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Thread: Please Explain Small Gauges of Extension Cords

  1. #16
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    ...but this heater is being used in NY where there is no power and it is running 24/7 which it was not designed to do...
    It is also being plugged into an extension cord that is probably undersized and probably has an injection molded end on it. Those cannot take the heat as well as a proper wall receptacle can.

    Often too, you find extension cords that are too long and they leave the extra coiled up. They can get quite warm.

    One time I found an extension cord under a raised floor in our computer room that fed a powerbar with far too many devices plugged into it. Some IT folk should not be allowed to plug things in and should stick to programming.

  2. #17
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; this heater is being used in NY where there is no power and it is running 24/7

    If there is no power, how is it running at all, unless it is by a generator and its power is seldom regulated so the output voltage may not be 120 in which case the amperage of the heater could be higher than specified.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #18
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molo View Post
    I am referring to things like space heaters. I had a 1,500 watt space heater plugged in yesterday and the plug and cord were getting quite warm!
    I am sure what you have is Normal.

    The power cord is most likely rated at a high enough temperature that it is still over rated, because of its short length.

    The power cord is normally in a cool place, or you would not be running a heater.

    As long as the power cord is in free air and not under or against anything it should be fine.

    I am with jimbo on the cut off the cheap AC Plug connector and install a new / good one.


    I use many portable heaters and I always use them on the low wattage setting. I also have smoke detectors near them.

    I try not to leave them unattended , but sometimes I trust the smoke detectors when I am in another room.

    And I do run them on a properly rated Extension cord, when needed. (Handy for the chicken house)


    If you need more heat than what the low setting will provide , then you need a better / safer heating source.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  4. #19
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the responses to the question. We typically heat with a wood stove, but I plugged the heater in to take the chill off before bedtime. I was surprised at how hot it was, and started wondering why so many appliance cords are so small.
    It seems counter to the rule of not reducing wire size.
    "Any American who is prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."
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  5. #20
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molo View Post
    , and started wondering why so many appliance cords are so small.
    It seems counter to the rule of not reducing wire size.
    I think you are mixing up the electr. code for building wire, and the UL regulations on appliance listings.

  6. #21
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Any appliance is tested by the NRTL by the intended use of the appliance. Take a drip coffee maker of 1200 watts. For the amount of time that the coffee is making the appliance is pulling maximum current but the minute the coffee is made the heating element that is used to boil the water turns off and the coffee maker is pulling half the current.

    The portable electric heaters are not designed to heat out homes. They are designed to reach a temperature and then shut off. It is when we try to use an appliance outside its scope that we start having trouble out of the appliance.

    Any load that continues for a period of more than three hours is mandated to be calculated at 125% of it rating. In other words a light that pulls one amp that is on for more than three hours must be calculated at 1.25 amps. The same is true for resistive loads such as portable heaters no matter how long they are in use.

    The reason for this is for the dissipation of heat. When heat is applied to something for more than three hours or in a resistive load it continues to rise at a greater degree than if it was being used at short intervals.

    These portable electric heaters are designed to reach a preset temperature and then shut off for a period of time. When we try to use one to heat a room and the heater is too small it will continue to run thus the overheating of the end cap and the resulting fire.

    By observing a couple of rules these heaters can be fairly safe. First never set one on high for more than thirty minutes and then turn it too low for a while. Never leave one unattended even for a few seconds. This rule applies to the burner of a cook stove. Never and I repeat never use an extension cord to supply a portable electric heater no matter the size of the cord. The added series resistance of each plug will cause a voltage drop and will result in heat in the end cap. Keep the heater at least 36 inches from anything that will catch fire.

    If one heater will not keep the area warm when set to its lowest setting then the heater is too small for the intended job.

  7. #22
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    We could probably sum up this whole problem with 3 words: Made in China

  8. #23
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    I would use three different words: the human factor

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