GREENSBORO, NC -- When you think electrical mistakes, the last ceiling fan install may come to mind. But Don Sowell, a Master Electrician and educator at GTCC says most of our mistakes start with an extension cord.
#1 "People pick up a 99-cent cord and then hook it to their space heater or a hair dryer even, and the small appliance takes more current than the cord can hold."
Don goes on to explain that many space heaters are rated 1500 Watts, which draws a current of 12 ½ Amps.
Here's a quick reference:
An 18 gauge cord is rated for 10 Amps.
A 16 gauge cord is rated 13 Amps.
A 14 gauge cord is rated 18 Amps.
The smaller the gauge, the more amps it can pull. If they don't match up. you can run the risk of fire, but also of having to replace the appliance more often.
#2 "You go to one of our local stores to buy an electric leaf blower. This blower costs about $40. It's rated 12 Amps. An 80 foot 12 gauge outdoor extension cord probably costs an average of $60. The 80 foot 16 gauge probably cost about $25. Which one will you buy? The problem is the 16 gauge cord is only rated for 10 Amps while the 12 is rated 15 Amps. Using the 16 will result in reduced life expectancy of your leaf blower."
#3 All light fixtures have a wattage rating. However many people will put a higher wattage lamp in it fixture without considering the rating to have more light. It will work but, "a higher wattage bulb generates more heat which the light fixture is not designed to dissipate. This will result in damaging the insulation of the conductors connected to the light. This damage has the potential to cause fire"
You can easily check your lamp or light fixture for the proper wattage. When it comes to appliances and the cords, the amps and gauge is listed on the products.