Running an extension cord from a generator into the house seems simple enough, but some advice to follow. Here you can get to know what you need to look for in your home electrical system and how to use an extension cord safely. First, the basic requirements of the wire must be understood, along with the conditions under which you will use it.
What is an extension Cord?
An extension cord is an electrical cord (wire) with two male ends (plugs) at either end. These cords are used in place of fixed wiring to increase the length of an existing electrical circuit or outlet. A generator extension cord is a relatively inexpensive and compact way to increase the distance an electrical device can be from an outlet, thus allowing you to move it around as needed.
When using extension cords, always make sure that they are rated for your device’s voltage and amperage requirements and never overload them.
Do weather conditions and climate influence the running of the extension cord?
The type of weather and environment in which you will be operating the generator will determine what materials for extension cords are necessary. For example, if you live near a saltwater coast, the extension cord must be protected by some coating or should not be exposed to the elements. The salt can corrode the metal quickly because of the constant exposure to moisture.
The other end of the extension cord should be plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) if there is any possibility that water might come in contact with it or if you are using an indoor generator that can produce sparks. A GFCI detects any imbalance in the voltage of AC between the hot wire and the neutral wire. If that is detected, power will be shut off to that circuit.
What wire size should I use?
When using an extension cord to power equipment, you should use an extension cord that has a wire size sufficient to handle the equipment’s power requirements.
The standard length for an extension cord is 25 feet, but it can go up to 100 feet in length. Therefore, the longer the distance from the generator to the house, the bigger the wire size you should use. However, keep in mind that the longer the distance, the more significant potential for problems. For example, there could be voltage drop issues in which power is lost when using too long of an extension cord.
How to provide safety?
Most generators include an inlet box with fuses that protect from overloads and short circuits. The inlet box will require a minimum wire size for extension cords based on the amperage needed by your equipment.
The extension cord should provide adequate room for the wires to fit into the box without crimping or blocking any other terminals. It must also be long enough to avoid voltage drop problems which can cause damage and even fires. Extension cords should not hang low where they could come in contact with water or where small children or pets can trip over them.
Do not plug extension cords into one another. If not bigger, the extension cord wire size should be at least as big as your generator’s circuit breaker. Keep the power cord away from high traffic areas and out of the way of heavy objects that could damage it. Make sure all plugs are dry before plugging them in.
If you are using an inverter generator, the AC output terminals are generally very close to the ground, posing a safety hazard if not used carefully. It is necessary to use GFCI outlets when powering electronic equipment to avoid electric shock or electrocution because of any wetness that may be present on the equipment.
Be aware that you shouldn’t use generator power for home or business security systems, medical devices, or flammable items such as paint and gasoline. Do not plug in any other appliances while using the generator to avoid overloads. After powering your electrical devices, make sure to shut off the main power breaker on the generator before turning it off.