Need help with Extension cord solution

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Old 04-07-17, 09:30 PM
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Need help with Extension cord solution

Hi all.

I have a large aquarium at him with many different electronic devices. Approximately 10. Right now I'm lowering them by running extension cords maybe 5-10 feet to some GFIC outlets. I know extension cords are not meant for long term use.

SO my question is around building a long term solution. Basically I need to connect various devices to the GFIC outlets about 5-10 feet away. Safely. I don't want to move the outlets closer to the tank/water. And the devices can't move. My initial thought was to build custom lengths of wire with plugs on either end. Kinda like an extension cord.

I can't think of anything else?
Ideas to do this right and safe ?
 
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Old 04-07-17, 09:58 PM
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Use a pair of power strips with 10' cords mounted in the base, and just plug everything into them. That way you're only running two cords over the distance versus 10. If this is a salt water setup with a sump, you may want to reconsider plugging it into a GFCI.
 
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Old 04-07-17, 10:00 PM
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No real alternative you need to install a new 20 amp circuit at the aquarium. Probably three two gang boxes or hard wired receptacle strips.Example:

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https://www.amazon.com/24-Hardwired-.../dp/B00AIBDIB4
 
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Old 04-07-17, 10:31 PM
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Thanks but I actually have that already. I exaggerated a bit on the distance. The problem is the tank itself is 6 feet long. The new circuit is about a foot or two away from the tank. And yes there's a sump, directly underneath the tank. Some of the equipment is in the sump and some in the tank. Some reach the outlets fine but some just can't reach.

I'll see if I can move the receptacle closer to the tank. Maybe the 2 feet will make a difference.

So not an option to get quality cord/wire and attach plugs on either end so it's not coiled?
 
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Old 04-07-17, 11:39 PM
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So not an option to get quality cord/wire and attach plugs on either end so it's not coiled?
An extension cord by any other name is still an extension code.
I'll see if I can move the receptacle closer to the tank.
Moving the receptacle may be a code violation. Receptacles are installed according to the six foot rule. Every receptacle should be within six feet of any load.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 05:38 AM
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Something like this?

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https://www.familyhandyman.com/elect...iring/view-all
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-08-17 at 07:08 AM. Reason: Add image.
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Old 04-08-17, 07:06 AM
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Tribe_fan is showing you a good solution.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 07:41 AM
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Thanks. But (sorry if this is a dumb question) how is the surface wiring solution different from moving the outlet close to the tank and violating code? Definitely is easier for sure. But in this case I have no problem cutting through walls to run wire. Maybe I'm missing something?
 
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Old 04-08-17, 08:38 AM
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The surface mount (Wiremold) is using the existing receptacle in its original position as a tap-in point. One of the boxes has a hole in the back and attaches directly to the box in the wall. From there you run it wherever you need it.

But if you're not concerned about cutting into the walls in order to move the receptacle, why not just add one? It's highly unlikely that the cable routing would allow you any slack to move it anyway.

And for the record, power strips with manufactured cords are NOT considered extension cords. You CAN use them in a "permanent" situation like yours as long as it is not hard-wired to any circuit, not run through walls/doors or other structure, and don't need tools to remove them (ie: you use the keyhole slots in the back or Velcro or zipties to mount them, versus a clamp/strap that would require a screwdriver).

Once again, since this is a sump filter, you DO NOT want that pump connected to a GFCI. You say it's 6 feet long so I'm assuming it's 125 or 150 gallons, so unless you have at least a 35 gallon sump, you'll have a flood on your hands if the GFCI trips.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 01:51 PM
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But if you're not concerned about cutting into the walls in order to move the receptacle, why not just add one? It's highly unlikely that the cable routing would allow you any slack to move it anyway.
I thought someone said I can't move the outlet too close to the water source b/c of code? I'm so confused

Once again, since this is a sump filter, you DO NOT want that pump connected to a GFCI. You say it's 6 feet long so I'm assuming it's 125 or 150 gallons, so unless you have at least a 35 gallon sump, you'll have a flood on your hands if the GFCI trips.
Oh this one I can answer. The tank is 220 gallons and the sump is 75. I have it setup so that if the GFCI trips (or any power outage) the sump has plenty of space in it for the backflow of water into the sump. I think that's what you meant.



And for the record, power strips with manufactured cords are NOT considered extension cords. You CAN use them in a "permanent" situation like yours as long as it is not hard-wired to any circuit, not run through walls/doors or other structure, and don't need tools to remove them (ie: you use the keyhole slots in the back or Velcro or zipties to mount them, versus a clamp/strap that would require a screwdriver).
Ok I definitely didnt know that. Maybe power strips are the right way to go.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 04:02 PM
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I thought someone said I can't move the outlet too close to the water source b/c of code? I'm so confused
An aquarium is not considered a "water source" as far as NEC is concerned, unless you have a plumbed auto-refill system (and even then I don't think it would count unless there's an actual sink/basin). No GFCI is required.

Oh this one I can answer. The tank is 220 gallons and the sump is 75. I have it setup so that if the GFCI trips (or any power outage) the sump has plenty of space in it for the backflow of water into the sump. I think that's what you meant.
Yes that's what I meant. As long as you're following the 25% rule for sizing your sump you're okay. Lots of people use a smaller sump due to space constraints in the base, and end up with a mess the first time the power goes out because the check valve clogged lol!

Ok I definitely didnt know that. Maybe power strips are the right way to go.
Yeah as I said they can be used in a "permanent" manner with the conditions I mentioned above for things like aquariums, entertainment centers, computer desks, etc.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 06:26 PM
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cool, thanks!!

An aquarium is not considered a "water source" as far as NEC is concerned, unless you have a plumbed auto-refill system (and even then I don't think it would count unless there's an actual sink/basin). No GFCI is required.
So the GFCI, I thought, was to protect me in case something falls into the aquarium that shouldnt or a piece of equipment shorts or something. IN face I've already been saved by it once. I stuck my hand in the tank while holding something that was powered on. it shocked me bad for a sec and then tripped the breaker.

Right?
 
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Old 04-08-17, 06:58 PM
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it shocked me bad for a sec and then tripped the breaker.
It might trip the breaker after you were dead if the amps were high enough but a breaker can stay on for ten or twenty minutes at its full amp rating before it trips. Can you take 15 amps for several minutes? NO. That is why there are GFCIs that trip at 5/1000 of an amp.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 07:40 PM
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Just holding something powered on and sticking your hand into the tank shouldn't shock you. If it did it means there's a short in whatever you were holding - and it would've shocked you long before you stuck your hand into the water, because unless there is something to actually ground the water itself (ie: a metal electrode in the water connected to ground), the tank is isolated and will not complete the circuit. You would be grounded through the floor or whatever else you were touching.

Same goes for dropping something into the water. Simply dropping a powered device plugged into a GFCI into the tank will NOT trip the GFCI unless the water is grounded. GFCIs measure the current going out the hot and compare it to what's coming back in the neutral. If there is an imbalance of more than 5mA, it trips. However in an isolated tank of water, there is no path to ground to cause an imbalance. It may not even trip if you stick your hand into the tank. It would trip though if you grabbed a wet part of the cord and pulled it out of the water, because then current is leaking to ground.
 
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Old 04-08-17, 08:25 PM
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A receptacle can be right outside the footprint of a shower or tub. I don't think you would have any issues moving or adding a receptacle closer to the aquarium .
 
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Old 04-08-17, 08:34 PM
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Pure water will not conduct electricity at voltages present in homes. Unless this is a saltwater aquarium even with a ground there might not be a low resistant path if there weren't easily ionized contaminants present.
 
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Old 04-09-17, 12:08 PM
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It probably is saltwater, but even a freshwater aquarium isn't "pure water".
 
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Old 04-09-17, 07:00 PM
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Hi all, its saltwater. 220 gallons of it plus another 75 in a sump.
 
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Old 04-09-17, 07:07 PM
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A receptacle can be right outside the footprint of a shower or tub. I don't think you would have any issues moving or adding a receptacle closer to the aquarium.
Cool that helps.


So I think my plan is going to be to use a power strip. I'm confused why the wiring used in a power strip (with multiple outlets) cannot be replicated to make a single outlet/plug extension cord. But Oh well. I'll just buy a couple of power strips and I think that should do the job!
 
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Old 04-09-17, 07:12 PM
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I'm confused why the wiring used in a power strip (with multiple outlets) cannot be replicated to make a single outlet/plug extension cord.
Anything you make won't have an NTL certification such as from UL. It will be an extension cord good only for temporary use.
 
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Old 04-09-17, 07:19 PM
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Exactly. The reason manufactured power strips can be used "permanently" is because they are listed/certified as such. A homemade cluster of receptacles on a cord - while it may even exceed the qualities of a manufactured strip (using better quality/heavy duty receptacles, heavier cord, etc) it isn't listed therefore falls into the "temporary use" category.

Statistically you have a better chance of winning Powerball twice than having it cause a problem. However if there is ever a fire, and the insurance adjuster notes "homemade power tap on aquarium", it could mean your claim being denied even if it had nothing to do with the fire.
 
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Old 04-09-17, 07:39 PM
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Wow, thanks for being so patient! Learning so much here as always. Ok so looking at some options, and the various pricing is interesting.

First, the basic 6 outlet power strip. Will this be safe?
https://www.amazon.com/Belkin-6-Outl...r+strip+-surge

But because I dont need 6 outlets, this looks like it will save space. But more expensive? Why? The "NEMA" part?
Tripp Lite Power Strip 120-Volt 5-15R 3-Outlet Metal 6 ft. Cord 5-15P-TLM306NC - The Home Depot

And is this considered a power strip or extension cord?
https://www.amazon.com/Parts-Express...n%3A7306007011

Same here:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...-236-_-Product

Finally I found this, probably not long enough. Same question, is this an ext cord or a power strip?
https://www.cyberguys.com/product-de...d=6869&rH=1214

I'm thinking its not just semantics but something about them that makes them different from an extension cord?
 
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Old 04-09-17, 08:50 PM
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All but the last two are power strips. The last one is an extension cord, and the second last one is a yard spike for christmas lights. The Tripp Lite one is more expensive because it's a name brand.

Basically it will be classified as an extension cord if it has a molded socket end (even if it has two or three sockets). A power strip will have a plastic or metal box at the end containing the sockets.
 
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Old 04-09-17, 09:22 PM
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Ahh ok got it. Final question (I think) this musnt be considered an extension cord and must be rated for full time duty, right?


https://www.amazon.com/Power-Televis...1%7C7306007011

Check that. Realized the input here isnt the same as a normal plug! :-)
 
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Old 04-09-17, 09:40 PM
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That is a North America computer cord just for the record. Their trying to over charge by calling it for a specific TV. Look at the specs and the cord is no larger than lamp cord (18 gage).
 
 

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