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Extension cords #134294 10/31/02 04:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
C-H Offline OP
Hello and welcome to the ECN-show.
Tonight we talk about extension cords...

What type of extension cords are used in your country? Do you feel that they provide an acceptable level of fire safety?

Cross sectional area/wire gauge used?

Recently, $1 cords similar to the one below have shown up in Sweden. Rated 2.5A with .75 mm2 cord. Are these used in Austria and Belgium too?

[Linked Image from]

I bought one of these at IKEA some time ago. As $1 for a 10 meter extension cord sounded too good to be true and it lacked CE-mark, I couldn't resist the urge to cut it open. To my surprise, it revealed both shutters, strain relief and an otherwise acceptable design, though the wires had the thinnest sheating I've seen.

Too bad I haven't got a digital camera...

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 10-31-2002).]

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Re: Extension cords #134295 10/31/02 06:01 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
SvenNYC Offline
Our "standard" light-duty household extension cord comes in 6', 9' and 12 or 15' lengths.

It's a single-insulated length of SPT-2/16AWG zip-cord with three female receptacles at one end and one moulded polarized two-pin plug at the other.

They are all either made in China or the Phillipines and look roughly like this (photo was stolen from a Chinese manufacturer's website)

[Linked Image from]

The manufacturer's website is and the brand stamped on the cord itself is YUN.

These things are actually sold under various importers' names here in New York City variety and discount stores. YUN also makes other "budget" electrical accessories (like three-way adapters).

Back in the 1970s/early 1980s, the extensions used to be 18 AWG (equivalent to .75mm european cord)! I still have one at home in my junk bin.

Can you imagine three appliances running off a 15-foot length of .75 mm flex? Needless to say that these things caused a lot of fires and are no longer manufactured in 18-gauge versions although many are still in use (I've "confiscated" and replaced a lot of them at my relatives' :-) ).

[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 10-31-2002).]

Re: Extension cords #134296 10/31/02 07:10 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 134
David UK Offline
I knew our 13A fused plugs were useful for something, yes protecting cords.

Extension cords are available in various lengths, fused appropriately;
0.75mm: 5A fuse.
1.00mm: 10A fuse.
1.25mm: 13A fuse.
1.5mm: 13A fuse.
Some of the better ones have built-in overload cut-outs on the socket ends to prevent overloading.
Most of the extensions on sale nowadays are 10A or 13A rated.
Biggest fire risk comes from people using heavy loads on 25M cable reels without fully unwinding it.

We never see anything like that illustrated in your post, C-H.
It looks like a piece of junk.

Re: Extension cords #134297 11/01/02 01:28 AM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 177
Belgian Offline
Personally, I think that they are ok as long as you put the right plug in it. The problem starts when people try to put adapters so that they can stick in it the shucko plugs and the like.
These [Linked Image from] are less common then these, [Linked Image from] though.

[This message has been edited by Belgian (edited 11-01-2002).]

Re: Extension cords #134298 11/01/02 10:30 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,485
Texas_Ranger Offline
Same stuff available verywhere in Austria.
Other variations are the romanian 1 mm2 cord I told about earlier. "Real" extension cords are Schuko, sometimes screwed-on plug and receptacle, not molded or (worst case) just snapped together, 1.0 or 1.5 mm2 cord, correctly labelled. The ones for heavy-duty site use also have tough rubber sheathing instead of PVC. With screwed cord caps it's good to check the terminal screws of new cords though. I've encountered some that weren't tight.
When I was in America I've seen various ways to abuse such extension cords. One way is to convert it to a 6 outlet one. Take 2 of these, cut the cord somewhere in the middle, throw away one of the pieces with a plug, take the three remaining pieces, twist the wires together and warp the result with lotsa black electrical tape (REAL expert would take silver ducktape!) and voila!
Finally staple everything to the next wall.
Seen in at least one kitchen, a teacher's office at school,...
Other way I've seen: You know these (I think 6-way) adaptors that fit a duplex receptacle? Take 2 $1 extension cords, plug the tap into these 2 (ground gets lost somewhere on the way), resulting in 10 outlets. Then hook up a grounded 5-outlet extension strip to the tap. 14 outlets instead of 2 (the only ones in a 9x9 ft room). I can post a pic of that mess.

Re: Extension cords #134299 11/01/02 12:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
C-H Offline OP
I've seen cords made by Ningbo here to. This makes the "different plugs in different countries"-thing even more laughable. The plugs are all made in the same Chinese factory, and then distributed around the world. Then they sell us adaptors to convert between them...

Cable reels are required to have overheat protection. I would have thought this to be the case in Britain too?

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 11-01-2002).]

Re: Extension cords #134300 11/01/02 11:13 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,329
Trumpy Offline
Wow, that's downright dangerous, having an
extension cord (or flex, as we call them over here),without an Earth conductor,is it legal?
Over here, we use 1.0mm2 2core+Earth in our flexes, as a minimum, this is for domestic use only(This is light-duty insulation).
For any commercial area, we like to use
1.0mm2-1.5mm2, with Ordinary-grade insulation, depending on the length of run,
however, the use of flexes is discouraged,in this type of environment, where people can trip on them, we would normally install more
For Industrial sites,there is a requirement to have 1.5mm2 flexes, with Heavy-Duty insulation, this is coloured Yellow, come on to a worksite over here, with an Orange cord, and see what happens.

Re: Extension cords #134301 11/02/02 05:46 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline
Cable reels are required to have overheat protection. I would have thought this to be the case in Britain too?
No. I've seen a few cable reels with it included, but it's not very common here.

I don't think the ungrounded/unearthed extension in C-H's post is as bad as you might first think.

The socket end is designed to take only the 2.5A two-prong Euro plugs. It won't accept the grounding-type Schuko or French/Belgian plugs, nor even the two-prong 10/16A plugs. If somebody uses an adapter on it to connect such a plug, that's another matter, but we can only so far in protecting people against their own actions.

Many older American 2-wire extension cords could be used with a 3-prong plug, the ground prong just floating unconnected. The newer-style extension sockets have a wider face to prevent that.

Re: Extension cords #134302 11/03/02 06:03 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,485
Texas_Ranger Offline
The extension cord tangle I mentioned is now up on the photo discussion section.
All cable reels I've seen here (except for the small 5 or 10m types with only 2 outlets) have overheat protection.
However, they can very well be a nuisance. I bought a construction grade 50m metal reel, on which the overheat sometimes trips as soon as a 9W fluorescent is plugged in. A kick against the reel would help then. Guess I should've asked my money back.

Re: Extension cords #134303 11/03/02 01:01 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
C-H Offline OP
The cord I pictured above is a new and yet uncommon type. The standard type you will find in the supermarket still is the ungrounded type that accepts both grounded and ungrounded plugs:

[Linked Image from]

Do you find these in Belgium too?

Note: As you can see the sockets are turned 45°. This is to allow modern angled grounded plugs with cord guard to be inserted. (Like the one in Belgian's picture) If the sockets were in line, the cord from the plug in the middle socket would block one of the other sockets.

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 11-03-2002).]

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