16 Gauge Extension cords:

Hi Randy!
R > many household extension cords (and lamp cords) are 16 gauge (13 amps) R > whereas the breakers on the circuits where they're used are 15 amps. R > R > How is it that it's safe to use a 16 gauge cord? Even if the R > appliance plugged into it uses less than 13 amps, it's possible that R > the appliance might malfunction and draw more current: maybe not R > enough to trip the breaker but enough to exceed the cord's rating.
As the other folks indicated, under normal usage the combination is safe. There are lots of other possibilities for failures: wiring in the wall could have a sharp kink and overheat under certain circumstances.
I think the underlying factors here are to use devices for their intended purposes and not exceed manufacturer's ratings. If the label says not to use larger than a 60W light bulb don't go putting in a 75W bulb. Sure, maybe the wiring can handle the extra 15W but the extra heat generated can cause a problem.
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