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Thread: power cord sizes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Independence Ky

    Thumbs up power cord sizes

    Hello Everyone; I have heard people talking about what size wire to use when replacing cords on equipment. I highly recommend using the proper wire size. Typically what I look for is BREAKER size, Usually 20 amp for 3 prong standard outlet. While your equipment label may say it draws (example) 8 amps, your breaker is still capable of delivering 20 amps through the cord. (or whatever the size of breaker) Using improper wire size can result in overheating,or dare I say fire!!! With all the excellerants we all have the last thing we need are sparks. #10ga. is 30amp. max #12ga is 20amp. max #14ga. is 15amp. max Always use ground wire! Wire will read on exterior 10/3 12/3 14/3 Hope this helps someone, Thanks, Brad
    Last edited by Brad Hungler; 12-28-2007 at 05:44 AM. Reason: improper info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Tokiwadai, Japan
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Hungler View Post
    While your equiptment label may say it draws (example) 8 amps, your breaker is still delivering 20 amps through the cord. (or whatever the size of breaker)

    Don't you mean the circuit through the breaker is "capable of delivering 20 amps"... rather than "is still delivering 20 amps". If the motor is drawing 8 amps (running), then that's all that's flowing through the wire/circuit...No?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Tokiwadai, Japan
    Thanks for the reminder, though, Brad. It's always a good idea to check the condition of your equipment's cord and plug as a part of regular maintenance...and make sure they're the right capacity.

  4. #4
    Oh if you guys only knew...

    My Grandfather, he was an excellent machinist, but when it came to electrical stuff, he was a bit off. When I acquired some of his tools, I found the worst wiring I have ever seen. Most of it was undersized lamp cords with no grounds wired to hp motors and whatnot. It was truly scary. I have since replaced it and everything in my shop is of 12 gauge wire.

    That gets expensive too though. A lot of people go through the time and money to put heavy gauge wire in their shops, but then use 14 gauge outlets and switches because the cost is so different. (49 cents for 14 gauge versus $2.50 for 12 gauge). Still to do it right everything should be 12 gauge.

    Thanks for the reminder Brad.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Great point Brad, that kind of reminder is always welcome.

    I look for sales on extension cords, I find them here often for $10, 10 meters, 12ga or even sometimes 10 ga The only thing is they are NEVER black, but always some odd color, yellow or orange being the only normal-ish color found, and then the yellow is usually a neon yellow. Still a nice PINK or light PURPLE cord for $5 (I cut them in half and make two cords 5 meters long) is great, and the one cord I get a nice male end already on the cord.

    My whole family are electricians, so I got this stuff beat into me as a kid, my Dad was an electrical inspector for the BC government for years and years.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Having nearly zero knowledge about things electrical, I have always been conservative with my extension cord sizes. I buy only 12 ga. for tools and have one I made up from 10 ga. When my friend wired the 220V for my new lathe, the electric supply store sold me 12 ga. romex. I was somewhat concerned about that, thinking 10 ga. at least, and checked with another friend who said it was fine. The guy who did the wiring verified it was sufficient. I have a 12ga, heavy duty, extension cord I don't use. And now, I'm wondering if I could have save money by using that for the wiring. Oh, well. Maybe, I'll make it into a 220V extension cord.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    A good reminder for us all. I try to remember that the breaker is there to protect the circuit, not what is plugged into it. Obviously, improper cords can cause conditions that may or may not trip the breaker. No one wants a cord that is so thin that it just becomes a 'fuse' that could meltdown and cause problems. When in doubt, check the manual. ;-)
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

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