Proper Extension Cord Types and Usage
It’s impossible to use a portable generator without some kind of extension cord. However, you shouldn’t just choose any old cord from your hardware store. There are cords designed especially for open frame portable generator use. Here are some tips for selecting the right types of cords and how to use them safely and effectively.
Tips for Finding the Right Cord
The first thing you should consider is if you are using your portable generator for backup power or recreation. That’s because it’s important to make sure the gauge (thickness of the wire) and length fit your purposes. As a rule of thumb, you should never use an extension cord longer than you absolutely need. For recreational use, you can use a shorter cord. For emergency power, the unit needs to be at least 20 feet from your home.
There’s also the gauge of the cord to consider. Heavier gauge cords are designed to accommodate longer runs and higher power requirements. The more amperage you are pulling through an extension cord, the more it will require a heavier gauge to accommodate the current flow. Many cords found in stores are sold by “duty”—light, heavy, and extra heavy duty. If you’re powering a circular saw, you might need extra heavy duty. If you’re powering DJ and sound equipment for a party, you will need heavy duty. Powering lights or small appliances only requires a light duty cord.
Additionally, the amperage rating of the cord must at least be able to accommodate the amperage rating of the outlet. This is important to avoid overloading both the extension cord and the generator.
Generac Cord Specifications
Generac offers a variety of extension cords designed specifically for generator use. These cords are 10 or 30 feet long and can be used for up to 7500 watts. They are 30 amps and stay flexible even in subzero temperatures. They work with an L14-30 plug and connector, or a (4) 5-20 connector.
Safe Extension Cord Use
When you’re using your extension cord, make sure it is long enough to keep the open frame generator at least 20 feet away from your home. For emergency power, make sure it’s long enough to keep your generator away from windows and doors so that carbon monoxide does not enter your home.
Always start the generator before plugging an extension cord into it. Otherwise, you put unnecessary strain on the generator and risk damaging it.
If you need an extension cord to get more use of out of your open frame portable generator, we have them available on our parts website. You can also view the specifications on cords here.