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#212547 01/21/14 07:16 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 2
SamTech Offline OP
New Member
Greetings Electricians,
I am a computer tech in the S.F. Bay Area.
A customer of mine has been convinced by a local electrical contractor that extension cords should NEVER be used anywhere in her house.

This has led to some inconvenient moving of furniture just to get a lamp or stereo receiver close enough to an outlet to avoid an extension cord.
I understand why you wouldn't want to do dumb things with extension cords - like connect a microwave or fridge with a $3 ungrounded cord.
But recommending none, nowhere, never? Does that make any sense to you?

Thanks - Sam

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
I suppose that this issue had to arise, sooner or later.

Extension cords, strictly speaking, are not forbidden. A properly sized cord is perfectly proper way to temporarily bring power to where you need it.

The key word here is 'temporarily.'

The code has rules for the placement of receptacles. Unfortunately, these rules are often used improperly as a 'design guide.' as a way for the contractor to do as little as possible, yet still 'meet code.' As a direct result, receptacle are often very poorly placed - at least, poorly placed for nearly ever occupant.

It's very rare for a homeowner to have any say where the receptacles will be placed; the tenant never has a say.

So, there are millions of extension cords bought every year. I suspect that the vast majority of them are less than six feet long. These are plugged in and left in place - for years at a time. When you move, the new occupant will probably buy an identical cord to use exactly as you did.

IMO, simple code compliance is no substitute for good design. Yet, that's not the way the world works. The simple reality is that cords are here to stay- and no parsing of the code book will change that.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,288
Likes: 4
The 'reasoning' fot the NEC required spacing is to avoid extension cords. Most lamps & appliances are equipped with a 6' factory cord, which theoreticaly provides a receptacle that 'should' be within reach.

Take an 'older' home....built before the 'spacing', some have only two receptacles per room.

BTW, welcome to ECN

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,677
Likes: 9
The huge loophole in the extension cord rule is a surge protecting plug strip with a breaker.

That usually even passes muster with the fire marshal if you are not egregiously abusing the rule.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 2
SamTech Offline OP
New Member
Thanks all of you - Greg - I especially appreciate the point about the surge protector with breaker.
All of the computer gear is plugged in with two of those - each one plugged into an outlet (not daisy-chained)

So I will just recommend the surge-protector solution for the other locations.


Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,288
Likes: 4

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 3
New Member
Originally Posted by SamTech
So I will just recommend the surge-protector solution for the other locations.
A much safer alternative is a power strip without surge protector parts. Adding those tiny protector parts has a history of causing house fires. A problem so serious in some power strips that, well, everyone should be aware of an APC warning last Oct of some protector strips that should be removed immediately. The problem exists with all power strip surge protectors. Some are more dangerous than others. Safest power strips have that 15 amps breaker, a UL listing, and no protectors parts that are the reason for fires.

Last edited by westom; 01/24/14 07:36 PM.

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