Electricity usage in the US varies depending on the region and specific usage habits. On average, houses in the Northeastern portion of the US use the least electricity every year compared to other regions. In contrast, single-family detached homes in the South use the most electricity. Southern homes tend to consume more electricity because electric heating and air conditioning are very widely used in these households.
Another widely used piece of electrical equipment in residences (regardless of the region) is the extension cord. Extension cords are electrical power cords with mating plugs/connectors on each end. The length and color of extension cords also vary. They can be as short as two feet or as long as a hundred feet, and have one or more connectors. Extension cords are especially useful for Christmas lights, in the garden, in supplementary heating and in the external operation of grills and corded power tools.
Here are three facts that everyone should know about extension cords:
Both extension cords and surge protectors have seen a great deal more use since personal computers came on the scene. Contrary to popular belief however, extension cords and surge protectors are quite different. Here, the confusion may lie in the fact that many extension cords and surge protectors have multiple connectors (outlets). While extension cords are essential when moving an electrical or electronic device to a location where outlets are scarce, surge protectors help to keep equipment safe when it’s plugged in. An extension cord connects to a wall outlet, provides extra cord length and may have several connectors. In contrast, a surge protector includes built-in electronics that help prevent equipment damage by power surges. Some surge protectors also have integral extension cords and multiple connectors for convenience.
Outdoor extension cords are built for use even in adverse weather conditions such as rain and snowstorms. Outdoor extension cords are better insulated than their indoor counterparts, so extreme temperature variations do not present problems. In contrast, indoor extension cords are incredibly lightweight and prone to weathering and water damage. Additionally, they tend to deteriorate over time when used outdoors. Thus, when indoor extension cords are used outdoors, they can put users at the risk of a fire accident or electric shock.
In order to ensure safety and smooth operation when using an extension cord, the amp (amperage) rating of the cord must be greater than the amp rating of an electrical appliance. The amp ratings of extension cords are listed on their packaging and are determined by the wire diameter and length. The greater the wire diameter, the higher the amp rating will be for cables of the same length. The amp rating of shorter wires is usually high, while the amp rating of longer wires is generally low.
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