Extension Cord Recommendations
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    Question Extension Cord Recommendations

    In preparation for the holiday season and the inevitable projects that will be coming up when we move into our new home in a few weeks. I was wondering if there are any recommendations for good, quality, reliable extensions cords and what gauge you guys go with typically. My current selection of cords are from my father and are all 14-18ga and are 10-25 years old. I used them for a number of projects this summer and even in 20amp outlets I kept tripping the breakers Most of my tools aside from my table saw, miter saw and circular saw are cordless. Naturally one of these three beasts are always needed when doing wood carpentry work for a shed or workshop or whatever else the wife throws at me.

    I've been looking heavily at the (don't make fun of the cheesy name) Badass Extensions Cords brand. I figured it would be worth while to get a 10ga x 100' w/ triple tap, 12ga x 50' w/ triple tap, and a 12ga x 25' w/ triple tap, as well as a 3' inline GFCI w/ triple tap.

    https://www.badassextensioncords.com

    Any suggestions in regards to a brand? Box store, online or specialty store? Overkill with the gauge wiring vs length?

    Any input is greatly appreciate, thank you
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    I have a couple 100 ft 12/3 Coleman extension cords that I bought several years ago and they are holding up great. They are high visibility yellow and have an illuminated receptacle end (so you know power is on). I also have several other Coleman extension cord products including distributing blocks and a 10/3 25ft cord I use with a small welder. All of them have been top notch. I'm sure there are probably better and more expensive cords out there but These are hard to beat.

    The 100ft 12/3 cord was around $50 from Amazon.
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    Wire are wire. From an electrical standpoint a 100' 12AWG cord from Harbor Freight will be no worse than a "name" brand or one you make yourself. The mechanical quality may differ, of course. Kinda like the "Monster" brand AV cables. They are very nicely made, but electrically no different than a cheap cable made from adequately shielded wire.

    An extension cord will not make a breaker trip all on its own, meaning that a "good" cord will not trip and a "bad" cord will with the same load and circumstances. You're either exceeding the rated current draw (agree not likely with a 20A outlet) or you are causing a ground fault which is defined as either more current flowing out the hot then returning through the neutral OR any current flowing through the safety ground, I can make a GFCI trip just by plugging in an extension cord and leaving it on my lawn during a rainstorm. No load at all. You'll get enough leakage current to trip the GFCI. That's how they're supposed to work.

    Al
    Last edited by AlKozak; 10-06-2018 at 11:18 AM.
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    These guys have a pretty good selection

    https://www.wattswire.com/collections/all
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlKozak View Post
    Wire are wire. From an electrical standpoint a 100' 12AWG cord from Harbor Freight will be no worse than a "name" brand or one you make yourself. The mechanical quality may differ, of course. Kinda like the "Monster" brand AV cables. They are very nicely made, but electrically no different than a cheap cable made from adequately shielded wire.
    I agree... wire is wire. But as you say connectors are not connectors. The ends that are put on extension cords can be vastly different when comparing an el-cheapo cord to a better quality cord. This is especially true for the receptacle end. Super cheap cords have super cheap receptacles which use the minimum amount of metal possible to establish a mechanical connection. Just like with cheap household wall receptacles you will find a cheap cord doesn't have much "grip" on the male end of the tool plugged into it. The mechanical connection will also degrade quickly with regular use.

    I've also observed that rubber is also not rubber. Some cheap cords I've had use rubber insulation which quickly turns to a stiff plastic like material as soon as the temperature drops below 50-degrees F.

    When it comes to a decent quality extension cord that is going to last a while, the mechanical aspects of the cord are everything!

    By the way, below is a post I did a while back which illustrates the dangers of cheap mechanical connections.

    Counter top oven plug getting hot
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlKozak View Post
    Wire are wire. From an electrical standpoint a 100' 12AWG cord from Harbor Freight will be no worse than a "name" brand or one you make yourself. The mechanical quality may differ, of course. Kinda like the "Monster" brand AV cables. They are very nicely made, but electrically no different than a cheap cable made from adequately shielded wire.

    An extension cord will not make a breaker trip all on its own, meaning that a "good" cord will not trip and a "bad" cord will with the same load and circumstances. You're either exceeding the rated current draw (agree not likely with a 20A outlet) or you are causing a ground fault which is defined as either more current flowing out the hot then returning through the neutral OR any current flowing through the safety ground, I can make a GFCI trip just by plugging in an extension cord and leaving it on my lawn during a rainstorm. No load at all. You'll get enough leakage current to trip the GFCI. That's how they're supposed to work.

    Al
    Too light of a cord can make the breaker trip depending on the type of load. Take a motor...The light cord causes a big enough voltage drop to keep the motor from starting properly causing it to over amp.

    The big thing about cords for us northerners is the insulation and jacket cold weather flexibility. That’s what separates the good from the bad.
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    We use 12 gauge cords exclusively for our saws and as short as practical. Its not worth spending $500 on a miter saw and using a $10 cord. 12 gauge cords aren't cheap but IMO worth the money.
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    If you can, get the cords that stay flexible in cold weather. They are worth the extra you pay for them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arlen View Post
    Too light of a cord can make the breaker trip depending on the type of load. Take a motor...The light cord causes a big enough voltage drop to keep the motor from starting properly causing it to over amp.

    The big thing about cords for us northerners is the insulation and jacket cold weather flexibility. That’s what separates the good from the bad.
    I was referring to like vs like. You are correct that a variable inductance load like a motor can trip a breaker if the wire size is too small due to the motor starter relay never sensing enough current to shut off.

    With a resistive load, there is a real problem as the load can be well within the limit of the circuit breaker but the extension cord heats due to I2R losses. It can get hot enough to melt and cause a fire without ever seeing more current than the circuit is capable of sourcing.

    Al
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
    I've also observed that rubber is also not rubber. Some cheap cords I've had use rubber insulation which quickly turns to a stiff plastic like material as soon as the temperature drops below 50-degrees F.
    I have a 50' (maybe less) 12/3 rubber extension cord I made myself with quality Hubbell connectors that I use for things like the table saw. The first one lasted 20 years before the rubber jacket hardened into a completely inflexible substance and disintegrated. Made a new one by buying replacement cable from Lowe's or Home Depot. Reused the indestructible connectors!

    Al
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