There are several extension cords available in the market. When taking a trip to an electrical shop, the number of choices available may overwhelm you. It is why it is important to have even the most basic idea of how they work. Before diving in further, you may also want to find out about low amp wires and high amp wires. Here’s the table that includes the various products we recommend, including the power they’re capable of carrying. Our recommendations are based on NEC ratings.
Aside from a variety of range of amps, they also come in a variety of lengths. The most common available lengths that you can readily purchase are:
- 150 feet
Depending on your needs, you can easily pick the one closest to your requirements. It is tempting to pick the longest length as it may seem the most flexible, but that is not always the safest choice. A study by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission found these products cause fires. They are among the leading causes of fire accidents in the United States. The main reason these accidents happen is incorrect wire length and gauge.
It is important to do some research before deciding which one to purchase with these in mind. Consumers should have the most basic knowledge of these cords. In this article, we will be diving deep into what you need to know about them. We’ll look at ones that are 20 to 200 feet. Each section below has its label, so you can quickly search through the article using the search functionality.
What to look for
When looking for the right one for your electrical needs, there are several things to consider. However, the top four things you should look into are the following.
|What to look for|
|Usage||Type of plug|
Usage and Environment
What type of environment will you be using it in? The outer layer of any wire protects from cold and moisture. It can also protect against extreme heat. For outdoor use, be sure to select one that has a thick outer layer. On the other hand, indoor ones do not need a thick outer layer. Perhaps you’re looking to power your TIG welder or MIG welder.
Avoid ever using an extension cord that looks like that!
To determine the designation of your cord, look into the reference guide below.
- S – Flexible cord allows for use in almost anything.
- W – It is for outdoor use.
- J – It has a standard 300 V insulation. Otherwise, it has a thicker 600 V insulation.
- O – It is oil-resistant.
- P – It has a parallel wire construction, which you can use for household needs.
- T – The cover uses vinyl thermoplastic.
- E – The cover uses thermoplastic elastomer rubber (TPE).
- FT2 – The product is fire-resistant.
- CL2 – You can use the wire for in-wall construction.
The most common plug types are the two-prong and three-prong. Depending on your type of application, there may be special requirements. It could be a specialty plug to support high requirement devices.
It is important to choose one that will safely handle the power requirements of the connected devices. Be aware of the power rating of your tools. When picking, be sure it supports the devices you plan to connect. Otherwise, you may compromise your safety.
You can commonly use a three-foot length indoors. It is perfect for a laptop with a nearby outlet.
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If you are on a desk or couch and need easy access to an outlet, you can use a 6-foot extension cord. You can plug in some of your portable devices, such as a mobile phone or tablet. It can allow you to comfortably charge it while using the device.
You can use the 10-foot extension cord option for your air conditioner. Most ACs have a huge plug, making it difficult to attach to a socket under certain circumstances. Using a heavy-duty option is an easy way to address this issue quickly. You’ll want to make sure you get one with the right amp rating.
The 20-foot extension cord option is great when you need to extend your electrical capabilities within a single room. Perhaps you have an outlet in one part of the room. You would like to also put up a lamp on the other side, where there’s no outlet. You can also use it for other home needs. When using an electric cooking range, we recommend you pair it with a NEMA 14-50.
You can use a 25-foot extension cord outdoors, such as a 50 amps RV. There are several AWG wires for you to choose from. Some of the common heavy-duty use cases are the 10-gauge and 12-gauge wire. The next closest alternative is the 30-foot length if this length is unavailable.
When planning to use appliances outdoors, the 50-foot extension cord option is a great way to extend an outlet’s reach. You can use a 10-gauge or 12-gauge for this application. Be sure you are using a heavy-duty option to ensure it can safely handle the load. Some of these models are retractable, so you can easily roll up the capable after use. It is convenient if you’re using it for a leaf mulcher outside.
However, suppose you plan to use 50 amps. You need at least an 8-gauge copper wire at an ambient temperature rating of 167°F. Otherwise, you need a 6-gauge aluminum wire at an ambient temperature rating of 167°F.
If the ones discussed above are too short, you want to give the 100-foot extension cord length a try for your outdoor needs. In most cases, you may need a heavy-duty retractable option so you will easily be able to roll the cable.
Some of the common AWG wires you can safely use with this length are the 10-gauge or 12-gauge. Sometimes it may read as 10/3, 12/3, or 14/3 extension cord. The 10/3 extension cord will safely carry a maximum of 40 amps. It handles anything less as well. For your 20 or 30 amp RV requirements, they’re great. On the other hand, a load of 50 amps is no longer safe. If you think 100 feet is too long and 50 is too short, there is a 75-foot option available.
They could be great if you’re trying to power a security camera!
A 150-foot extension cord is where it starts to become very long. With that said, you need a high-capacity one to support the devices and appliances you will plugin. For 100 feet extension cords, it is best to purchase a retractable one. That way, you can easily roll up the wire. Most people use this for outdoor purposes, such as power-up lights in the middle of your backyard.
Make sure to check out our article on utility sinks as well.
Suppose you look for the longest length readily available in most electrical stores. In that case, the 200-foot extension cord option is the way to go. Ideally, you will need to use it outdoors. You can use it to supply electricity to your power tools. They’re great for a circular saw or grinder when you don’t use them right near your house. When using these tools, you need a lengthy option. We think it is a great choice for outdoor and commercial purposes.
Outdoor options are those that you can use outside the house. Some might think you should only use this product indoors. Still, recent advancements in technology made it possible to use extension cords & reels outdoor. One rated for the great outdoors has the letter “W” on the packaging or sleeve. If this information is not available, do not worry, as there are other ways to determine.
The main difference between indoor and outdoor ones is the insulating layer. Outdoor options typically use bright orange vinyl. They can also be made of rubber or plastic to keep moisture and other external elements from the conductive part. The conductive part needs to be safe from any external elements. Exposure to these elements will lead to danger.
It is important to have a three-prong plug for your outdoor needs. The third prong serves as a grounding wire, significantly reducing the risk of electrical shocks. Many indoor types do not have a third prong, but some do. If these still confuse you, you may want to check on the rating. Outdoor options typically have a significantly higher rating than indoor ones.
Now that we have discussed how to determine the right one to use, it is time to know some of the safety tips revolving around it. Whether it is indoor or outdoor, you need to store it properly. Unplug everything and carefully roll it back to its original package. Check for any cuts or wounds in the cord. If you see any, dispose of them right away. When storing it, be sure to keep it away from areas that accumulate moisture.
Find the right extension cord solution for your needs!
When taking it out of storage, be sure to inspect for any cracks or wounds before using it. The outer part cracks when it gets in contact with too much heat. If you notice any problems, do not use them at any cost. Brightly colored ones are also advisable, so you can easily locate them and prevent people from tripping.
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Extension cords come in different duties, such as light-duty and heavy-duty. If your requirements need you to draw 10 to 15 amps of power, you need to use a heavy-duty option. What makes it different from the other duties is that it is always grounded. It comes with a third wire and plug prong, which serves as the grounding. It also has plugs with three slots for accepting grounded appliances and devices.
Power tools and heating appliances are a few heavy-duty appliances that draw up to 15 amps of power. Most of these wires use a NEMA 6-20 plug type. For the AWG size, the following should serve as a guide.
- 14-gauge wire for a length of up to 25 feet
- 12-gauge wire for a length of up to 50 feet
- 10-gauge wire for a length of up to 100 feet
Although the information here is generally accurate, you have to check the manufacturer’s manual regarding their use. Suppose you are looking for a portable welding machine. In that case, we have a curated list of some of the best engine-driven welders available in the market.
8, 10, 12, or 14 gauge
The 8 and 14 gauge sizes are a few of the most common sizes available in the market. Below entails the amperage capacity of each gauge size.
An 8-gauge aluminum wire can safely carry up to 40 amps at 167°F or 45 at 194°F. On the other hand, an 8-gauge copper wire may safely carry up to 40 amps at 140°F. It can handle 50 amps at 167°F and 55 at 194°F.
A 10-gauge aluminum wire can safely carry up to 30 amps at 167°F or 30 at 194°F. On the other hand, a 10-gauge copper wire may safely carry up to 30 amps at 140°F. It can handle 35 amp at 167°F and 40 at 194°F.
A 12-gauge aluminum wire can safely carry up to 20 amps at 167°F or 25 at 194°F. On the other hand, a 12-gauge copper wire may safely carry up to 25 amps at 140°F. It can handle 25 amp at 167°F and 30 at 194°F.
There is no aluminum option for the 14-gauge wire. However, a copper 14-gauge copper can safely carry up to 20 amps at 140°F. It can handle 20 amp at 167°F and 25 at 194°F.
30 & 50 amp RV Extension Cord
RVs require these products because it is useful for added flexibility when you are on the road. It lets you connect to the right power source without having to sacrifice much. These are classified under heavy-duty use, so be sure to select a cord that can safely handle the heavy-duty load. Depending on the usage, RV extension cords usually rate at 30 or 50 amps.
It’s easy to purchase and use an extension cord, but how do you wind it? Learn in simple steps below.
How to: How do you wind a 100-foot extension cord?
- Untangle the cord
Run through the whole cord with your hands and take out all the curls and twists that may have occurred.
- Plug both ends of the cord together
Find the end and beginning of the cord and plug them together.
- Run the first loop
When you find the midpoint of the cord, run the rest of the cord through this loop.
- Form the chain
Now grab the handle of this circular loop and run the existing length of the cord through it. Keep doing this until you see a chain formation.
- Store anywhere
Once you’re done, you’ll see a chain has formed. This can be stored in any twisted shape or form, and it will always come back to the chain formation. Another advantage is that you can unwind and use only as much distance as is required.
Generally, the length of your extension cord shouldn’t exceed 100 feet. But by plugging one cord into another, you can easily get your appliances working from 200 feet away.
Remember that the appliances being plugged into this cord aren’t more than a few hundred volts in wattage. This is because plugging two cords together drops the current carrying capacity by 50%.
A 14 gauge cord is the thinnest extension cord you’ll find. It will function well at a length of up to 25 feet. However, it can also carry a nominal load of 10 to 15 amps when at a length of up to 50 feet. This cord should not exceed 50 feet.
It is not bad to use long extension cords if used correctly. Your cords should not exceed 100 feet. They should also not be running through snow or from under carpets. The golden rule is never to replace extension cords with permanent wiring.
Yes, this is true that longer extension cords take more power to run appliances. The shorter the cord, the more current carrying capacity there is.