Extension cord suggestions

Discussion in 'Workshop and Home Improvement' started by CELICA XX, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. CELICA XX

    CELICA XX

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    I am looking to purchase a general purpose extension cord for around the house and yard. 50 feet would probably work, but I rather have 100 for the few times I need the extra length.

    I am leaning towards the 12 gauge Yellow-Jacket cords from WOODS.

    I understand it's inefficient to use a 100-foot cord to power a device that only needs to extend 25 feet from an outlet, but all of their 12 guage cords are rated at 15 amps. I don't understand this.

    Since they are all rated the same, I really want the 100.

    Any opinions ?
     
  2. Johnnymiz

    Johnnymiz

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    get 2 50' cords ;)

    100 ft cords are a pain to wrap up. you'll hate yourself every time you only need a short cord and you have to deal with 100'...especially when it's cold

    it decreases the efficiency...... a compressor motor wont like a 100' cord
     
  3. 4XLT

    4XLT

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    A good-quality 100' 12 gauge extension cord is a good choice if you really only want to have one cord. The plusses outweigh the minuses.

    Rarely would anyone need a cord bigger than 12 gauge, and only with very large amp-draw tools would there be a worry about the voltage drop and increased resistance (heat!) that comes with the extra length. Tools like a 9" angle grinder a BIG breaker hammer like a Bosch Brute or an electric compressor really should not be used with more than 25' of total cord as the armatures will burn up before long when the tool is put to the kind of work it was intended to do. Portable compressors do better with less power cord and more hose to cover distance. Shop air shouldn't get an extension cord; plug directly into wall only.

    Household extension cords max at 15 amps because standard 110V residential outlets are 15 amps, I think it's CYA stuff. Smaller gauge cords will be rated lower but a cord over 15 amps is specialty or commercial use and rare anyway because that much power going through a cord isn't a good idea at almost any added length. A 12 gauge cord technically should be able to take 20 amps and 10 gauge should do 30 amps, but often the makers just rate them for 15 amps. Really big electric-powered tools typically have the max cord length at the right gauge fixed to the tool at the factory and warn to never use an extension cord.

    If a large amp-draw tool (as opposed to very large, meaning not as big as the ones mentioned above) is pushed too hard and bogged down during a particular use, the 100' cord will help fry the tool before a shorter cord would, but bogging down an electric tool is the quickest way to kill a tool anyway. An abused tool won't last, it will just go more quickly with a longer cord. Toasted armatures are almost always too costly to repair to be worth it and service centers can generally tell if the tool was pushed too hard by looking at the armature. If there are no shorts elsewhere in the tool or any bad bearings, nearly every premature failure of an armature is due to improper use which means a denied warranty claim.

    If it is not possible to get within 100' of a power source, the source needs to move or change, like to a generator or the outlet on the back of your neighbor's garage.:grinpimp: Using more than 100' of cord is just asking for trouble.

    For general use like you suggest and if you don't have any big amp tools to deal with, get the 100' now and get a 25' cord later only when the need comes up. Having one of each of those sizes in 12 gauge covers just about any need a homeowner would have, save Clark Griswold-style holiday light displays.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  4. fj40charles

    fj40charles GOLD Star

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    I use 10 gauge 50' extension cord when I'm using my 110v mig welder. Plug it into a 12 amp circuit.
     
  5. -Spike-

    -Spike-

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    Highly back the 2-or-more cord theory. I have 25 and 50 foot cords. I prefer 10 gauge cords for 50' or more, as I often have a high-draw tool on the end (table or chop saw, compressor), and sometimes that's at 100'.
     
  6. CELICA XX

    CELICA XX

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    I don't have any HUGE industrial tools, but I need a cord that can power a variety of 15 amp DeWalt tools (angle grinders, hammer drills, circular saws, reciprocating saws, a small air compressor, etc...) All used separately, of course.

    Could I damage the tool by using a 100ft - 12 guage ?

    Would a 10 guage put less stress on the tool ?
     
  7. -Spike-

    -Spike-

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    Yes, and yes. 15 amps is the largest (continuous) load you will see from any 110v tool these days. I have done voltage drop tests on several different gauge 100 foot cords at high loads- I don't remember the numbers but I vowed not to use anything less than 10 gauge for that distance. Do the tests yourself- test the voltage at the source, then with the tool plugged in at the source (and running). Then do the same tests at the end of your cord.
     
  8. 4XLT

    4XLT

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    of that list, only the compressor could be an issue, the others don't draw 15 amps even at start up.

    I wouldn't run 100' of 12 gauge cord to a compressor, they pull serious juice every time they start a cycle. it's just not worth what can happen to the tool and popping a breaker several times due to the increased resistance when you're trying to get something done gets frustrating.

    Ten gauge is safer in that situation, but it's pricey, bulky and is overkill for every other need you mention.

    I suppose one 50' ten gauge and one 25' or 50' 12 ga might be a good combo, and the safest would be to use the compressor only with the 10 ga. The compressor need is kinda at odds with the part of your first post where you said you are looking for A cord.

    If you have or will soon have that many power tools, you might as well have two or three extension cords or plan to end up with a few because sooner or later you're going to need more than one, like using the battery charger on the cruiser while you or the wife runs the leaf blower or the hedge trimmer.

    A 100' 12 ga cord will safely run everything you mentioned except the compressor. I'd wait to buy a 10 ga until a project comes up where you have to use the compressor with an extension cord. A good 10 ga cord can cost more than some tools you'd attach to it.
     
  9. LandCruiserPhil

    LandCruiserPhil Peter Pan Syndrome Supporting Vendor

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    A 15A load on a 12ga 100' cord is a ~5% voltage drop, not a problem. The problem is the 150' of 12ga wire from the main service to the dedicated 20A outlet on the other side of the house/building you are plugged into. In reality you have a 250' run of 12ga with a voltage drop of ~12.5%, now you have a problem. Plugging into the same outlet with a 10ga 100' cord you still have a voltage drop of ~10.5% voltage drop. Knowing where your power originates from is the key.

    Costco presently has the best price on 12ga cords. A 2 pack of 12ga 50' with lite end for $39.95
     
  10. 4XLT

    4XLT

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    I saw a lot of carnage over the time I repaired power tools. Everyone has their opinion about the quality of a certain brand and they think a tool brand is a tool brand is a tool brand. This brand is better than that, etc. There is a difference in quality between some brands but every tool is used differently over its life and every little bit of misuse or improper cording adds up. You could spend a lot of money on a high-quality tool and make it fail sooner than a lesser-quality tool that was treated properly.

    Any amount of voltage drop increases heat in an electric motor. Heat kills motors; a lesser amount of extra heat just kills them more slowly but still they won't last as long as they could with proper care.

    Over the short term with a small drop the damage may not be easily noticed, but it still decreases the life of the tool. A light bulb would just burn less bright at the end of a long cord and would be no big deal but motors under load try to draw the current they are designed to run at and when they can't get the juice, they heat up and keep trying to pull the current. Worse, at start up, the voltage drop is effectively multiplied due to the higher voltage draw. Power demand at start up is multiple times more than the power draw after start up, so if you start with a 5% drop in your cord it becomes a 10 to 20% drop in the motor at start up. Longer, smaller cords equal deficits larger than 5% and those multiplied by start up demand become 30, 40%+ drops. Leaning on the drill that is not making that hole fast enough multiplies the problem, as well.

    A somewhat common thing that fully illustrates the effect of voltage drop over distance -- when trying to run a compressor (big starting power draw) with a long, smaller gauge cord and it wont even kick on, the first thought is to check if it's plugged in, the second thought is to take the tool back to the store. What's happening is that the total deficit of the voltage drop times the start up draw has decreased so much that not enough torque can be generated to get the motor going. Heat is still being generated anyway. Plug the thing directly in to the wall near the breaker box and it will go.

    As Phil said, the drop starts at the service so wherever your outlet is you are going to begin with a built-in drop. 5% drop at the end of a home circuit branch is about the least one can expect, IF the house was built recently and was wired according to Nat'l Electric Code standards.

    Less cord, larger gauge without pushing a tool too hard helps lengthen tools' lives.
     
  11. Johnnymiz

    Johnnymiz

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    wow, a lot of great, in depth stuff here...as usual
    as i said, i've taken the multi-cord path.

    i have a 25' and a 50' 10ga cords for when i have to use my compressor or 110v mig welder.
    i try to only plug them into an outlet that's within 10' of the breaker box. better to use a long hose or move your project closer, if possible
    then i have a few 25' and 50' 12ga cords.
    i have no 100' cords. if needed, i can put together a few hundred feet of cord....but i cant ever remember needing more than 100'. i use the shortest run possible. it would be silly to have 100' of wire coiled up and impeding draw when you only need 25'
    oh, and dont cheap out on quality.... good cords will last decades if treated properly
     
  12. PAToyota

    PAToyota Keystone Cruisers SILVER Star

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    Another vote for this. Or even a 50' and two 25' cords.

    Especially if you go to 10ga, which I would suggest for your uses, a 100' cord gets awfully heavy. And dragging it all out for shorter distances turns into a pain real fast. Being able to drag out a shorter cord when you don't need it all and deal with shorter cords while coiling them up for storage works much better.
     
  13. fledglingme

    fledglingme

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    most of the time the body ( female side of the cord) of the cord burns up first..the contacts inside are required to make the connection AND allow it to be pulled apart ( lots of time during it's luseful life)..not suprising that this is the first to fail, and with it any power capacity you did enjoy. this is mostly because of quality of the componets inside- it's rarely that the conductors fail, unless they are abused. i replace the body at the first sign of warmth...and with a good quality one from an american mafg. of electrical parts( it dosen't hurt to have one spare on hand if you use the cord for a livelyhood- prices might scare you, but needed- imho
     
  14. Arya Ebrahimi

    Arya Ebrahimi

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    X3!

    I started with a 100' cord, that got cut down into 2 50' cords, then my snowblower got ahold of one of the 50's this winter and I now have 1 50', 2 15's and 2 10's. I couldn't be happer :lol: I mainly use my cords around my 20x20 garage for various power tools, and it was always a pain having to swap out cords to use a different tool. Now I have enough reach on all my tools at the same time and if I ever need to go a long distance, I can just string them together.
     
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