Sometimes, it’s so cold during winters that layering woolen garments isn’t enough. Excessively low temperatures make us feel uncomfortable and a lot of people tend to fall sick. A space heater can provide you with the much-needed warmth during such times.
Space heaters are advanced devices that have replaced traditional heating systems. They are cost-effective and portable.
If you have decided to buy a space heater for your house, you must first ensure that there are enough wall outlets to power your device. A lot of times homeowners do not have sufficient wall outlets and therefore find it tough to use the appliance where they want to.
If you too have the same problem, we would advise you to install a wall outlet before buying a space heater . However, if you are looking for a temporary solution to your problem, you can use an extension cord. Though this solution comes with a lot of risks, here’s everything you need to know about using a space heater extension cord.
When you plug a space heater into an extension cord, give special attention to the safety measures. We have enlisted some important safety tips that homeowners must take care of.
Can I Plug My Space Heater Into An Extension Cord?
Yes, you can plug a space heater into an extension cord. However, using any ordinary extension cord for this purpose exposes your home to unwanted risks. Therefore, it’s important to choose the ideal extension cord that’s specifically built to power such heavy-duty appliances.
Experts advise homeowners to buy a heavy-duty extension cord to power a space heater because these appliances consume high amounts of electricity, which ordinary cords fail to supply or handle.
If multiple devices are plugged into the extension cord, the risks increase. The cord might melt, causing a short circuit or starting a fire. Therefore, one must be extra careful while using an extension cord to power a space heater.
Ideally, homeowners must plug space heaters directly into the wall outlet. They have durable power cords that can withstand the high amount of current that these appliances demand. Ordinary extension cords aren’t sufficient.
What Happens When You Plug A space Heater With An Extension Cord?
If you choose the wrong extension cord to power your space heater, a lot of dangerous mishaps can take place. Below are some of the common dangers associated with plugging a space heater into an ordinary extension cord.
Ordinary extension cords fail to handle high current
Since ordinary extension cords aren’t designed specifically to handle high flow of current, they tend to get overheated and the insulation melts, which increases the chances of a fire hazard.
If yours is a medium-sized space heater, it would require about 1500 watts and 12.5 amps. Ordinary extension cords can’t handle this requirement. Usually, they are rated around 10 amps, which is quite less than what a space heater demands.
Therefore clearly the ordinary extension cord fails to handle the high flow of electricity, heating the insulation in due process, which is extremely dangerous.
Someone can trip over long cable
Needless to say, using a long cord increases the chances of accidents in the house. Someone in a hurry can easily trip over it and hurt oneself. Extension cords are a big no if you have kids or pets at home.
Your space heater can also fall over and get damaged
If someone trips over the extension cord, the space heater can also fall down. If that happens, the appliance would definitely get damaged, perhaps its functioning might be disturbed. If the heater is red hot, it can even melt or burn anything.
Modern-day space heaters are much advanced. Many of them come with tip-over protection that shuts off the device when it tips over. But, as long as the heater is hot, it can melt or burn almost anything on which it falls.
If you have an older heater, you need to be extra careful. Older heaters do not shut off. When they fall over the carpet or any other surface, they leave black stained marks, which are hard to get rid of.
Extension cords lower the efficiency
The purpose of using space heaters is this: attain maximum heat at the least cost. Therefore, effectiveness is really important.
Heaters demand a strong power source that can supply them with huge amounts of current.
Now, if there’s a long extension cord standing between the wall plug and the space heater, automatically the resistance for the current flowing through the cord would increase, thus lowering the effectiveness.
As a result, extension cords increase your electricity bills in the long run.
We have discussed some of the dangerous results associated with using the wrong extension cord. You must be wondering if at all it’s safe to use an extension cord to power a space heater. Continue to read below to find out your answer.
Is It Safe To Plug the Space Heater Into An Extension Cord?
No, it’s not safe to use an ordinary extension cord to use your space heater. Most extension cords aren’t well designed to handle the high flow of current that a space heater demands. Especially, the low-quality, small extension cords are likely to catch fire, if they are made to power a space heater. Therefore, do not consider it as an option ever.
Have you ever heard of a house catching fire? If you inquire about them in detail, you would find that half of them were caused by running heaters on poor extension cords. The space heaters were kept close to furniture items or clothing, etc. and when the cord overheated, the items in the vicinity caught fire.
If in case you have to use an extension cord, and there’s no other option left, you must use a heavy-duty extension cord, built to handle the high flow of electricity that a space heater demands. Also, ensure that you run your space heater in between 750 W to 1500 W while using an extension cord.
Safety Tips: Things To Keep In Mind While Using An Extension Cord
Though an extension cord isn’t recommended for powering a space heater, if you are still using one, you must follow some safety tips to ensure the safety of the gadget and your safety. We have enlisted some of the important safety tips below:
- Choose an extension cord of the right gauge. Prefer to buy an extension cord of lower gauges (10-12). Thick heavy duty wires have a low AWG rating.
- A lot of times, a fire hazard breaks out because people use a damaged extension cord. Do not make the same mistake. While using an extension cord for a space heater, inspect the condition of the cord. See if there are any tears, cuts or scratches or burn marks.
- Don’t keep the extension cord in areas where people come and go. They may fall or step on the cord. If the cord is frayed or damaged at any place, people are likely to receive shocks.
- Make sure you do not overload your extension cord.
- Also, make sure to not run extension cords through walls, floors, doorways or ceilings. If the cord is covered, the heat will fail to escape and this might cause a fire to break out.
- If you are using an extension cord to power your space heater, do not plug any other device at the same time. Make it a point to power one appliance at one time to avoid overheating.
- Homeowners are advised to install more wall outlets so that they do not have to depend on extension cords to use electrical appliances.
- Always ensure that the extension cord for your space heater has the required rating that’s necessary. Also check if the extension cord is suitable for outdoor or indoor use.
- The space heater you are using has a wattage rating marked on its body. Make sure this rating is equivalent to the rating of the extension cord you buy. It’s important. Do not use an extension cord with a lower wattage rating than that of the device.
- Never use an extension cord that’s damaged. Even if a single strand is exposed, it can give severe electric shocks.
- Always use a grounded extension cord for a space heater. The ground pin is extremely important to ensure everyone’s safety. Cutting off the ground pin increases chances of electrocution. Always install three-prong plugs and do not force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
The Bottom Line
By now you must have realized why experts advise homeowners not to use an extension cord. It’s just too risky. To ensure safety of the appliance and the members of your house, install a separate wall outlet for the space heater and plug the device directly into the wall circuit whenever you intend to use it. Unlike extension cords, these wall outlets can handle a higher wattage. However, make sure to plug only one appliance at one time.
As per the government report, electric heaters were involved in approximately 1,200 fire cases per year. Therefore, we urge everyone to be extra careful. It never hurts to take extra measures, especially if it’s for your own good.
However, if you are left with no other option, you must use a space heater extension cord that meets the safety requirements. Make sure its wattage rating matches to that of the space heater. Also, check if it’s grounded and the number of gauges it has. Try to limit the power demand of your space heater to 750W or 1000W for extra safety.