- From temporary uses like hanging lights during the holidays or powering tools for a home repair project, to more permanent applications like connecting a floor lamp to that outlet hidden behind the couch, extension cords are a must-have for modern life
- The Coleman 16 Gauge Extension Cord is our top choice because it’s durable, flexible, and suitable for just about every application in and around the home.
Extension cords aren’t glamorous. They aren’t interesting or exciting, and you probably don’t spend much time thinking about them in the course of any given day. But when you need an extension cord – whether to power a leaf blower or saw, to light up the trees and roofline of your property with thousands of festive lights, or to connect the television to an outlet across the room – having the right extension cord is the difference between a quick and easy solution and serious bout of frustration.
The good news is that most well-made extension cords will last for years and years. When considering which is the best extension cord for your needs, think about where you will use it (inside at home, inside at work, outside in a static placement, or outside moving around during use), when you will use it (for winter holiday lights, fall leaf blowing, or summer weed trimming, e.g.) and what devices will be connected to the cord (how many amps does that skill saw need for ideal performance, again?). Read on to read more about the best extension cords.
Here are the best extension cords you can buy:
- Best extension cord overall: Coleman 16 Gauge Extension Cord
- Best budget extension cord: AmazonBasics Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord
- Best extension cord for offices: HOLSEM Power Strip Extension Cord
- Best professional extension cord: Watt’s Wire 14 Gauge Extension Cord
- Best indoor extension cord: Aurum Cables Extension Cord
Updated on 10/31/2019 by Monica Chin: Updated pricing, links, and formatting.
The best extension cord overall
The Coleman 16 Gauge Extension Cord is affordable, reliable, and quite long, too. It delivers 1,250 watts of power 100 feet away from the outlet.
If you’re only going to buy one extension cord to help out with everything from running a vacuum inside to running a saw outside to connecting outdoor decorations or speaker equipment to serving as a semi-permanent lighting solution in a garage or workshop, you won’t go wrong with this 100-foot cord from Coleman Cable.
This extension cord features water-resistant blades, a moisture, sunlight, and abrasion resistant exterior, and it comes in the classic high-visibility orange, so it’s a great choice for outdoor use even in inclement weather conditions. Thanks to the cord’s flexibility, it can also be used inside, run along or underneath furniture with the excess length coiled out of the way. Its PVC jacket is non-marking, so it won’t leave scuffs on walls, flooring, or furniture.
For the record, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a decent 100-foot extension cord for a better price.
Pros: Great price for long cord, water and weather resistant, flexible at most temperatures
Cons: Not suitable for larger power tools, heats up with heavy use
The best budget extension cord
It’s bright orange, it’s 50 feet long, and it’s rated for 13 amps. But most importantly it’s just 17 bucks. It’s the AmazonBasics Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord.
The AmazonBasics Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord is a best seller primarily for one obvious reason: It’s cheap. But I say that not in a pejorative sense, for this cord is cheap in price only. It’s actually reasonably well made. Its low cost is due to the juggernaut power that is Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.
This 50-foot AmazonBasics extension cord features 16-gauge all-copper three-wire components and it can handle an impressive 13-amp, 1625-watt power load. (Quick primer: amps are like the volume of electricity, volts are like the pressure under which the energy is transmitted, and watts are essentially the actual power output; greatly simplified, you can think of it like AMPS x VOLTS = WATTS. But some professional electricians and engineers will probably choke on their coffee when they read that.)
The cord is durable enough for long-term outdoor use in all weather conditions and coils up small enough for easy storage when you don’t need it.
Pros: Great low price, good power load capacity, high visibility orange
Cons: Thin insulation, tends to tangle easily
The best extension cord for offices
The HOLSEM 12 Outlet 3 USB Power Strip Extension Cord can accommodate more plugs than you’ll need.
The HOLSEM 12 Outlet 3 USB Power Strip Extension Cord is a purpose-built piece of hardware. Whereas most extension cords are designed to be used in the yard, in the home, in the shop, and so forth, this unit was designed for use in the office or the computer lab where computers, printers, and other such technology is critical for daily operations.
The heavy-duty UL listed extension cord is six feet long, an ideal length to stretch from a wall outlet to beneath a table or at the intersection of a bank of desks, cubicles, or other workstations. And from there, you can connect devices aplenty.
The true genius of this extension cord/power strip isn’t its plethora of outlets, but their placement. It features a row of six outlets perfect for standard two- or three-pronged plugs. But it also has six outlets that are spaced well apart from one another. The outlets can accommodate large, bulky plugs with built-in surge protectors or irregular plugs, such as those with a right angle orientation to the prongs and cord. Thanks to the three USB slots at the base of the unit, the total number of devices that be connected to this plucky power strip is fifteen.
For the record, if you try to operate 12 table saws using this extension cord/power strip, you’re going to have a bad time. But 12 computers? No problems there.
Pros: Impressive number of outlets, excellent surge protection, also features USB ports
Cons: Extension cord too short for some applications
The best professional-grade extension cord
- Watt’s Wire
If you need to deliver power to some serious hardware in trying conditions, then you can count on the rugged reliability of the Watt’s Wire 14 Gauge Heavy Duty SJTW Lighted Triple Extension Cord.
The Watt’s Wire extension cord is fabricated using 14-gauge wire wrapped in SJTW thermoplastic coating. Its rated for use in temperature conditions ranging from -40° to 130° Fahrenheit – If you need a cord that can handle temperatures colder or hotter than that amazing 170-degree range, then you should probably rethink your career choices.
This professional-grade extension cord meets or exceeds all OSHA standard for indoor or outdoor use, and can safely power as many as three large tools, lights, or other devices at the same time. Its triple “pigtails” multi-tap design allows you connect even big, bulky plugs with surge protectors one right next to the other.
In case you are working outside at night or in low lighting conditions inside, the tap even glows thanks to a built-in bulb.
Just note that many power tools designed for landscaping use a guarded male end plug and can’t be attached to the multi-tap without a connector cord.
Pros: Heavy duty choice, multiple taps, lighted connection
Cons: Rather expensive, won’t work with some landscaping tools
The best indoor extension cord
Unlike so many flimsy, short-lived indoor extension cords, the Aurum Cables 16/3 AWG Outdoor/Indoor Extension Cord actually works well and lasts for years.
The Aurum cord is technically an indoor/outdoor extension cord, yet I’m recommending it primarily for indoor use. In that capacity, it should last you for years and years, even if subjected to the occasional snag, spill, vacuum encounter, or even the nippy pet. As it was designed to withstand the elements outside, it’s more than durable enough for the jungle that is the interior of the modern home.
The Aurum Cables extension cord’s flat plug design allows it to connect to any standard wall socket without protruding way into the room, allowing furniture to rest all but flush with the wall. The plug extends off the outlet only as far as a piece of molding, having no appreciable effect on the placement of that couch, desk, or dresser.
With a tap capable of accepting three grounded plugs, this extension cord doesn’t give you an extra 12 feet of reach away from a wall socket, but it triples the number of devices that can be connected to one outlet. Thin and flexible though the cord may be, it’s still a 16-gauge wire that carries plenty of power, rated at 1,625 watts. Oh, and it costs less than twelve bucks.
Pros: Flexible cord, flat plug shape hugs wall, great low price
Cons: Some units have sockets too loose to hold plug prongs