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Best extension leads 2023: Keep the electricity flowing, both indoors and outdoors

Make sure you have enough mains sockets where you need them with our pick of the best extension leads for indoor and outdoor use

You always need one more plug socket than you have. Whether that’s to charge up your smartphone in the bedroom or to plug in your TV, speakers and games consoles elsewhere, there’s nothing more irritating than having to unplug devices to make room. The best extension leads provide safe, easy access to mains sockets whenever and wherever you need them.

It’s not always just about extra sockets. Extension leads also do exactly what they say on the tin, extending the reach of your mains sockets to the zones of your house, garden or balcony that weren’t previously within reach. Using power tools or jet washers outside wouldn’t be too practical without an extension lead, after all.

So, whether you’re looking to replace an old, worn extension lead or need a new one, we’ve got a selection of safe and secure extension leads that are built to last and suitable for either indoor or outdoor use.

Best extension lead: At a glance

How to choose the best extension lead for you

How many appliances can I put in an extension lead?

By all means, fill up the available spaces in your new extension lead – but ensure that the peak power consumption of the connected devices remains within a lead’s rated capacity. The capacity of an individual extension lead must be stated on the lead itself so you won’t need to guess, but in general, that comes to around 3,500W (watts).

Electrical Safety First has devised a calculator so you can estimate the power consumption of the appliances, devices or tools that you’re planning to connect to your extension lead. For general household use, you probably won’t need to worry too much as items like lamps or laptop or mobile phone chargers are very low in wattage, less than 100W in general, and even TVs and Hi-Fi components tend to draw hundreds rather than thousands of watts. That said, it pays to be vigilant: seemingly innocuous small household items such as hairdryers, irons and kettles can consume the best part of 3KW each – and if you’re thinking about electric lawnmowers and power tools, these too can demand kilowatts of power.

A further word of warning: the maximum power handling of longer extension cables, such as cable reels designed for indoor or outdoor use, depends on the cable being completely unwound. If you’re planning on using high powered electric garden tools, then the cable must be unwound to prevent excessive heat build up in the cable reel. Where a wound cable reel might only handle 1,000 watts (1KW), the same reel may be rated at around 3,300 watts (3.3KW) when the cable is unwound to its full length. And similarly, don’t be tempted to tightly wind up a standard extension cable in the name of neatness if you’re going to be using it with power hungry appliances – items with a high power draw can cause the cable to heat up dramatically and create a fire hazard.

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Can I plug an extension lead into another extension lead?

No, we wouldn’t recommend it. Connecting two or more extension leads together, sometimes referred to as ‘daisy chaining’, is benign on its own but the problem lies in the likelihood that you will be plugging in too many devices that use too much power all at once. This overloading, as described above, increases the electrical resistance in the chain and is often the root cause of fires.

The solution: buy an extension lead with a cable that’s long enough in the first place, and which has enough sockets and power handling capacity for the devices you wish to connect.

When is it time to replace your current extension leads?

  • The lead is hot to touch: This suggests that you are overloading your extension cord beyond its capacity and marks a real safety hazard, as noted above.
  • The lead has cracked, loose wiring or insulation: Bin it. Cuts or cracks in the outer cable or loose wiring is unacceptable and presents a danger to life.
  • The lead smells of burning, has hot plastic, discoloration around the sockets or any sparking: Time to throw it away – as you might reasonably expect, these are all pretty serious signs that you should ditch the lead or face some damage to your home and appliances.
  • The lead is too short: If your current lead isn’t reaching where you need it to, we would advise buying a replacement with the right length of cable – if you really do want to extend it, then purchase an suitably rated extension lead with a single socket to plug it into.

It’s good practice to check your extension leads for the above issues at least once a year. That way, you can avoid any serious consequences before they occur. Purchasing an extension lead from a trusted supplier, perhaps one with a guarantee period included, can add to that peace of mind and let you use your extension leads without any worries.

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What features should I consider?

The number of sockets is crucial. Make sure the lead has enough sockets for your current needs, and ideally buy one with a couple spare so that you have options to connect other devices in the future.

Next, consider the length you need. Longer lengths range between two and as much as 15 metres, but it’s not recommended you exceed this upper limit for an indoor lead. You will also want to think about a smart extension lead that will let you turn on your sockets via Wi-Fi. This is a very convenient way to switch on lights or reboot your Sky box without having to reach for switches or remove cables.

For those wanting to use extension cables outside, it’s essential to use ruggedised and waterproofed cables that are IP rated for outdoor use. It’s also a good idea to purchase outdoor cables on a sturdy cable reel or with a drum-wind system, as this makes it easier to pack the lead away when it’s not being used, and tends to give you the option to span far greater distances.

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Best extension leads you can buy in 2023

1. Masterplug 5m extension: Best budget extension lead

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from AmazonIn terms of a cost-effective extension lead, you’re unlikely to find a better pick than this one from Masterplug.

It has the fundamentals you need in an extension lead: four plug sockets connected to a decent 5m length. Its slim appearance will let it hide away under any table or beside any sofa, while the total length is short enough that you won’t have spare cable length to worry about.

Key specs – Length: 5m; Sockets: 4; USB ports: None

2. Masterplug Reel Extension Lead: Best value extension lead for outdoor use

Price: From £33 (25m) to £56 (50m) | Buy now from AmazonIf you’re looking for something that’s suitable for outdoor use, this Masterplug is a good option. It comes in 25m, 30m, 40m and 50m lengths, and supplies four sockets to where you need them.

The grooved rubber handle makes the whole thing easy to hold and transport while the drum-wind handle lets you pack away the 50m cable with ease.

Safety wise, this extension lead is up to the task too. It will not overheat because of power overloads since it has a thermal cut-out to prevent fire risk – simply press the red button to reset and use again. The cable itself is also reassuringly thick.

Key specs – Length: 50m; Sockets: 4; USB ports: None

3. PRITEK 12-way tower extension: Best extension lead to maximise space

Price: £30 | Buy now from AmazonWhen space is at a premium, it’s often easier to use the vertical space in your home over the horizontal. Grabbing a tower extension lead like this one from PRITEK will keep the floor clear by building sockets up instead of across your room. You get heaps of sockets too – 12 in total, plus 5 USB sockets for any smartphones and other electronic devices. It also looks quite quirky and sleek too, considering its an extension lead, which can’t always be said for these types of home accessories. If avoiding clutter and maximising space is what’s required, this is the pick for you.

Key specs – Length: 2m; Sockets: 12; USB ports: 5

4. TP-LINK Kasa 3-Socket Wi-Fi Extension Lead: Best smart extension lead

Price: £27 | Buy now from John Lewis Smart plugs have been all the rage in recent years, making life easier by letting you control plug sockets usually via a Wi-Fi connected app. This one from Kasa may have a short lead but it is fantastic to use: you simply add a new device on the Kasa mobile app and follow the instructions to connect it to Wi-Fi. From there, you can name individual plugs so you know what you are turning on and off, wherever you are in the world. You can even use Alexa or Google Assistant to turn them on/off for you or set timers and schedules that suit your lifestyle. It couldn’t be easier.

It also has two always-on USB ports should you need them, plus all these sockets have surge protection should you accidentally overload your lead. To live a smarter way, this is certainly a top pick that may save you some household energy too.

Key specs – Length: 1m; Sockets: 3; USB ports: 2

Buy now from John Lewis

5. Mscien Outdoor Garden Socket: Best waterproof extension lead

Price: £41 | Buy now from AmazonNow, you could argue this isn’t a typical extension lead given it’s simply moving a two gang plug socket outdoors, but given the 10m range and it being one of the most waterproofed extension leads out there, we had to show it to you. With IP66 protection – meaning it’s protected from sprays, rain and total dust ingress amongst other things – this lead can be installed on the outer wall of your home for regular access to power without any awkward cable solutions. No longer will a cable need to be strung from the plug, through the window and out to the back garden with this neat solution.

Key specs – Length: 10m; Sockets: 2; USB ports: None

6. PIBEEX lead: Best value extension lead with USB ports

Price: £17 | Buy now from AmazonSometimes all you want is a competent product that does its job, has a few bells and whistles, while not costing an arm and a leg. For an extension lead, that’s usually the case and this one by PIBEEX certainly offers all that.

It has four sockets, all with their own individual on/off switches, as well as two USB ports that also have an on/off switch. To save on space, the backside features mounting holes to get the lead off your floor or desk and out of the way. It has safety credentials too, avoiding overcharging or over circuiting your devices while being highly flame retardant. For a balance of features and price point, this one is right up there.

Key specs – Length: 2m; Sockets: 4; USB ports: 2

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