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3 Factors to Consider When Buying an Extension Cord for Outdoor Power Equipment

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Since the hot weather is in full swing this time of year, so is the need to do outdoor yard work. 


Whether you are using a hedge trimmer, leaf blower, wood chipper, pressure washer, or even some lawn mowers, if its electric then you'll likely need an extension cord to go with it.


Believe it or not, there can be a few factors to consider when using these handy electric yard tools.


The key is to ensure that you get the right extension cord for the job, so that you can completely your task efficiently and safely.


Failure to get the right extension cord can lead to unsafe conditions, including it being a fire hazard and possible permanent damage to your equipment. Any extension cord used should be grounded and rated for outdoor usage, at minimum.


Always select the right amount and size of cord, as while it could work under some situations, it can also be a waste of money if you choose the right type (ex. you purchase a 100 ft cord for only a 30 foot reach).


To assist you in getting the right extension cord so you can safely operate your equipment, consider the following factors:



1. The Amount of Power Required to Power Up the Equipment


Not all outdoor power equipment are the same, so it's imperative that you know how much power it has before using any extension cord on it. 


Whether it's a leaf blower or electric chainsaw, your owner's manual that comes with it will state how much power it uses, expressed in amps and voltage.  If you can't find the manual, you can do an online search to find it.


This is important, as finding the correct amperage (amps) will determine what size, or gauge of extension cord to use. 


Once you find out how much power the equipment uses, you'll now need to know how much extension you will need.


2. Length of Cord Needed


Once you have determined how many amps the equipment will pull, now ask yourself how much length of extension cord will be needed. Almost all outdoor rated extension cords we carry come in the right length that you need. 


This can range from as little as 15 up to 100 feet. Anything longer would create a significant loss in power (too much resistance over the long length), and would be unsafe. Also, joining extension cords are unsafe, so be sure to obtain the correct length, so only one cord is needed. 


3. Knowing the Right Type/Size of Extension Cord to Use


As we discussed earlier, knowing how many amps are used and length of cord is crucial for getting the right size, or gauge, extension cord.


Since longer lengths of cord requires more power to keep up the power, you'll need to go with a lower gauge number so the cord doesn't overheat and fail. American Wire Gauge, or AWG, has a numbered system with the lower the number of the cord, the more amps it can carry.


A great example is using a hedgetrimmer that is rated for 13 amps. A 16 gauge cord can work, but only up to 50 feet.


 Anything longer would drop the amperage of the cord down to 10 amps, which can lead to a fire hazard from it overheating. To remedy this, simply go with a lower gauge cord in 14 gauge, which can power up the hedgetrimmer without issues.


Our Buying Guide for Extension Cords already has a more in-depth discussion regarding this, you can view it by clicking here. Please refer to it for more detailed explanations on wire and the power required to safely run your equipment.


In short, you will need to choose the right extension cord to safely power up your outdoor equipment. If you choose too small of a size cord, it can overheat and lead to fire. Too large, and any overloading may not instantly be seen, but it is unnecessary for the money spent on it. Therefore, choosing the right extension cord is very important.


If possible, attempt to plug everything in a rated exterior grade outlet that is covered at all times. This is especially important when using an electric pressure washer, even if the cord is ground fault (GFCI) protected.


Let us know if you have any other questions regarding powering up your electric outdoor equipment.






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Posted 2015-06-10T19:35:09+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL Joseph_HD_ATL