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, which 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 read about 20, 30, 40, 50 & 60 amp wires and 70, 80, 100, 125, 150, 200, 400, 600 amp wires. Here’s the table that includes the various products we recommend, including the power they’re capable of carrying, as per their NEC ratings.
Aside from a variety of rang of amps, they also come in a variety of lengths. Some of the most common available lengths that you can readily purchase are 10, 15, 20, 50, 100, 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 to be the most flexible, but that is not always the safest choice. A study by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission highlights that these products are among the leading causes of fire accidents in the United States. The main reason for these accidents to happen is incorrect wire length and gauge.
With these in mind, it is important to do some research before deciding which one to purchase. Consumers should have the most basic knowledge behind these cords. In this article, we will be diving deep into the things you need to know about them, specifically those that can support 20, 25, 50, 100, 150, and 200 feet. Each section below has its label, so you can quickly search through the article using your browser’s search functionality.
What to look for
There are several things to consider when looking for the right one for your electrical needs. 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, moisture, or extreme heat. For outdoor use, be sure to select one that has a thick outer layer. Indoor ones, on the other hand, do not need a thick outer layer. Perhaps you’re looking to power your TIG welder or MIG welder.
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, such as a specialty plug to support high requirement devices.
It is important to choose one that will safely handle the power requirements of the devices you are connecting. 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, you comfortably charge it while using it.
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 quickly address this issue.
The 20-foot extension cord option is great when you might need to extend your electrical capabilities within a single room. Perhaps you have an outlet in one part of the room, but you would like to also put up a lamp on the other side, where there’s no outlet. You can also 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 outdoor, such as in a 50 amps RV. There are several AWG wires for you to choose from. Some of the common ones for heavy-duty use are the 10-gauge and 12-gauge wire. If this length is unavailable, the next closest alternative is the 30-foot length.
When planning to use some appliances outdoors, the 50-foot extension cord option is a great way to extend an outlet’s reach. You can use a 10-gauge, 12-gauge / 12/3, or 14-gauge wire 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, convenient if you’re using it for a leaf mulcher outside.
However, if you plan to use 50 amps, you need at least an 8-gauge copper wire at an ambient temperature rating of 167°F or a 6-gauge aluminum wire at an ambient temperature rating of 167°F.
If the ones talked about above are too short, you may 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, 12-gauge, and 14-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 below it, such as 20 or a 30 amp RV requirements. 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.
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 plug. Similar to 100 feet, it is best to purchase a retractable one, so you can easily roll up the wire. Most people use this for outdoor purposes, such as using it to power up lights in the middle of your backyard.
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If you are looking for the longest length that is readily available in most electrical stores, 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, such as circular saw, grinder, and the like. 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, but 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 in the sleeve. If this information is not available, do not worry as there are other ways to determine.
The main difference between an indoor and outdoor ones is the insulating layer. Outdoor options typically use a bright orange vinyl, rubber, or plastic that keeps moisture and other external elements away 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, which significantly reduces the risk of electrical shocks. A good number of the indoor type 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 it right away. When storing it, be sure to keep it away from areas that accumulate moisture.
When taking it out of storage, be sure to inspect for any cracks or wounds before using it. The outer part ocracks when it gets in contact with too much heat. If you notice any problems, do not use it 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, medium-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 of the 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. If you are looking for a portable welding machine, 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, 10, 12, 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, 50 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, 35 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, 25 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, 20 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. RV extension cords usually rate at 30 or 50 amps, depending on the usage.