EXTENSION CORDS

Things to consider before buying an extension cord

 

With the wide range of extension cords available these days, it can boggle the mind on which one to use, and for what purpose. Which is the safest? What outlet goes in where? Do you have to purchase a different cord for each different and specific application? These are valid questions and are confusing to the point of frustration. It is for this reason that we would like to provide you with helpful tips to take into consideration when buying and using an extension cord.

 

1.   Environment & Usage

Firstly, and probably most importantly, take note of the environment to which the cord will be exposed. An extension cord is manufactured with an outer protective housing to shield its inner electrical components from cold weather, direct sunlight or moisture, but most important of all – protect you from the electricity buzzing around in there. This housing has a designation comprising a pattern of letters, each with individual meaning. It is therefore important to take the housing and sequence of letters, referred to as electrical ratings into consideration before buying your extension cord.

2.  Socket Configuration 

Extension cords have numerous socket configurations, the majority of which are either back to back (commonly referred to as an “anus” coupler) type socket or a “side-by-side” socket. Before buying your extension cord, consider your application as you may be in need of a specialty configuration to ensure ease of use or aesthetic appeal when plugging in your appliances.

3. Power Rating

Another critical factor to take into consideration is the power requirements of the devices that you connect to the extension cord. It is vital that your extension cord can handle those power requirements.

Here is a list of a few factors to consider:

  • Know and respect the rated amperage of your appliances and tools.
  • Don’t forget that “amperes = watts/voltage”
  • In South Africa all socket outlets are protected by a 20A circuit breaker fitted in the distribution board.
  • Safety comes first! Safety is vital whilst dealing with electrical equipment and devices such as extension cords. It is therefore pivotal to consider safety requirements such as the quality of the cord and the producer thereof.

These requirements include:

  • Copper conductors (never aluminium)
  • Safety shutters on the socket outlets.
  • Integrally moulded plugs with safety sleeves on the live pins.
  • Clear marking showing the maximum ratings.

Call Apex Cordset Technologies today for your safe and high quality extension cord. We provide you with all the requirements that an extension cord can offer.

 

Is it safe to use multiple extension cords?

Not enough extension cords to connect your TV, heater, charger, and WIFI router? And all hope is entrusted into scratching through your cupboards for an extension cord? This may not be as good as it seems. Extension cords although very helpful in times of desperate need should only be a temporary solution and not as a long-term extension for all your household electrics.

Extension cords need to be used properly to ensure your safety. Continuous usage over time will damage the extensions thus potentially creating a serious fire hazard or risk of electrical shock.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) offers safety tips when purchasing and using the correct extension cord to avoid electrical shocks or fires:

  • Never overload your extension cords.
  • Do not allow them to run through water – whether completely submerged or through a puddle of water.
  • Never use extension cords as a permanent solution for wiring.
  • Don’t run extensions through doorways, walls, ceilings or floors or under carpets. When a cord is covered, heat cannot escape which can result in a fire hazard.
  • Extension cords cannot be used for many appliances, only one per socket outlet.
  • A high dependency on extension cords indicates that you don’t have enough outlets for your needs. The right thing to do is to Install additional socket-outlets where desired.
  • Avoid linking two or more extension cords together as each cord is specifically designed and approved for that specific length, a longer extension cord cannot handle the same load effectively.
  • Ensure that the extension cord used is rated for the appliances to be plugged in, by always having a higher rating than the appliance or combination of appliances. For example:

Extension cord rating: 16A.

Number of outlets: 3

Appliance Ampere ratings plugged in: Heater 8A, Charger 1.5A, Hair Dryer 4A

Total load: 8+1.5+4 = 13.5A – OK.

  • It must be marked for either indoor or outdoor usage.
  • Check the appliance that you are connecting to the extension. It will state the wattage rating on it. Ensure that your extension cord matches this wattage rating. Never use an extension cord that has a lower rating than your appliance.
  • Refrain from using an extension cord that looks and feels damaged or hot. If one touches an exposed strand, it will create an electrical shock or burn you.
  • Respect the South African plug and socket configurations, some are designed for 2 pin systems (double insulated) but others are 3 pin which includes a protective earth connection. Do not try to modify any plug pin or socket outlet access hole to fit a non-standard plug.
  • Use only 3 core extension cords fitted with a 3-pin plug. The only exception are cords for garden appliances such as lawn mowers and edge trimmers.
  • Purchase extension cords that are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as TACS (Testing and Conformity Services) Laboratories or SABS or INTERTEK
  • Never substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
  • Use round, thick and low-gauge extension cords for large appliances. Choose thin or flat cords for smaller appliances.

Avoid taping your extension cords to floors or surfaces with nails or staples.  Never bend extensions cords in use or wrap around sharp edges.

As convenient and common as extension cords are in providing power in the best places, without the correct precautions they can turn into a fire or pose a safety risk.

Here are some tips to guide you in keeping your home and trusty extension cords safe:

 Caring for extension cords

  • Dispose of any damaged cords. They cannot be re-used.
  • Unplug your extensions when they are not being used.
  • Store your extension cords indoors, before storage, check the surface of the cord for any damage.
  • When disconnecting your cords from an outlet, pull the plug – not the cord.
  • Check that the plug pins are clean and undamaged.

Don’t forget, extension cords are for temporary use. If you find yourself wrapped up in a mountain of cords, it might be about time to consider updating your home’s electrical system.

 

What should I do with my old unusable or unsafe extension cord?

All good things come to an end eventually. So when that plastered up extension cord finally gives in, what should be done with it?  Is it safe to reuse? Can one just plunk it away?

Below are some ideas and safety tips on what to do:

  Now is the time to throw that old safety hazard out.

  • When the cord suffers from insulation damage you should definitely get rid of it.
  • Should the inner cores be exposed, rather dispose of it.
  • If the cord is too short, and you are tempted to join two cords together – don’t; rather purchase a cord with the correct length.
  • Old worn out cords that no longer have those important safety features attached to them must go.
  • Cords without safety certification are unsafe!

Apex Cordsets is able to dispose of your old worn out extension cords responsibly.

 

  Do’s and Don’ts

  • Avoid worn-out extension cords. When working with extension cords we tend to roughen them up a bit, dragging them everywhere, physically using and abusing them. Work carefully with your extension cord to avoid this safety hazard.
  • Don’t overheat! When an extension cord gets overloaded by using too many appliances simultaneously, it gets overheated and finally wears out.
  • Prolong your cord’s life. This can be done by not using them under furniture and carpets and avoiding the foot traffic over your cord.
  • Know your devices well. It is vital to know which devices have a perfect match, in terms of rating, with which extension cord

 

 

SMETA 6.0

Apex Cordset Technologies recently had a SMETA audit conducted, thereby complying with ethical and responsible business values.

SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit) created by the Sedex Stakeholder Forum, is the world’s most commonly used ethical audit format with 230,000 audited sites. It has a collection of good practise in ethical audit techniques. It is designed to assist auditors conduct high quality audits consisting of all aspects of responsible business practices. SMETA is built on labour standards, health & safety business ethics and the environment ensuring that its three main elements – a common corrective, action plan format, best practice guidance on conducting ethical trade audits and a common audit report format – are thoroughly maintained.

SMETA allows a supplier to have an audit conducted and shared with multiple customers. The documents are designed to be used by experienced auditors in line with established practices.

SMETA plays a vital role in efforts to ensure responsible transparency and sourcing within supply chains.

This audit assists in measuring the positive impacts that happen on site, using performance indicators such as worker turnover. SMETA is able to record non-compliance where unethical and fraudulent business practises are employed where the issue does not fit into the code clause. It covers the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) forming an introduction to human rights assessment. SMETA also covers land rights, including legal consent and tenure. Questions have been added to show the methodologies used to calculate the living wages as well as questions related to the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015.

There is an increased focus on monitoring emissions and waste. There are also strong requirements for fire safety.

SMETA is not a fail or pass audit. The non-conformances, good examples and observations are reported to help a site build and improve on good business practises.  It is an open source approach, meaning that you don’t have to be a Sedex member to use the methodology.

SMETA accreditation is fast becoming a prerequisite to doing business with many of the major retailers within South Africa. This means that Apex Cordsets has now been added to the approved suppliers list for the top retail chains in South Africa

Apex Cordsets is proud to have been a part of the SMETA audit !

The need for SAFEhouse in a safe South Africa

 

Apex Cordset Technologies adhere’s to both South African and international  quality standards and have strict in-house policies in place to guarantee that our clients receive the safest products on the market.  We strictly enforce all the relevant national and international legislative requirements when it comes to product safety.  Our membership with the SAFEhouse association is further testament to our pledge to uphold the safety of South African consumers.

In our previous article we took a brief look at the South African SAFEhouse Association and the events surrounding its formation.  South African consumers are however well within their rights to wonder just how a situation came about where an industry must effectively resort to self-regulation to maintain basic safety standards and safeguard its consumers.   While living in a so-called nanny state is certainly not the solution, consumers might be forgiven for merely assuming that their best interests are being looked after by government bodies and regulatory boards, especially when it comes to products that can pose the potential life-threatening dangers upon malfunction as posed by electrical goods.  In this post we examine the roles of South African regulatory bodies and how these inadvertently contributed to the influx of cheaper unsafe electrical products.

The challenges faced in the  South African regulatory environment

The challenge is essentially two-fold: On the one hand, the role of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has undergone a significant change since 2008.  Its role nowadays is more that of a commercial certification and  testing facility, and the trusted SABS stamp of approval has been replaced  as the guarantee of the high standard that all products on the market are held against.  The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), which was once part of the bureau, has instead taken over this  role by issuing compulsory specifications and regulating the compliance of goods sold into the South African market. (Unfortunately, its role is very limited, and a great number of products are never tested, allowing sub-par goods to slip through the cracks.)

On the other hand since there is no compulsion to comply with the certification mark such as the SABS mark   , a single LOA document issued on a test report and no inspection of the product or factory has been found to be open to abuse. The process is simple : One set of perfectly compliant samples often refered to as “Golden Samples” are submitted for testing at an accredit laboratory. Upon issue of the test report tp the NRCS an LOA is then issued for a total of a 5 year period without further tests or investigation.  Orders arethen placed on the manufacturer , who in some cases then unscrupulously produces the products using sub-standard materials (cheaper) based on the issued LOA for 5 years.

This uneven playing field that has been forced upon South African manufacturers is therefore detrimental to local industry. Safehouse has been engaging with the NRCS to try and resolve the challenges as set out above in order to prevent non -compliant product from entering our market and thereby ensuring the safety the South African consumer.

Apex Cordset Technologies’ and SAFEhouse

Why the need for SAFEhouse?

Apex Cordset Technologies is proud of its affiliation with the South African SAFEhouse Association – a local independent, registered non-profit industry organization. It is established by the electrical industry to protect South African consumers by combatting the recent influx of poor-quality unsafe electrical equipment that can lead to serious injuries or even death in South African homes and workplaces.

It’s referred to as “the China Effect” as markets across the globe are being flooded by the import of cheaper, mass produced products. South Africa is no exception. Our clothing, textile and motor industries have up until now been the main sufferers, but in recent years the electrical manufacturing industry has unfortunately also felt the pinch as local retailers increasingly turn to these cheaper Far East imports instead of stocking locally produced items.

Not only is this negatively impacting the South African economy through the inevitable job losses, but these products are often of sub-standard quality. They are produced from inferior materials and are generally not held to same stringent production and manufacturing standards as South African items.

While it might be inconvenient to purchase a clothing item that lets you down in fit and wear, it can be downright life-threatening if electrical equipment used in your home fails or malfunctions. While the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa’s statistics are not as current as we’d like, the most recent information reports about 3 800 electrical fires occurring roughly on a yearly basis. Even more worrying is the roughly 14 000 fires that are qualified as “undetermined” in their causes. Instances of electrocution is also not often reported either, so the damage could be much more widespread than previously imagined. This is according to SAFEhouse spokesperson Pierre Nothard.

What is SAFEhouse?

SAFEhouse is an association of organisations from within the South African electrical industry – mostly comprised of distributors, suppliers, wholesalers and even large contractors. SAFEhouse can benefit any organisation that fulfils the role of supplying electrical equipment either directly to the public or by supplying retail outlets and electrical contractors. SAFEhouse aims to regulate the product purchasing of electrical organisations by providing them with the criteria by which to judge whether the products that they are distributing conform to industry standards and are not merely selected with an increased profit margin in mind. While it certainly does not see itself as a consumer watchdog or protection body, SAFEhouse does welcome safety-related complaints from any party exposed to sub-standard electrical equipment and installations.

SAFEhouse operates on the following premise:

  • They list and offer products that adhere to the strict safety standards set by industry experts themselves
  • Clients are informed if any products should happen to fail the safety standards.
  •  Necessary steps are then taken to recall all unsafe products.
  • Distributors are instructed to exchange any unsafe products that they might have installed or distributed, or if applicable, they can redo any work previously done to improve the safety of the installation.

 

Apex Cordset Technologies holds its dedication to the safety and quality of our products in extremely high regard, and through the SAFEhouse initiative we are further empowered to guarantee the exemplary quality and performance standards that our customers have come to rely on.