Can Extension Cords Be Left Outside? (Explained)

You can leave some types of extension cords outside but not others, and there are certain guidelines you need to follow if you want to keep things safe and running smoothly.

Here’s everything you need to know about leaving your extension cords outside.

In this article, we’ll answer all the questions you might have so you can make an informed decision about where to store your extension cords this season.

Here’s If You Can Leave an Extension Cord Outside:

It depends on the extension cord. There are a few different types of extension cords, and each one has its own properties and limitations. For example, some are designed to be left outside all year long, while others can only be used for temporary use.

Can You Use Indoor Extension Cords Outside?

The short answer is no, but there are some important exceptions.

The main reason for this is that extension cords are designed for indoor use. They have plastic casings and connectors that won’t stand up to outdoor conditions. And they can be dangerous if exposed to moisture or sunlight.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be used outside temporarily, but they need to be treated with respect and care.

You should never leave an extension cord outside if it’s raining or snowing, and you should take care not to expose them to direct sunlight or other weather conditions that could damage the cords’ insulation or connections.

The most common type of extension cord is the kind you can use indoors. These cords are usually made with a thin rubber coat that makes them water resistant and durable.

However, they are not designed to be left outdoors, exposed to the elements.

If you need an extension cord for outdoor use, look for one with a cover made of plastic or vinyl. This will help prevent water damage to your cord and ensure that it lasts longer.

Before using an extension cord outside, make sure you know how long it is by measuring its length in feet or meters. You’ll also want to check the gauge of your extension cord — this refers to the thickness of its wires and indicates how much power it can handle.

A thicker gauge means more current can flow through it and will allow more devices to be plugged into one outlet at once without tripping a circuit breaker or blowing a fuse in your home’s electrical system.

Do Extension Cords Go Bad When Left Outside?

Extension cords can go bad when left outside and they can become damaged by the elements if they are not protected properly.

You should always store them in a dry place when they are not being used so they don’t get damaged by moisture or other contaminants that could cause them to short out or start a fire.

The other biggest factor in determining whether or not an extension cord will go bad if left outside is the quality of the cord.

If you have a cheap extension cord, then there’s no reason to think it would last long in bad weather. However, there are ways to extend the life of your extension cords so they’ll last longer outside.

A well-made extension cord is durable and can withstand most weather conditions. You may think that leaving an extension cord outside will damage it, but this isn’t necessarily true if it’s kept dry and not exposed to extreme heat or cold.

Do You Need A GFCI Outlet For An Outdoor Extension Cord?

No, you don’t need a GFCI outlet on your outdoor extension cord because they’re intended for indoor use only.

The main purpose of this outlet is to prevent shock hazard if someone comes into contact with exposed parts inside the outlet.

The GFCIs don’t provide any protection from electric shock if the cord is used outdoors because water and moisture can get inside those exposed parts.

Read our blog here about should you unplug extension cord when not in use?

Can You Run an Extension Cord Outside in the Winter?

Yes, you can run an extension cord outside in the winter but only if it is rated for outdoor use and if you put it away after each use so it doesn’t get damaged by moisture or other contaminants that could cause it to short out or start a fire.

It may also be necessary to insulate any exposed wires with electrical tape so they don’t freeze during cold weather conditions.

To determine whether you should let the cord stay outdoors, consider these factors:

  • The length of the extension cord. The longer an extension cord is, the more likely it is to develop problems with heat, moisture and abrasion. If you’re working with a long cord indoors or outdoors, keep it as short as possible at all times.
  • The type of extension cord. A light-duty extension cord should never be used outdoors under any circumstances — even if it’s dry outside. These cords are designed for indoor use only and don’t have the insulation necessary for outdoor use.
  • A heavy-duty outdoor extension cord should be used when absolutely necessary with heavy duty equipment. Heavy-duty cords can handle more current than light-duty cords but are also more expensive and heavier than light-duty cords.

Is It Ok to Leave Extension Cords in Rain and Snow?

Extension cords shouldn’t be left exposed to rain or snow for extended periods of time — the moisture can cause corrosion and rusting on the metal parts of the cord.

If possible, store your extension cords inside during bad weather conditions. If that isn’t possible, try covering them with plastic bags or moving them out of direct contact with precipitation as much as possible.

It’s important to understand what happens when you leave an extension cord out in the elements. When you expose an extension cord to moisture, there are two things that can happen: corrosion and oxidation.

Corrosion occurs when materials in the cord become damaged by exposure to water or moisture, often resulting in rusting or pitting on metal surfaces.

Oxidation occurs when materials react with oxygen in the air and form an oxide layer over their surface. This is what causes copper wires to turn green after a long period of exposure to the elements (the green color comes from copper oxide).

Both corrosion and oxidation can be bad news if they occur inside your home, where they can disrupt electrical signals and cause fires or other power failures. But they’re even worse if they occur outside your home because they could affect your ability to use the extension cord at all.

How to Tell If Extension Cord Can Be Used Outside?

Extension cords that have a rubber outer shell should never be left outside because they can degrade over time due to UV exposure from the sun.

These include some indoor/outdoor extension cords as well as those with rubber insulation along their entire length.

These types of extension cords are designed for indoor use only because they’re not waterproof or UV resistant enough for outdoor use.

Extension cords that can be left outside include those made of metal or plastic-coated wire with no rubber insulation at all (including electric fencing).

They should be fully dried after each use before being stored away again so that water doesn’t collect inside them and cause rusting over time.

Some types of extension cords can be left outside, while others should never be exposed to the elements.

Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of extension cords and what they’re made for:

  • Indoor Use Only — These are lightweight extension cords that are designed for indoor use only. They usually have a small gauge wire (the thickness of the wire) which makes them better suited for indoor use where there will likely not be much movement or weight-bearing.
  • Outdoor Use Only — These are heavy-duty extension cords that are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions as well as heavy usage. They’re thicker and more rugged than indoor-only cords, but they’re also heavier and more expensive.
  • Indoor/Outdoor — These are multi-purpose extension cords that can be used both indoors and outdoors (but not necessarily in wet areas). They’re usually equipped with several outlets so you can connect multiple devices at once without having to unplug one device just so you can plug another in.


Yes, according to the National Fire Protection Association, you can safely leave an extension cord outside. But as with anything in life, there are caveats to that statement.

It isn’t quite as simple as uncoiling it, plugging it in, and forgetting about it. To ensure that your external cords keep you safe and all of your devices running smoothly, take some time to consider the following suggestions above.

Read this blog of ours about 13 things you should not plug into an extension cord.


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