When a short power cord doesn’t measure up

22Mar13

In a small feat that’s probably not impressive to anyone but me, I managed to cram all of my ancillary electronics — like the printer and shredder — into a single closet at my house. As you might imagine, getting all the cables wrangled and tied was one of the hardest parts, especially for the power cords. And one cord stood out as a particular pain.

The culprit was my paper shredder. It has a very short cord, probably no more than four feet. And every time I thought I had it wired right, I realized that while the cord reached, the only way to empty the basket would have been to unplug the cord, unsnag it from any other cables, and then lift the unit up.

This made me think a little bit about how long the power cords are for other things around the house. I don’t have a corded vacuum anymore, but from what I recall, the cord was quite lengthy. In contrast, the power cords for some kitchen appliances are so short they barely reach the socket a few feet away.

It seems like a lot of manufacturers are missing an obvious rule of thumb. If a corded appliance moves around a lot — for instance, because it’s handheld or has to be picked up for maintenance — then it should have a longer power cord than something that always remains stationary. By following this simple approach, product designers would make it far easier for consumers to live with those products, while likely reducing the amount of warranty claims for power cords that stopped working after one tug too many.



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