Every Workshop Needs a Retractable Extension Cord

You can't set up a workshop without one of these powerful tools

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Family Handyman

Bring Universal Power to Your Shop

With a retractable extension cord in the shop, there’s no more searching for the extension cord, no more tripping over cords on the floor, and no more constantly bending over to plug in whatever you need. But stay away from wimpy 16- to 18-gauge corded models. They don’t carry enough current for many tools. The Husky 14-3, 50-ft. model ($70 at Home Depot) works great, but any 14-3 model with a 13-amp rating will do fine. But as you know, the more you spend…

The ReelWorks Extension Cord is the best heavy duty retractable cord out there. Click here for it on Amazon.

Best Way to Use a Retractable Extension Cord

Find the Best Location

For the most part, placing one of these systems directly above your workbench is the best place to mount the extension cord. But you may be different. You might find that it is better to place it in a spot where the cord can reach outside. At my garage workshop, I need my retractable extension cord to power my vacuum while cleaning the car as well as power all my workbench tools so I placed mine on the wall next to my garage door. I can still reach it a few steps away while standing at my bench while also bringing the cord halfway down my driveway.

Consider the Features

Most extension cords are standardized by gauges. The lower the gauge (12, 14, 16) the more heavy duty they are. If you think that the extension cord will get run over by casters and heavy equipment or that it will be used outside, you will want to go for the lower gauge. Another feature is the amount of plugs the cord has. Most have three plugs, which is perfect. But others come with a single plug and may not be the best for your situation so consider the options.

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