Extension cords.

Messages
21,073
Location
Apple Valley, California
Thread starter
I need to upgrade my extension cords. The ones my dad left be are from the 50's and don't have the 3rd prong/ ground. As a young kid my dad showed me how to cut that 3rd prong off of the offending tool,how to put a penny under a fuse and how to wrap a fuse with foil. So. I want to upgrade my extension cords and use them as designed. Where is the best place to buy them? I looked at Harbor Freight and they are expensive there. Or am I just out of the loop?
 
Messages
15,138
Location
N.H, U.S.A.
I don't know if its cheaper to buy bulk wire and terminate yourself if you want 50' plus or buy pre-made they aren't killer expensive - unless you are running high amperage draw. You don't want low grade copper - it ups the impedance and thus loss in the cord. Maybe bring a VOM to the store and check the OHMS/ft of what you are considering buying. What are you running with these cords? Circular saws and such?
 
Messages
1,797
Location
San Antonio, TX
I bought a 12 gauge 100' extension cord thinking bigger was better. Man that thing is a bear to haul around. I should have gotten a 14 gauge.
 
Messages
2,010
Location
Jacksonville, FL
I've found that extension cords are expensive. Especially when you get into 12 or 10 ga cords. 14 and 16 ga cords are cheap by comparison. I have yet to find a cord cheaper by the foot than harbor freight, I own some of their cords in 14, 12, and 10 ga inherited from a friend. My only other cords were made from braided wire with enroute on them for the job, which is probably the most expensive way to buy or build a cord. If you buy from HF extension cords regularly go on sale and you can use the 20% off coupon on top of the sale price.
 
Messages
4,623
Location
Suburban Washington DC
The only time you need a 3 prong cord is if the electrical item you're using has a 3 prong plug. Most lights and small tools like a drill don't. Using a 3 prong cord with a tool that has a 2 prong plus has no advantages.
 
Messages
2,131
Location
Chicago, IL
Like others mentioned, it probably depends on what you want to power, but you can't really go wrong with a thicker gauge wire. This was a while back now, but I purchased a couple two packs of 50' 12awg extension cables from Costco that were made in the USA that were really well priced.
 
Messages
16,361
Location
NH
Are the ones from HF UL listed/approved/whatever? I've been leery of using any cords that aren't listed. I can be a cheapskate but only on things that I can watch in case of failure, and extension cords tend to get buried or loaned out and forgotten about. Wife got a cheapo cord for the vac at church, but I swear they cheapened out on the prongs for the plug, they are slightly thinner than anything else I've ever used, and there is barely any drag on the plug when going into the outlet. It doesn't get hot (the cord that is) so I haven't complained. What are the loads required? The bigger the amperage and the longer the run the lower the gauge (lower meaning fatter wire).
 
Messages
2,131
Location
Chicago, IL
I also like the idea of extra flexible cold weather cords for ease of coiling in all temps, but haven't really had a need. Lighted ends are a nice bonus too.
 
Messages
24,604
Location
Upstate NY
Northern has them on sale from time to time. A 12 gauge is overkill when you only need a 60 watt lightbulb. And a 100' extension cord will have more voltage loss if you only needed 25'. Typically the cheap part of an extension cord is the ends. Buy an extension cord, plug in a space heater for 15 minutes and point your IR tool at the ends and see if either heated up.
 
Messages
2,482
Location
MN
The size depends on what you are using it for. Air compressor, get a 12gauge, it you are running low current devices get a 14 or 16 gauge that is cheaper and lighter. The longer you go, the heavier you need too.
 
Messages
21,073
Location
Apple Valley, California
Thread starter
Just low currant things. The power company was working in our area yesterday and the power was off all day.I wanted to plug in my refrigerator amd Microwave (3 wire plugs) into my generator but couldn't.
 
Messages
12,781
Location
ROCHESTER, NY
I believe Harbor Freight has a good selection of 10, 12, 14 & 16 gauge extension cords in several lengths(25'-100'). And can most likely be purchased with their 20% Off Coupon.
 
Messages
2,131
Location
Chicago, IL
Originally Posted by Chris142
Just low currant things. The power company was working in our area yesterday and the power was off all day.I wanted to plug in my refrigerator amd Microwave (3 wire plugs) into my generator but couldn't.
I'd argue that those are both fairly high current devices, I'd go 12 gauge in the 50'-100' range.
 
Messages
15
Location
GA
Bear in mind that a smaller gauge cord, or a very long cord will have higher resistance than a short, heavy gauge cord (#12 or #10). Higher resistance increases voltage drop, voltage drop increases the amperage that a tool uses. Higher amperage increases the heat created in the motor windings and this shortens the life of the tool. Cheap drop cords are false economy.
 
Messages
1,846
Location
missouri
Have been using harbor freight cords with 20%off coupon have been happy. Do check china cords with magnet. Occasionally they use copper plated steel. I have not had one in a few years now. Rod
 
Messages
2,482
Location
MN
Originally Posted by EdwardC
Originally Posted by Chris142
Just low currant things. The power company was working in our area yesterday and the power was off all day.I wanted to plug in my refrigerator amd Microwave (3 wire plugs) into my generator but couldn't.
I'd argue that those are both fairly high current devices, I'd go 12 gauge in the 50'-100' range.
I agree. Especially when first powered on. You will get a current rush. A microwave will take 15A on its own.
 
Messages
544
Location
SE Alabama
You can buy cheap garbage from places like Harbor Freight and take your chances, or you can pay a bit more and buy quality. Personally, especially when it comes to something like an extension cord, I don't skimp on quality.
 
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