Space heaters are convenient because they are portable and more cost-effective than traditional heating systems. They warm a room by circulating the air or generating heat. However, before you buy a space heater for the winter, you must first determine whether or not you have enough wall outlets in your home to power the appliance. As you will soon see, extension cords are not a good idea.
Can You Plug A Space Heater Into Extension Cord?
You cannot pair space heaters with extension cords without exposing your home to unnecessary danger. The considerable volume of electricity space heaters consume can overwhelm extension cords. If multiple devices are plugged into the extension cord, you could also overload the wall outlet, melting the insulation, causing a short circuit, and starting a fire.
Many fires start because an extension cord overloaded after a homeowner used the device to operate a space heater. Surge protectors and power strips are just as problematic.
It is not safe. If things go wrong, you may burn your house down or destroy the space heater.
Why Shouldn’t You Plug A Space Heater Into Extension Cord?
You have to plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. They have strong power cords that can withstand the strain of transmitting the significant volumes of electric current space heaters need. Extension cords and power strips are not sufficient. These are just a few of the challenges you will face:
People use space heaters to stay warm during the winter when temperatures drop. But space heaters use heating elements that can achieve temperatures of 600 degrees F.
A conventional circuit can handle that load. The same cannot be said for extension cords and power strips.
Space heaters are responsible for over 25,000 fires.
An extension cord is a tripping hazard. A lot of them are long. People and pets can trip over the cord. In doing so, they will either pull the heater to the ground or force the power cord out of the outlet. In both cases, you may harm the space heater.
3). Resistance & Overheating
Under normal circumstances, a space heater’s power cord is long enough to reach a wall outlet. You can run the appliance without relying on an extension cord. Plugging the device into an extension cord will increase the distance the current has to travel.
This makes extension cords less efficient because it elevates the resistance, which, in turn, increases the voltage drop. An increase in the voltage drop reduces the amount of electricity reaching the space heater.
This can cause overheating because, depending on your model, the space heater may attempt to compensate for the voltage drop by pulling more electricity.
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How To Use Space Heater With Extension Cord?
People use extension cords, not because they are stupid, but because they don’t have a choice. If the nearest wall outlet is still too far from your space heater, and your only option is to use an extension cord, the following steps will mitigate the risks associated with this practice:
1). Limit The Amount Of Power Space Heater Uses
Space heaters are dangerous because they use a lot of power. But some space heaters have mechanisms that enable them to switch between 750 watts and 1500 watts. In other words, depending on the situation, you can limit the amount of power the space heater uses.
If your space heater has this feature, keep it at the 750W setting to prevent the appliance from overlading the extension cord.
Try to limit your purchases to modern space heaters. Older models are dangerous because they have open elements. The current versions are more efficient. They have functions that shut the space heater off when a malfunction occurs.
2). Use A Heavy Duty Extension Cord
Use a heavy-duty extension cord that can carry the incredible volume of electricity, space heaters use. Heavy-duty extension cords have thick cables. They can transmit large amounts of electrical current without overheating. The thicker the extension cord, the better.
3). Place The Space Heater On A Smooth, Flat Surface
Please keep it away from curtains, mattresses, and any other flammable fabrics. You should also position the device as far from water sources as possible. That means steering clear of bathrooms and kitchens. Even if the space heater is plugged into a wall outlet, introducing water to the appliance can cause a short circuit.
4). Observe Your Extension Cord Quite Frequently
I don’t want you to leave space heaters unattended because a pet or child can easily knock the device over, bringing the space heater into contact with flammable fabrics.
A space heater you plugged into an extension cord requires even more attention. If the extension cord has a small gauge, it will eventually become too hot for you to touch with your bare hands.
Once you observe this sign, you can unplug the space heater immediately to prevent the overloaded extension cord from catching fire. But that is only possible if you keep a close eye on the space heater. You don’t want the space heater to overload the extension cord when you’re not watching.
5). Check The Instructions
What did the manufacturer say about the space heater? If the manual has prohibited you from using an extension cord, you should listen.
What Gauge Extension Cord Is Best For Space Heater?
To run a space heater, you need to use medium or heavy-duty extension cords ranging from 14 to 10AWG.
Every extension cord has a gauge. The gauge tells you the thickness of the cord. If you don’t want the extension cord to catch fire, you must secure the thickest cord possible.
The thickest cords have the smallest numbers.
They also feature physically imposing construction. The thinnest cords have the largest numbers. They stand out because of how small and unimpressive they look.
Don’t judge extension cords by their appearance.
Some extension cords have a low gauge, but they look thick because the manufacturers want people to think that the devices are thicker than their actual gauge suggests.
Look at the numbers written on the extension cord. You should also prioritize extension cords with grounded plugs. Grounded plugs have three prongs. They provide additional protection from electrocution in the event of a malfunction in the space heater.
The third prong creates a path that diverts the excess current to the ground. Two-prong plugs do not offer this protection.
Best Extension Cord For Space Heater
If you want to reduce the chances of a space heater overloading an extension cord, you must get the best extension cord for a space heater. Some decent options include:
1). US Wire and cable 99050
This is a heavy-duty item that can accommodate 15 amps. The thermoplastic elastomer used in the extension cord’s construction contributes to the product’s flexibility. The TPE jacket allows the extension cord to resist extreme weather and temperatures.
The lighted plugs are not a cosmetic component. The glow allows you to see the plugs at night.
You can get the extension cord in gauges ranging from 16 to 10.
2). US Wire and Cable 74050
This yellow double-insulated extension cord doesn’t crack or break because the outer jacket is formulated SJTW vinyl. It can withstand temperatures of -35 degrees F.
Boasting a rating of 15A, 125V/ 1875W, the product has lighted plugs. They glow when you connect the extension cord to a power source. The yellow color makes the extension cord easier to spot.
The available gauges range from 16 to 10.
3). Southwire 1638SW0061
This extension has a robust jacket that can withstand frigid temperatures. The bright blue color isn’t an accident. It makes the extension cord easier to locate.
UL and CUL listed, the item uses lighted ends. The jacket resists chemicals and oil. It can also defend against moisture, sunlight, and abrasion.
The extension cord has a gauge of 12.
4). Cable Matters Heavy-Duty Extension Cord
This 3-prong extension cord can run everything from speakers and computers to laser printers and projectors. The gauge is only 16, which tells you that the extension cord should run weaker space heaters with moderate electrical requirements.
The cord is sturdy yet flexible. Expect a NEMA 15-5-P grounded plug, 3-pin NEMA 5-15R connector, and a 13A/1625W rating.
Can You Plug A Space Heater Into A Power Strip?
A space heater draws too much power, and power strips are even weaker than extension cords. The power strip will overheat, starting a fire. This is more likely to happen in situations where a power strip is running a space heater along with other items. Thus, you can’t plug a space heater into a power strip.
Power strips can’t withstand the current a space heater uses.
I suggest you plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. If the space heater is connected to the wall outlet, make sure it is the only electrical device on that wall outlet. Otherwise, you run the risk of overloading the outlet.
If you want to use a power strip, get the thickest power strip you can find. Don’t cover the cord of the power strip. Some people run power strips under carpets to keep them out of sight. But the absence of proper ventilation increases a power strip’s chances of overheating.