch due to the additional stress of stepping on it regularly causing it to deform.
2. Provide Appropriate Air Circulation Around Appliances
Provide enough space around all electrical appliances for air to circulate and dissipate the accumulation of heat due to operating over long periods. Generally, no electrical device should run in any box or containment.
Read More:- Why use XLPE Power Cables?
Electrical devices prone to heating comes with inbuilt exhaust fans. The exhaust fans accumulate dirt and dust over time, reducing its efficiency or even clogging it up, preventing air circulation. Regular cleanup is a requirement to avoid electrical hazards.
3. Keep Electricals And Outlets Away From Water And Fire
Keeping your electricals high and dry is critical in preventing electrocution and shorting the circuit. The placement of electrical appliances should be away from sinks or plant pots to reduce any chances of water contacting the electricals.
The positioning of electrical devices should not be near flammable objects such as perfumes or a gas stove. Exposure to direct flame could quickly melt the protective coating on a cord, causing it to catch fire.
Safety is the topmost concern when it comes to electrical purposes in your home. According to a report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 180 cases of fires break out in homes due to electrocution and faulty electrical systems.
Electrical equipment which has faulty wiring is responsible for more than 69% of a fire breaking out in a home, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Light fixtures, plugs, cords, transformers, bulbs, and other power sources are secondary sources of fire accidents.