Wrong Guage Ext Cord Blowing Out Motors?

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  #1  
Old 05-08-07, 05:12 PM
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Wrong Guage Ext Cord Blowing Out Motors?

I apologize if this should be in the Garden forum (I also posted there).

In 2005 I purchased an electrical trimmer and 100' ext cord from Sears at the same time. Cord was supposed to be used for outdoors. Used them fine until the trimmer just stopped working last summer (I was secretly glad b/c I wanted to upgrade!)

Today, I purchased another electrical trimmer, Ryobi Brand, and 5 mins into my first usage it, too, stopped working. I'm prepared to return the trimmer, but then I realized I used the same 100' ext cord as before. I looked a little closer and see that the 100' cord is 14 guage wire. The owners manual of my trimmer says the standard for a 100' should be 12 gauge.

Could this have caused either or both trimmers to blow out?
 
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  #2  
Old 05-08-07, 05:36 PM
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An update.....

Here's what I found:

1) For the first trimmer, purchased in 2005, owners manual states for a 100' cord should use a minimum of 16 gauge wire. So not the cause there.

2) For the newer trimmer, the manual says to use a minimum of 12 gauge on 100' and "an undersized cord set will cause a drop in line voltage resulting a loss of power and overheating."

So, it looks possible that by using that cord I may have overheated the trimmer.
 
  #3  
Old 05-08-07, 05:42 PM
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Yes, possibly, but 5 mins on a #14 shouldn't have done it.
 
  #4  
Old 05-08-07, 05:44 PM
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Extension cords in general are usually bad for a motor, mostly because improper sizing and for voltage drop. Buy the shortest acceptable cord in the heaviest gauge you can find. Cheap $10 walmart cords aint gonna cut it.
 
  #5  
Old 05-08-07, 06:56 PM
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MAC702 - thanks, thats what Im thinking. Only ran it for 2 mins!

burkej62 - I paid $19.99 for this at Sears in their outdoor power equipment section. Rated for outdoors too. I bought 100' b/c I have a large area to cover.
 
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Old 05-08-07, 07:22 PM
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:::cough:::cough:::gas trimmer:::cough:::cough
 
  #7  
Old 05-08-07, 07:33 PM
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There is probably some other contributing factor. Perhaps your house voltage is already low. Or maybe the outlet you plug into is at the end of a long run.

If you really need 100 feet, I guess you'll have to use a 100-foot cord. But if you can get by with a shorter cord, do it. And buy the heaviest duty, most expensive cord you can find. It might be called super extra heavy duty, or some other combination of superlatives.

You could try to measure the voltage with the trimmer running. Plug a power strip into the end of the extension cord. Then insert the prongs of a voltmeter into one outlet while you plug the trimmer into the other. See what the voltage is with the trimmer off, and then turn it on to see what the voltage drops to.
 
  #8  
Old 05-08-07, 07:39 PM
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Wink

Agreed. A combination of nasty voltage drop, low primary voltage to begin with and less than par extension cords can really put a hamper on trimming your bushes.

If you absolutley will not consider a gas trimmer why not run a dedicated 20 amp circuit as directly as possible for it? The circuit you're using may be as mentioned, at the end of a long circuit to begin with .
 
  #9  
Old 05-09-07, 05:33 AM
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Trimmer

What is the wattage rating of your new trimmer? Or the amperage rating? It should have a specification plate with this information.

Extension cords should be chosen by wire gauge. I would look for a 12 gauge copper cord. Smaller number means larger wire with more capacity. Hope this helps.
 
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Old 05-09-07, 05:55 AM
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You could also put one or two or even more receptacles on a dedicated circuit in your yard then use a shorter extension cord. You might want to use #10 wire for the yard receptacles.
 
  #11  
Old 05-09-07, 08:20 AM
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All of this is decent advise for helping later, but I still doubt a #14 cord caused the initial problem, esp. in only 5 minutes.

I would return the tool with a clean conscience.
 
  #12  
Old 05-09-07, 08:29 AM
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I say return the faulty trimmer. I don't think a 100' #14 cord is the cause of the failure, especially after 5 minutes. The manufacturer should expect that everyone who uses a string trimmer does so on a 100' cord, and the product should be designed to handle that level of voltage drop.

One more thing -- are you sure the trimmer is dead, or did it just overheat and turn off for a few minutes? Some motors automatically shut off for a period of time if the operating temperature is too high. Some motors have an overload reset button/breaker that trips on an overheat.
 
  #13  
Old 05-09-07, 10:46 AM
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This is great feedback. Let me see if I can answer/address some of the questions and points:

HotinOKC - ":::cough:::cough:::gas trimmer:::cough:::cough"

- Haha. Yes, I know. Just a personal choice for a few reasons that I went electric. Same with a blower and a hedge trimmer as well.


John Nelson - "You could try to measure the voltage with the trimmer running. Plug a power strip into the end of the extension cord. Then insert the prongs of a voltmeter into one outlet while you plug the trimmer into the other. See what the voltage is with the trimmer off, and then turn it on to see what the voltage drops to. "

- That would work. I dont have a Voltmeter so I'll have to price one out in order to try this approach. Like you and others mention, its possible the outlet is at the end of my circuit.


burkej62 - "If you absolutley will not consider a gas trimmer why not run a dedicated 20 amp circuit as directly as possible for it? The circuit you're using may be as mentioned, at the end of a long circuit to begin with ."

- While this would help, running new circuits is out of my league. I can do some intermediate wiring, but not a new circuit.


Wirepuller38 - "What is the wattage rating of your new trimmer? Or the amperage rating?"

- The first one that burnt out is 4.5 amps. The newer one is 6 amps. At 125 V they should both have been handled, wattage-wise, on my cord. My cord has a wattage rating of somthing like 1565 watts.


ray2047 - "You could also put one or two or even more receptacles on a dedicated circuit in your yard then use a shorter extension cord. You might want to use #10 wire for the yard receptacles."

- Aside from the issue with adding a dedicated circuit as mentioned above, if I put in several new receptacles at various locations outside of my house, I would still probably need a 75 yard ext cord. The 100' cord barely runs from the current receptacle at my front door to the farthest front edge of my property. I would probably have to run lines underground to places in my yard for a receptacle.

I know, I know, another case for a gas trimmer!


MAC702 - "All of this is decent advise for helping later, but I still doubt a #14 cord caused the initial problem, esp. in only 5 minutes.I would return the tool with a clean conscience. "

- Yes, good point on the newew trimmer. But what about the one that I used for two summers and it died in the end? That couldve been a result of longer-term wear on the motor caused by continuous voltage dropping?


ibpooks - "I say return the faulty trimmer. I don't think a 100' #14 cord is the cause of the failure, especially after 5 minutes. One more thing -- are you sure the trimmer is dead, or did it just overheat and turn off for a few minutes? Some motors automatically shut off for a period of time if the operating temperature is too high. Some motors have an overload reset button/breaker that trips on an overheat. "

- Thanks. On your point about am i sure its dead. Trimmer #1, yes. Died in November and was dead when I plugged it in this year. On Trimmer #2, good point. I should plug it in today just to be sure on that.


I plan to return BOTH trimmers. Last night I found that I had an extended warranty with Sears on the first trimmer that...get this...expires in 12 days!! I am also going to try to exchnage the newer trimmer to HD even though it was an "all sales final" deal.

Best case, I can exchange Trimmer 1 for a new one at Sears and get an in store credit from HD for.......a top quality 100' extension cord!

Well, in the end, I've learned a valuable lesson. Thank you all so much for you input which is now my knowledge gain for me!

I have some things to do and will come back and update everyone in a few days.

Thanks again!
 
  #14  
Old 05-09-07, 10:51 AM
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Last night I found that I had an extended warranty with Sears on the first trimmer that...get this...expires in 12 days!!
THAT NEVER HAPPENS!!!!
 
  #15  
Old 05-09-07, 01:54 PM
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I'v had nothing but bad luck with big box stores accepting returns on shoody products. I'd much prefer to support the little man on the corner.
 
  #16  
Old 07-23-07, 09:57 AM
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Just thought I'd update as promised - althogh a little late. I took my product back to Sears Hardware, with the Warranty, and they exhanged it completely. No questions asked. So, I have the same exact trimmer virtually, just newer. So far its holding out, but I think I will upgrade to a larger, gas model before it can break again!
 
  #17  
Old 07-25-07, 08:49 AM
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Interesting thread so I did a couple tests yesterday afternoon. My trimmer is 4.1 amps. I plugged my kill-a-watt into the extension cord then the trimmer.


100' cord with #16 wire (not good)

Trimmer off: 116.5 volts Trimmer on: 110.8 volts


50' cord with #14 wire

Trimmer off: 117.5 volts Trimmer on: 114.5 volts


The power to my garage is usually 120 volts but because it was 90+ outside I'd guess the power company was a little taxed. I think that 100 footer will have to go.


Baldwin
 
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