outlet cord
Photo: Nicholas Eveleigh
Outlets Throughout

With three receptacles spaced evenly along its 25-foot length, this 14-gauge vinyl-jacketed cord makes it easy to distribute power to walkway lights or holiday displays.
About $27; Improvements

What You'll Learn

  1. Introduction
  2. Decoding The Cord
Whether you're dusting off the heirloom ornaments to bring in the yuletide cheer or breaking out the light-up chili pepper garland for this summer's backyard fiesta, consider leaving your old extension cords in the bottom of the box. Those ratty brown wires with their cracked jackets and nonpolarized prongs may have helped you string lights from gutter to gutter for 20 years now, but you're lucky they haven't set the roof ablaze. Old cords cause about 3,300 residential fires a year, usually because they're damaged or overloaded.

New cords, though, are made tough, with outer jackets durable enough to resist water, wear, and cold weather. The best ones bear the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal and use 16-gauge wire or thicker. (The smaller the gauge number, the bigger the wire.) Fat 14-gauge cords can feed such hungry amp-eaters as circular saws and leaf blowers, up to 50 feet from the receptacle.

So, before you even think about blowing up that inflatable Santa— or mixing that batch of margaritas—get yourself one of these cords:

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