As summer arrives, it is also the time for air conditioners to come to our rescue, and if you don’t have one already, you should be thinking about installing a unit or two in your home. One question that always comes up with AC installation is whether you can use an extension cord or not.
With this post, we’ll address all your questions and concerns and help you unbundle the confusion.
Ideally, an air conditioner should be plugged directly in a dedicated wall socket and not an extension cord. In fact, not all wall sockets are meant for ACs, and that is why they have carefully fixed and dedicated sockets for them.
Regular extension sockets lack the amperage, gauge and wattage to carry the weight of a heavy-duty appliance like an air conditioner.
A regular 1.5 ton AC will draw a maximum current of up to 10amps and 2kW. This is way more than regular extension cords can handle.
It is, therefore, recommended that you stick to the wall socket plan of the situation allows it. In cases where a wall socket is not present and cannot be made available, certain extension cords may be considered and we’ll get into the details in a bit.
Is it safe to use an extension cord with an air conditioner?
The simple answer is No, it is not safe. If we’re to go into details, then we’ll say it depends on the type of extension cord you’re using. Using an air conditioner demands several safety precautions and the power source is one of them.
Truth is, by connecting your AC to an extension cord, you may just be commuting arson. Normal extension cords lack the power to handle the kind of electricity that an AC draws.
Otherwise, the cord will overheat and a fire may erupt. If you find that your AC is meters away from the outlet, there are other options to consider.
First, you should consider purchasing a free-standing unit that can be stationed close to the outlet. Another option would be to get a portable AC that is mobile and easy to use.
A fan is also a great alternative to help keep the room cool and comfortable during the hot summer.
However, if you have no other option than to use an extension, what you need is a cord as thick and short as the one connected to your AC.
Make sure the cord is heavy-duty, with a 12 or 14 gauge wire, higher amp ratings and specifically designed for ‘power-hungry’ appliances.
So, the proper size (in diameter), length and protection provided, an extension can be used. Where this is not available, you’ll only be putting the members of your household at risk.
What kind of extension cord can I use for an air conditioner?
We always advise that you consult an electrical expert when it comes to choosing an extension cord for your AC. Nonetheless, you can handle things yourself if you know what to look out for.
When it comes to cords for ACs, the shorter and larger, the better. There are two things to look out for when choosing an extension cord for air conditioners. These two factors determine the load capacity of every cord.
- Length: This affects voltage drop and just how much voltage the cord wire loses through resistance.
- Gauge: This has to do with the diameter/thickness of the wire and how this affects its current-wielding capacity, as well as heat resistance.
The American Wire Gauge (AWG) is what is used to measure the diameter of copper wire. The AWG is what determines the amperage or ‘ampacity’ of an extension cord. The smaller the gauge, the higher the current. Below is a simple table to illustrate.
For air conditioners, it is recommended that you purchase an extension cord of 14 AWG and lesser. A great example is the POWTECH Heavy duty Air Conditioner and Major Appliance Extension Cord.
It is a 14-gauge, 15 amps and 125V cord suitable for 1 to 1.5 Ton air conditioners. Another great example is the Best Quality Heavy Duty Extension Cord Wire that is great for heavy-duty appliances such as an air conditioner. Let’s review them in detail.
Top 3 Extension Cords for Air Conditioners
1. Best Quality Heavy Duty Extension Cord Wire
This Type B Plug extension cord is packed with 15 amps of power, just enough for your regular window or split air conditioner.
It has a wattage of 1875W and can conveniently carry the amount of electricity your AC requires.
It is designed with heavy-duty vinyl insulation for added protection. It is also very easy to connect and disconnect, thanks to the grip grooves.
The cord is waterproof and sturdy, ensuring you get great value for money. From air conditioners and power tools to other heavy appliances like refrigerators, dryers and washers, this extension cord has got you covered.
2. GoGreen Power GG-25612 14/3 12′ SPT A/C Extension Cord
Manufactured by GoGreen Power Inc., this extension cord is a Type B molded end design.
12 inches in length, it is kink resistant and made for heavy appliances like air conditioners.
It is considered extremely durable by users.
At 125 V, this cord is a 15 amp tool and can handle appliances with as much as 1,875 watts.
As long as your power consumption stays below the cord power rating, you won’t have any problems at all. What that means is that it is suitable for air conditioners that are 15 amps (14 AWG) and below.
3. Iron Forge Cable 9 Ft Appliance Extension Cord
At 15 amps, 125 Voltage, and 1,875 watts, this extension cord is a top quality accessory to help with your AC power needs.
Think of it as a reliable conduit, conveniently transporting all the power needed by your air conditioner from the source to the unit.
It is built to last with 3-wire grounded design that keeps it simple and sleek.
Enclosed in durable vinyl insulation to prevent damage from abrasion, sunlight and moisture, this 9-foot wire is UL Listed and has the perfect color and design to blend well into your home.
Does the length of an extension cord affect the power?
Yes it does, in most cases and especially when it has to do with heavy-duty appliances. Longer extension cords have higher voltage drops, meaning the voltage of electricity is reduced because of a concept known as electrical resistance.
What this means is that even cords that have the same AWG size may varying capacity if they have different lengths.
For instance, if you have an 18 AWG cord at a length of 20 feet, it may have a rating of 8 amps of load. If you desire the same load on a cord that is 40 foot long, the AWG must be larger, say 16.
This is due to the voltage drop on longer cords. For best results, stick with shorter cords.
Let’s go back to the basics of this post. The most important thing to keep in mind is this; if you can help it, plug your air conditioner directly to the dedicated wall socket. But if you must use an extension cord, look out for heavy duty cords with 14 or 12 (and above) AWG.
Light-weight, regular extension cords will heat up, burn out and even cause a fire as a result of the overwhelming AC load. You can make a choice from the three products reviewed above or follow our guide to get any other one you prefer.