What Are the Parts of an Extension Cord?

An extension cord is the answer to an out-of-reach vacuum cleaner, saw or anything else we use around our homes and workplaces. We rely on the cord's help because we tend to work or play where an outlet is not easily accessible. Here parts of an extension cord are explained for those who wonder how it works.

What Are the Parts of an Extension Cord?


Many different types of extension cords are available, depending on the work area they're used in. They come in different colors, including brown, white and the industrial orange. Cords can be a few feet long to a few hundred feet, especially for uses in outdoor construction. Here we look at a 20-foot orange industrial cord, traditionally used in home projects.

"Female" End

The female end of an extension cord.

Although not biologically correct, a cord's receiving end connects to the cord of an electric device. This part of the cord receives the tines and grounded node of the device, as shown in the picture. Be sure to plug this in before connecting the extension cord to an outlet. This step avoids electric shock, which would otherwise be a threat if the extension cord was connected to a wall outlet or surge protector.

The Cord

Here is where the electricity is transferred between the device and the power source. In this cord, three small wires, respectively cased in black, white and blue rubber, intertwine inside a larger orange casing. Each small wire represents each of the tines and the grounded node, which are wound tight and screwed in at both the male and female ends. According to cableorganizer.com, the thickness of these wires, or gauges, "directly affects the amount of (electrical) current it can carry over a certain distance." For heavy duty jobs, look for a lower gauge number.

"Male" End

The male end of an extension cord.

This end speaks for itself. The tines and grounded node of the extension cord plug into the wall outlet or surge protector. You should plug this in before turning on the electrical device. On this particular cord, an additional black casing surrounds the connection between the "male" end and the wires--where you will likely grab the cord when plugging it in. Keep your hand on this additional casing to avoid electric shock, especially if you're not sure if a switch is turned on.


Follow a few safety tips before operating with an extension cord. If additional cord lies loose on the floor, neatly coil the cord and place it near the power source. To prevent tripping, tape uncoiled cord every 12 inches between your work area and the outlet, using duct or photographer's tape. And most important, connect the extension cord to the device, cord to the outlet and turn the device on. Do it in that order.