Whether you’re powering heavy machinery or just making sure your phone is charged, there’s probably a good chance you have more than a few extension cords and power strips around the house. And while you might not have put too much thought into the extension cords since you first plugged them in, you probably should. That’s because different cords are rated for different loads. Despite built-in protections, overloading a power strip or extension cord can potentially result in fire. If you’re using an extension cord to power any appliances or devices that draw a lot of power, you’ll have to make sure that you’re using the right cord for the job.
All wiring is categorized by gauges and the gauge of your extension cord is arguably the most important factor to consider. Any cords or wires in the US are rated using the AWG, or the American Wire Gauge system. A smaller gauge number makes for a thicker wire and thicker wires are more capable of powering larger appliances or machines. You also want to consider the length of the wire. The longer the wire, the greater the voltage drop. That means that in general, if you’re using a long extension cord, you’ll need to choose one with a lower gauge than you would for a short cord.
Whether you need a light-duty cord for your table lamp or a powerful outdoor cord for heavy machinery, we’ve rounded up the best extension cords you can buy right now.
1. UltraPro GE 25 ft Extension Cord
This 25-foot cable is a good option for indoor or outdoor use. The best thing about this extension cord is that it has three outlets on the end, combining the functionality of a power strip with the reach of an extension cord. As for the technical details, the extension cord is 16 gauge and 13 amps. The cable is UL-listed, making it a safe option when properly used.
Pros: A 25-foot cable with three three-prong outlets on the end.
Cons: Outlets are somewhat close to each other, which may limit how many things you can plug in.
2. Southwire Outdoor Extension Cord
This pick from Southwire is the most heavy-duty option on this list, making it a great pick for outdoor use. The wire is 12 gauge, which is thicker than most of the other 14 or 16 gauge options on this list. At 50 feet long, it’s a good option for outdoor yard work. The wire has a high-visibility yellow jacket that is protective against wear and weather. The outlet has a transparent housing with a light that indicates when something is plugged in.
Pros: Heavy-duty 12-gauge wire. Long 50-foot cable. Built-in light indicates when power is flowing. UL-listed.
Cons: More expensive than other options on this list.
3. Cable Matters 16 AWG Extension Cord
You never know when you’ll need another extension cord, which is why it’s always a good idea to stock up. This option from Cable Matters consists of a two-pack of cables of equal length, and you can choose between eight sizes from this listing. The shortest is 1 foot long while the longest is 50 feet long. The price shown below is for the 10-foot cable. The cable is 16 gauge, making it a good light-duty option. The extension cord can accommodate three-pronged plugs.
Pros: Comes in a two-pack. Three-prong design makes it versatile. Insulation is rated up to 30 volts.
Cons: Not very flexible, which can make it hard to maneuver the cables into place.
4. Iron Forge Cable 100 Foot Extension Cord
For a power cord that literally goes the distance, we recommend the Iron Forge Cable 100 Foot Outdoor Extension Cord. Iron Forge has a wide selection of extension cords, including shorter cords and even a 200-foot option. This water-resistant extension cord is covered in flexible vinyl that protects against damage from moisture, sunlight and abrasions, making it appropriate for both indoor and outdoor use. The 12-gauge, three-wire extension cord includes prongs that are made with reinforced blades that protect against bending or breaking.
Pros: The UL-listed extension cord includes a light on the female end that illuminates to indicate when power is on.
Cons: The Iron Forge is heavy and may be cumbersome to lift.
5. GE Designer Extension Cord With Surge Protection
For times when you need extra length and extra outlets, we recommend the GE Designer Extension Cord With Surge Protection. The extension cord includes three grounded outlets that enable users to charge multiple devices at once. The flat plug design won’t cover the second wall outlet and the UL-listed extension cord includes surge protection with a 250-joule rating. The braided design of the cord looks modern and combats tangling.
Pros: GE makes three sizes of the Designer Extension Cord, including 6-inch, 8 and 15-feet. It’s available in black, heather grey and white (shown here).
Cons: The extension cord does not have an On/Off switch and the maximum voltage it can support is 125.
6. US Wire and Cable Extension Cord
For an extension cord that makes it easy to work in cold climates, we recommend the US Wire and Cable Extension Cord. The 12-gauge, 50-foot extension cord features a lighted female plug that helps users see their outlet even in low lighting. The heavy-duty, multicolored cord is safe for outdoor use thanks to its 100 percent Thermo-Plastic Elastometer compound construction, which means it’s resistant to oil and is ideal for use with snow blowers and power tools. The cord won’t break or crack even in extreme conditions and has an impressive temperature operating range of -94 degrees to 221 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pros: US Wire and Cable makes their multicolored extension cord in 12 and 14 gauge and 25, 50 and 100-foot lengths.
Cons: The female plug can be stiff and difficult to use.
7. Woods 50-Foot Agricultural Outdoor Heavy Duty All- Weather Extension Cord
If you need a lot of reach, this option from Woods is a good pick. The cable is 14 gauge, making it suited for most applications. The 50-foot length gives you wide reach if you’re working in your yard or on an outdoor project. The cord is coated in black vinyl to protect it from hot or cold weather when working outside. It takes three-prong plugs and also plugs into the wall using a three-prong plug.
Pros: Long 50-foot cord is good for outdoor use. UL-Listed. Good for people with large outdoor spaces.
Cons: 14 gauge may be too weak for some applications.
8. AmazonBasics 16/3 Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord
Amazon’s in-house brand makes affordable versions of just about everything, ranging from motor oil to toilet paper. This extension cord from AmazonBasics is 50 feet long, giving the user ample reach for outdoor use. There are other sizes available from this listing, ranging between 15 feet and 100 feet. You can get it in high-visibility orange or a discreet green (which is great for hiding in the yard). The 16-gauge cable is suitable for lighter applications.
Pros: Affordable and long cable. Available in high-visibility orange or discreet green. Vinyl coated for insulation when used outdoors.
Cons: Outlet may be too bulky to accommodate some plugs, which may require some trimming to the rubber ends.