An extension cord usually consists of insulated wire, a plug, and some sockets at one end. This is a convenient and safe way to utilize limited power outlets. You can use these cords to connect power tools, appliances, or anything other electric device required when you’re working in your garage.
Why Do We Need Extension Cords for the Garage?
Many people utilize their garage space for a lot more than just parking their vehicles. Some might set up a craft room in there, which will require electricity for glue guns, electric sanding machines; vacuum cleaners, and so on. Others could have a woodworking shop set up in their garage, which might require the use of power tools, focused lighting, space heaters, etc. The needs might overlap, but an extension cord is a budget-friendly way to get the power you need. Not everyone has the budget to install power outlets just where they need them, so these cords come in handy when working on a project.
How to Choose the Right Extension Cord
There are, however, several factors you need to take into account before making your extension cord purchase. Just getting the cheapest kind in bulk might seem like a good idea at first, but this results in a compromise on quality. Low quality extension cords are more likely to overheat and become a fire hazard. They might also fray, break, or short out at the most inconvenient moment shortly after purchase.
Even if you buy quality extension cords, make sure you read up on how to organize these cords in your garage.
To stay safe and ensure that you can get your work done without much hassle, keep the following considerations in mind when you get extension cords for your garage:
1. Their Intended Purpose
One of the first things you need to sort out is whether you’d need these cords for only indoor use, or whether they would also need to be used out of doors at times. Indoor extension cords are not meant for outdoor use, while outdoor versions are also fine when used inside.
While a garage is technically indoors, the location of the nearest power outlet might make the extension cord trail along on the ground outside. You may also want the cord for outdoor use at times. In such cases, opt for an outdoor extension cord when you’re narrowing down the choices.
The next purpose to think about is what the cord will be used for on a regular basis. Does it only have to power small appliances, or are there power tools and space heaters to consider as well? How often will you be using to cord and what are the conditions like in your garage? All these answers will be handy in deciding what extension cord will be best for your situation.
2. Gauge Rating
A wire gauge means the diameter or thickness of the internal wire in an extension cord. This thickness is given an AWG (American Wire Gauge) number. The thicker this wire is, the smaller its number will be (ranging anywhere from 0 to 40). If you want a sturdy outdoor extension cord, the gauge rating should be from 10 to 18 AWG.
The gauge rating will usually be paired with the number of wires that the cord holds. A 16/2 cord denotes a wire with 16 gauges and two wires inside.
3. Safety Rating
Before you choose any extension cord, make sure it’s a reliable one with a safety rating from independent testing agencies. These agencies include UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Intertek). A certification from organizations like these will assure you that the cord meets all international and federal safety standards.
4. Power Capacity or Rating
Amperes or amps measure the volume of electricity that flows through the conducting wires in an extension cord. The voltage measures the resistance of the electric flow. Checking out these values is essential; you need to plug in appliances accordingly. If a cord doesn’t have enough power rating to properly power a certain tool of appliance, it risks overheating and catching fire.
5. Voltage Drop
While it might be possible to find extension cords that measure over a hundred feet, you don’t really need anything so long for tasks in the garage and around the house. The length of the extension cord will affect the amount of lost voltage through electric resistance due to the distance. This phenomenon is called the voltage drop, basically meaning that they lose the strength of the electric flow.
This loss of voltage is why it’s best to determine the shortest possible extension cord that’s needed to get your tasks done.
6. Types of Sockets and Plugs
There might be two prongs or three of your extension cord plug. If there are three, it indicates a grounded cord, meaning increased safety and gives another path for the electric currents to flow through. If you’re using large appliances or heavy duty power tools with your extension cord, get one with three prongs.
The socket is where you directly plug in whatever you want the power for. The sockets are usually in the form of a strip. Where there are options for both two and three-pronged plugs. If your appliance has a three-pronged plug, make sure that your extension cord has one too.
7. Strength of Jacket
The act covering the wires should be effective for safe function and insulate the inside. This could be made of nylon, plastics, vinyl, rubber, and similar material to prevent exposure to the elements along with electrical leakage. A quality jacket will also prevent overheating.
The material, purpose, and strength of any extension cord’s jacket are usually apparent through the use of various letters. Here are some of the letters you may find printed there:
- S: Flexible cord for general use
- W: Suitable for outdoor use
- J: 300 voltage insulation (without J, there would be a 600-volt insulation)
- P: parallel wire construction
- T: Material is vinyl thermoplastic.
- E: Material is TPE (thermoplastic elastomer rubber)
- O: Oil resistant
The table below helps to summarize the various main features of extensions cords and what they provide:
|Gauge||Rating||Range of Length||Amps||Suitable Uses|
|16/2||Light Duty||25 to 100 feet||13A (0’-50’)
|Christmas lights and fans|
|16/3||Light Duty||25 to 100 feet||13A (0’-50’)
|Lights, fans, and tools like hedge trimmers|
|14/3||Medium Duty||25 to 150 feet||15A(50’-100’)
|Corded lawn mowers, power drills|
|12/3||Heavy Duty||25 to 150 feet||15A (0’-100’)||Chain saws, industrial vacuums|
|10/3||Heavy Duty||25 to 150 feet||15A (0’-100’)||Power tools, generators|
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the top choices for extension cords today:
This extension cord is from a well-known company and suitable for general use both indoors and out. It has a flexible vinyl jacket that’s resistant to water and overall moisture, so you won’t have to worry about it being in a dewy garden. The wire is 16 gauge with a power rating of 1250 watts, 125 volts, and 10 amps. This cord also has a UL-listing, which assures us of its safety.
Overall, the length of this cord is excellent for just about any kind of use in any corner of your home or garage. You can draw it outside to plug your lawnmower in, or use it with your power tools inside the garage. It’s also useful when you need to power up string lights for an event or get an appliance working in an awkward place. However, the length of it might result in some voltage drop.
- Jacket is waterproof, moisture-resistant, and provides UV protection
- According to UL safety standards
- Durable wire
- 3-prong grounded plug
- Safe for outdoor and indoor use
- Long cord for easy use anywhere on a small property or large garage
- Length may mean a voltage drop
- Just one outlet
This 50-feet extension cord is bright yellow in color, which is the first thing you notice about it. This color is good for safety purposes, as one would see it from far away and can easily avoid tripping over it. When in storage or among other cables, you’d be able to easily distinguish it from other equipment in your garage workshop. The inside wires are thick (12-gauge) and have 1875 watts, 125 volts, and 15 amps.
A vinyl jacket with the letters SJTW
- Lighted female plug that tells you when cord is powered up
- Jacket is resistant to cracking even in very cold temperatures
- Bright color provides ease and safety
- Color might not present a nice aesthetic during events
A six-foot extension cord might be quite a short option, but it will do if you have a small garage space or want a cord in one place most of the time. This extension cord provides the outlets in its power strip, so one can use it for powering up several items at once. For instance, you might have your lamp plugged into it at all times, or perhaps some string lights for the purpose of decorating your garage. In addition to that, you can easily plug in a glue gun or appliance when needed.
- Safety outlet covers to prevent accidents
- UL-certified 160 gauge cable
- Strain relief in plug to prevent fraying
- Comes in a few color options
- Two pronged plug only; not suitable for heavy duty use
- Only for indoor use; too short and delicate for rough outdoor use
There are now many smart power strips available on the market, and this offering from TanTan is one of them. This particular option is able to sync with Alexa and Google Home, making it a suitable addition to any smart home.
Along with the usual power outlets in this strip, there are also 3 USB ports for charging various devices. These have an output of 3.1 amps, which is good enough for charging smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices at the same time.
This extension cord is able to support up to 140 volts, with a maximum of 10 amps.
- Can be controlled through an app
- Voice control
- Schedule and countdown timer
- Offers overload and surge protection
- Several outlets for simultaneous charging
- Will only work with a 2.4G Wi-Fi, which might be outdated very soon
- Not for use outdoors
Again, this particular option isn’t the longest extension cord around. However, 25 feet should be enough for using in any garage, especially with regular use. It gives you an impressive 3750 watts, which makes it suitable for running a generator. The 30 amps and 125 volts of one outlet further support this powerful electrical flow. There are also three other outlets with a power r rating of 15 amps. You can put these outlets at some distance from the exhaust of the generator for safety purposes.
- Power output is quite high
- Resistant to extreme temperatures, weather changes, and general abrasion
- Has a 30-amp locking outlet
- 10 gauge thick and durable wire
- Dust covers included
- A bit on the expensive side
Below is a comparison table summarizing all the top choices for extension cords:
|Name of Extension/ Features to Consider||Iron Forge Cable 100 Foot Outdoor Extension Cord||US Wire and Cable 74050||GE 3-Outlet Power Strip||TanTan Gosund Smart Power Strip||Champion Power Equipment 25 ft. Extension Cord|
|Number of Outlets||1||1||3||3 outlets, 3 USB ports||4 outlet, 1 30-amp and 15 amp|
|Indoor or Outdoor||Both||Both||Indoor only||Indoor Only||Both|
|Color||Green||Yellow||Black, might be available in different colors||Black||Yellow|
|Length||100 feet||50 feet||6 feet||Not clear||25 feet|
|Gauge Rating||16 gauge||12 gauge||16 gauge||Not clear||10 gauge|
Whether you want to turn your garage into a photography studio or just want a power outlet for your generator, a quality extension cord will solve many of your problems. As is evident from the above discussion, there are a lot of options for people who need extension cords in their garage. Each of them are great, but only a few might be suitable according to your requirements. The customer reviews online and guides like this one will hopefully set you on the path to finding the safest, most reliable, and useful extension cord for all your garage needs. If you find yourself with a very long cord, a wonder winder might be useful in keeping it all organized.