Do you need to power outdoor equipment such as a lawnmower or pressure washer but don't have a nearby power source? If so, you may be wondering whether you can use an extension cord to extend the power source for outdoor use. The answer is yes! However, there are steps you should take to ensure safety and prevent electrical hazards. Keep reading to find out.
Get an Extension Cord Rated for Outdoor Use
Not all extension cords are suitable for outdoor use. The ones rated for outdoor applications have the following features:
- They have a rubber or vinyl insulation to protect the device against moisture and prevent electrical hazards such as electrocution
- They have plastic covers that prevent solar damage to the equipment
- Extension cords for outdoor use always have a three-prong plug on one end and three-prong sockets on the other for electrical grounding
When buying the extension cord, check the packaging to make sure it is labelled for outdoor applications.
Check the Amperage on the Extension Cord
Outdoor power tools typically consume more power than most indoor devices. Therefore, extension cords designed for indoor use may not meet the amperage requirements of outdoor equipment. For example, a smart TV uses around 3 amps, while tools such as lawnmowers and chainsaws require about 15 amps or more.
Therefore, when buying an extension cord, check its amperage to ensure it matches up to the tools you intend to use. It's advisable to check the amperage and voltage requirements of the most power-hungry equipment in your home. For example, if the device requires 20 amps, you should get an extension cord that can handle at least 20 amps. Failure to do this will lead to frequent tripping of the circuit breaker.
Use Only GFCI Circuits
Before buying or using extension cords for outdoor applications, ensure you have a GFCI circuit for the task. Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuits trip and cut off power when they sense current leakage, usually through a human body. The nature of outdoor power applications requires the use of such a circuit as it can protect you from electrocution as you power wash your driveway or break down the stump in your yard.
If you're not sure whether there's a GFCI circuit you can use, talk to an electrician for help. They can install new GFCI circuits, preferably outdoors, for easier access.
Extension cords can ease the use of outdoor power tools by availing power over long distances. However, you should take care when buying and handling them to prevent electrical hazards. For any queries on the use of extension cords for outdoor applications, contact an electrician.