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Tips for Using 20 AMP Extension Cords 

by Nathan Zachary

The never-ending energy demand to power devices requires you to have the right extension cords to supply the power to the needed area. A suitable extension cord will also guarantee the safety of your devices; hence you need to use ideal extension cords such as 20-amp extension cords. They are popular in businesses, workshops, and even homes due to their energy capacity and capabilities; however, you need to use them safely. 

When using the 20-amp extension cords, you need to observe various safety tips. You should also follow practices to increase their lifespan to void budgeting for new ones. Here are some guidelines when using these extension cords.  

  1. The right environment for use 

You can use extension cords in different environments; however, you need to use them correctly in suitable environments to prevent environmental or environment-related damage. To consider the right environment for use, you need to observe the cord marking, informing you of the right environment to use the cords. Here are some labels and markings to help in the selection process: 

S- The cords are suitable for general- indoor use and can power the kitchen and energy-intensive appliances such as ovens, microwaves, fridges, and freezers. 

O- These cords are oil-resistant, can be used in warehouses and manufacturing areas, and are likely to come into contact with oil and grease.  

P- They have parallel wire construction.  

W- these cords are suitable for outdoor uses, and you can use them for outdoor activities such as construction. The cords are heat, water, and oil resistant hence ideal for the outdoor environment. They have a rubber, plastic, or vinyl covering to protect the internal elements.  

T- These cords are thermoplastic resistant and can resist heat and high temperatures.  

You must check these labels before using a 20-amp extension cord to ensure you use them appropriately to prevent damage and accidents.   

  1. Using the right wire gauge and energy source 

Using 20-amp cords and extensions ensures the energy source can also support the energy needs. For instance, when you connect multiple extensions to reach the desired destination, you need to join the cords to another with the same voltage capacity. Doing this will help you avoid accidents. You should also ensure the power outlet can provide a capacity of 20-amp and more.  

The other concern is the energy source; you should ensure the power outlet has a capacity of 20 amps or more to provide the needed energy. When determining the right wire gauge and length, you should consider the extension cord size chart.  

The gauge refers to the conducting wire thickness and the amount of current it can transmit; thicker wires will transmit lower voltages and vice versa. For instance, a 20-amp extension should have a minimum of 10-gauge wire gauge, and the wire can extend up to 100 feet.  

As you change the wire gauge, the voltage capacity will likely drop. If you use a 14-gauge wire, the voltage will drop by around 2.5%; for a 12-gauge, the voltage will drop by 3.3%. The best gauge for the 20-amp extension cords should range between 10 to 12 gauges.  

You also need to consider the right cord length for connectivity. The longer the length, the higher the current loss; hence you need to minimize the cord length to avoid current loss, especially when powering high-voltage devices. If you must use longer cables, select those with O, T, and W labels since they have certain features, such as high insulation, to prevent high current loss. 

  1. Selecting the right prong for the extension cord 

Extension cords can accommodate different prong types, but some are more suitable for specific voltage capacities. Most extension cords have three-prong plugs; however, these are mostly suitable for indoor use and powering low-energy-intensive devices such as entertainment systems. Special three-prong plugs can suffice for other intense energy devices such as microwaves; however, the two-prong plug will be suitable for heavy-duty systems. Therefore, for a 20-amp extension cord, you should select a two-prong plug.  

  1. Using the extension cords safely 

A 20-amp extension cord can power different devices simultaneously; however, you should use them safely to avoid damaging the devices and the cords. First, you should not overload the extension cord to prevent short-circuiting. Whenever a device is not in use, disconnect it to avoid unnecessary energy-draw. 

When considering the devices to connect to the extension, ensure you limit the number of appliances plugged in. The devices should have less than 200 volts of energy to avoid short-circuiting the extension cord.  

You should also install other safety items to keep them safe from damage associated with the environment. You should install GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection to avoid electrical damage due to electric flows and shocks. The purpose of GFCI protection is to prevent shocks, fires, and damages from damaged wire insulation.   

You should also avoid exposing them to conditions that may damage them faster. Avoid exposing them to too much heat or water or leaving them lying outside. You should avoid using them in areas where people constantly step on them. Additionally, you should store them properly in cool and dry environments.  


You should follow various guidelines when using the extension cords, such as the voltage capacity, to avoid short-circuiting or overloading the system. Following these guidelines will help you increase the lifespan of your extension cord. Also, consider the wire length and gauge to avoid current loss. Finally, install other safety items to prevent accidents and increase their lifespan. 

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