Extension cords allow us to connect and power our devices when there the power outlet is too far away to reach them. This conveniently allows us to connect more devices in a room, but what are the safety concerns, and should you unplug extension cords when you’re not using them?
In this article, you can discover whether or not your extension cord should be unplugged and when.
Here’s If Extension Cords Should Be Unplugged When Not In Use:
When you’re not using the extension cord, it’s best to unplug it. The reason for this is to prevent any possible shock or damage to the cord. Unplugging the cord will also prevent any possible fire. And this will eliminate any chance of someone tripping over it.
Is It Recommended To Unplug Extension Cords At Night?
Connecting electrical devices to an extension cord overnight should be safe as long as the cord is being used in the correct way.
However, some people would prefer not to leave extension cords unattended overnight.
This is because keeping them plugged in overnight does mean there is a potential risk of fire due to overloading or overheating.
This can happen at the plug socket or at any point on the wire when the extension cord is consuming more wattage than it is able to.
If an individual is asleep when a fire starts, it can be incredibly dangerous since their evacuation time is severely hampered.
Yet, with that being said, extension cords pose a slight fire hazard risk when plugged in at any time – not just at night.
Below are some useful tips on how to reduce any fire risks when using an extension cord.
Extension cords should be safe plugged in as long as you:
- Ensure the extension cord is properly rated in terms of the electrical device you are plugging into it.
- Never overload your extension cord beyond its capacity.
- Its rating will be on the label attached to the wire, or on the original packaging the cord was purchased in.
- Always check all aspects of the cord and plug for any signs of visible damage before use. (e.g. loose wires, melted areas, or kinks).
- Never use an extension cord outside or even partially outside unless it is advertised as suitable to do so.
- Make sure the cord isn’t covered by any combustible material, for example, clothes, carpets etc.
- Never cut and edit the cord length to suit your needs.
It is recommended you ALWAYS unplug an extension cord when not in use.
Whether any devices are plugged into the cord or not, it is still connected to electricity and has the ability to short; posing a potential for fires to break out.
Do Extension Cords Use Power When Nothing Is Plugged In?
Energy conservation has never been more prevalent than in today’s world.
Whether it’s helping to protect the environment, or helping reduce your bills, it’s important to know when energy is being unnecessarily wasted.
We are aware that certain electrical devices waste energy when they are left plugged in such as:
- Washer dryers
- Toasters etc.
However, this is not usually the case when it comes to extension cords, though there may be certain exceptions.
There are several types of extension cords, the most commonly used being:
When it comes to owning extension cords, the majority of people own medium-duty ones.
This type of extension cord does NOT consume energy by itself, it is used only as a means to distribute power to another device.
With nothing plugged in, no energy is consumed.
Indeed, the electrical device can waste energy when plugged into the extension cord (even when said device is switched off) but the actual cord cannot.
Similarly with heavy-duty extension cords, when nothing is connected to them, they cannot consume and waste any energy.
This is great news in terms of your carbon footprint and reducing energy consumption, but it is still never recommended to leave an extension cord plugged in that is not in use as already previously mentioned in this article.
Read our other article here about should you unplug computers when not in use?
Is It Safe To Keep Extension Cords Plugged In Permanently?
However useful extension cords are, keeping them running permanently is definitely not recommended; they are designed as temporary wiring solutions when you cannot source adequate power for your electrical device.
It is always recommended to seek permanent wiring if you are using extension cords for more than 90 days consecutively.
As they are not designed for permanent use, they have the ability to become worn out and damaged over time.
This can both severely damage the electrical devices you have plugged into the extension cord and considerably increase the risk of fires due to voltage fluctuations.
- Always remember to replace your extension cord once it has exceeded its warranty.
Below are the most common risks associated with the permanent use of extension cords and the reasons why they should be avoided.
- Trip Hazards.
- This commonly overlooked risk can have the potential to be fatal.
- When people contemplate the risks associated with using extension cords permanently, the fact that they are a dangerous trip hazard is often dismissed as not being overly serious.
- This is a big mistake. There are reasons as to why our buildings have wiring installed in the walls – it keeps them safely out of the way.
- If you have wiring constantly all over the floor people can fall, which can result in serious injury- and in even unluckier scenarios, death.
- Extension cords that are permanently used are even more likely to end up being covered by combustible materials, which can result in increased temperatures
- If certain materials overheat it can cause a fire.
- Damage To The Cord.
- Extension cords are actually quite easy to damage.
- With constant footfall or maneuvering of heavy devices and furniture, the cord can be subject to wear and tear.
- If an extension cord is left out for long periods of time it can be easily forgotten about and maybe even exposed to water damage.
- A damaged cord means an increased risk of electrocution and fires, both of which are serious threats to an individual’s health and safety.
- When people are not aware of the capacity of the extension cord they are using, they can be easily overloaded.
- Heavy-duty appliances such as ovens or washers should never be used without the appropriate extension cord, but unfortunately, some members of the public are not aware of this.
Do Extension Cords Wear Faster When Plugged In All The Time?
Leaving an extension cord plugged in when not in use is never recommended.
Although they do not consume electricity, as mentioned previously, they are still connected to electricity.
This can lead to risks of excessive heat and potential damage to the cord, meaning you’ll have to get a replacement much quicker than if you were to safely store it.
In regards to the risk of fire, it is just not worth it.
When there are so many ways to safely and effectively store your extension cord, such as using velcro straps or spools, leaving it plugged in is definitely not an appropriate way to do so.
Having an extension cord plugged in all the time also just increases the chance that you or members of your household will use it more often and at times when it is not appropriate.
Read more in our blog here about is it better to unplug or switch off?
- State Farm: Extension Cord Safety: What To Do And What To Avoid
- CPSC: Household Extension Cords Can Cause Fires
- E-How: Does A Plugged-In Extension Cord Waste Energy?
- Portable Powerguides: Can Extension Cords Be Used Permanently?