Have you ever used all the sockets of your extension to charge the mobile, switch on the vacuum cleaner and decorative lamps? Chances that devices got shut off simultaneously are high. It is due to electrical overloading. Electrical overloading occurs when you draw more current than a circuit can handle. With overloading, a circuit breaker or fuse trips and all the connected electrical devices turn off without the supply of power. The use of circuit breakers is necessary as they can prevent extensive damage to the electrical components and also protect us from fire hazards.
Extension cords are a convenient way to use more devices and bring electricity to places without switchboards. You might use them for fancy outdoor lights or in your garden to prune the plants. But at times, even small led lights could trip the circuit. It is because you might have plugged the extension cord to the same channel where you already connect heavy wattage equipment like refrigerators or television. So, one has to be very careful while using extension cords. Ensure to follow the below safety precautions and prevent overloading an extension cord.
1. Choose the right extension cord:
Purchase laboratory-tested cords. You should know the amount of power it draws. You should also see the wattage of devices you will plug into the extension box. Buy equipment that has LED lights to indicate the status of the protection system and the amount of power utilized. Check the circuit capacity before connecting the extension cord to it. For example, you might need an adapter for plugging in a 30 amp extension cord to the 50 amp power socket. Generally, extension wires with large diameters can handle more current safely. You can also check the gauge number to find the same. Use cords having polarized pins or plugs with three prongs. It ensures that we connect the live wire of the circuit to the livewire of the equipment and neutral to neutral of the circuit. The third prong is for grounding purposes. It prevents you from getting electrical shock and ensures more safety.
2. Usage precautions:
You should never remove the grounding pin of the extension cord. The two pin-hole sockets are for drawing less current and are suitable single electrical devices with low or medium wattage. Similarly, you should never connect more than one extension cord to the same circuit. It can definitely lead to overloading. The extension wire should not be under rug or carpet. It prevents them from dissipating heat and leads to fire hazards. You should not fix the cords on the floor or behind the furniture. It adds additional pressure on the wire, and the outer protective layer might breakdown. Consequently, you may come in contact with the live wire. Do not attach one extension cord to another. It might multiply the power usage. You should also not connect high wattage devices such as heaters, ovens, etc., simultaneously to the extension box. It is essential that you do not use the extension cord if it is hot to touch. Increased heating implies an overloading problem.
3. Storage Care:
You should unplug the extension cord when it is not in use. You should never take the cords out without disconnecting the extension box. Do not store the cords in tiny places. Cramping the wires might lead to the breakdown of insulation layers. The outdoor extension cords are longer and have a higher current carrying safety. They are bulkier too. But you have to keep them in a safe place when not in use and should not leave them in the garden or portico after use. If you find it tough to wind and unwind the cords, then you can use adjustable Velcro straps to keep the loops in place.
4. Proper Maintenance is essential:
The extension wire should not run through the floor or dangle from anywhere. In homes or commercial sites, you should not keep the cords in places where people walk frequently. It prevents tripping and unnecessary bending of the wire. You should keep the plug and the cable dry. It is an absolute necessity for outdoor cords. Cords with proper insulation cover can withstand rains, and you should ensure that the plug has a watertight connector. The length of the cable should be approximately equal to the distance between the circuit socket and the device which requires it. You should always inspect the extension cord for any damages before using it.
5. Go for surge protector extension cords:
A surge protector prevents electronic devices from getting damaged due to temporary high voltage supply in the line. But it does not provide multiple power outlets. Attaching an external surge protector to the extension cord could be dangerous. You will have to ensure that the surge protector and extension cable draw the same amount of power. Otherwise, both the wire and connected components might get damaged. A power surge extension cord combines the functionality of both and has long cables. It can be used to create temporary outlets on the wall.
Extension cords are not a permanent solution to your power socket issues. You should opt for new circuits to have more sockets. For temporary requirements such as garden lighting, festive serial lights, etc., you can use extension cords. You should always check if the cable and plug are in a perfect state. To prevent overloading, you should also carry out electrical equipment inspection regularly.