Generator Cords Ok For Power Distribution?

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Old 12-08-13, 12:30 AM
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Generator Cords Ok For Power Distribution?

I see quite a few generator cords on the market which convert a L14-30 plug to 4 or so 5-20 receptacles. Are these okay for power distribution for stuff like Christmas and parties where I plug them into the L14-30 receptacle protected by a 30A GFCI breaker on my mobile sub panels? Reason I'm asking is they seem more attractive than running 4 appliance cords to 1 table.
 
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Old 12-08-13, 01:28 AM
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As they're only for temporary use I don't see any issues.
 
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Old 12-08-13, 05:22 AM
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Don't forget that 20 amp and 15 amp receptacles must have breakers (overcurrent protection) for 20 amps or less.

A cord as you described would need individual breakers built in for each receptacle (or one breaker could serve more than one receptacle). This cord would technically be a portable subpanel as opposed to a plain extension cord.

Equipment you plug in will work normally. (No one piece of equipment will normally draw more current than its plug is rated for). But without proper breaker protection, a malfunction in a piece of equipment could become an unusual hazard.
 
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Old 12-08-13, 07:23 AM
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Allan makes a good point, but most generators I have seen have on-board overcurrent protection.
 
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Old 12-08-13, 03:51 PM
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The overcurrent protection is the thing I'm mostly questioning. From the looks of most of them, they take the 10/4 and put it right on the 5-20 female end. I know they also make ones with L14-20 plugs, but that defeats most of the purpose. I did have another idea that would work, but would be more expensive and cumbersome.
 
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Old 12-10-13, 08:33 PM
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Well I decided what I'm going to do. Siemens makes a really small 4-space panel that I'm going to use. Punch holes on the side across from the breakers for 20A 120V simplex receptacles. Then on the top and bottom, I'm going to mount a L14-30 flanged inlet and outlet. Sound good?

Siemens EQ 125 Amp 4-Space 8-Circuit Main Lug Indoor Load Center-E0408ML1125FU at The Home Depot
 
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Old 12-11-13, 05:08 AM
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The above sounds excellent.

Rather than custom-saw holes for the receptacles, I would knock out existing smaller holes and use conduit nipples and outlet boxes mounted next to the panel to hold the receptacles. All of this can be mounted on a piece of plywood if you want it to be portable.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 01:14 PM
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How would pigtails work? I have a bunch of 5-20 female connectors I got at an auction.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 01:25 PM
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A pigtail is a short length of wire wholly inside a box or panel cabinet. It may be used to extend another wire that otherwise does not reach where it needs to go, or may be used to allow two wires to be connected to one screw. Two wires may not go under one screw unless the screw terminal is shaped or equipped with a special washer so the wires don't touch each other and neither wire will slip out from under the screw when the screw is almost but not completely tight.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 05:13 PM
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What I was referring to as a pigtail was leaving 2 feet or so of 12-3 sjo with a female cord end on it.
 
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Old 02-04-14, 08:36 AM
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Had a snow day yesterday, so I had time to get the subpanel built. I'll show you pictures when I get home.
 
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Old 02-04-14, 11:04 AM
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L14-20?

Why not use the L14-20? This would give you two 20 amp circuits. What are you doing that you need more than 40 amps of 120v power?
 
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Old 02-04-14, 01:03 PM
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The main use of power is for food tables at parties. 1500W crock pots, 1900W roller grill, percolators, string lights, etc. However, I will use this to plug in my sodium lights, etc. in other places



Next steps are going to be building a stand with a bulb guard (and a plastic bulb), and replace those two 15's with two handle-tied 20's. I should probably re-label it, too.
 
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