How Do Retractable Cords Work?

Justine Harrington

Retractable cords are safe, easy to use and install, and result in far less clutter than regular extension cords. If you're considering using a retractable cord, it's best to know how this type of cord works.

How Do Retractable Cords Work

Cords are inarguably one of the most important tools for your home because electrical outlets are often placed far away from certain appliances. Put several long cords in the same space, though, and you end up with a nest of tangled cords. Retractable cords help eliminate this problem by allowing you to wind slack cord back into a receptacle, keeping clutter off your floor. However, it's best to know how these work to keep the cords in good condition.

What Is a Retractable Cord?

A retractable cord is a cord or cable that retracts back to a device when it is pulled a certain distance from that device. In short, this type of cord allows the user to neatly store the cord when it's not in use, and to keep excess cord out of the way. Most vacuum cleaners and irons are equipped with retractable cords, for example. You can also install retractable extension cords in your home.

Retractable cords are usually implemented as a safety feature because they aren't as easily damaged as regular cords. Retracting the cord into a compartment shields the cord from pets, accidents and other causes of damage, and it offers more protection for the user because cord damage can result in electric shock.

How Does a Retractable Cord Work?

A retractable cord is on a set of rotating wheels; these wheels contain enough room for the entire length of the cord. They also have springs and ratchets that help lock the wheels when you pull out the cord; this is why the cord doesn't snap back automatically when you try to extend it. Instead, the cord may retract a tiny bit as the lock sets. When it's time to roll the cord back up, you'll usually have to press a button to disengage the lock, and the wheels will turn until either the plug on the cord blocks further movement, or you give the cord another small tug to engage the lock.

This type of cord is very practical, durable and safe, and it has many applications. Retractable cords are easy to install, use, store and transport. They also result in less clutter than regular extension cords and are thus the more visually pleasing option since you do not have to worry about making the cord less visible.

Perhaps best of all, retractable cords reduce the trip hazard often associated with loose cords. This is an important factor particularly if you have young children or pets in the home.