Extension cord help needed

Old 09-18-17, 07:15 AM
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Extension cord help needed

I'm Ok with a lot of stuff, but can't ever work out even simple electrical issues. Combine that with not wanting to destroy a borrowed 5 ton log splitter and I need help.

I'm splitting wood away from the house and need an extension cord for the log splitter. It's 15 amps and I want to go back as far as possible. The manual says that's 12 AWG wire at 50' and that I can't go to 100' with any wire.

I have a 50' cord rated 16AWGX3C which, I take it is insufficient. Please confirm.

Also, please let me know the risk of using a lower rated cord and the splitter receiving insufficient power. Is it more than just not operating? Finally, I'm just plugging this into a "typical" outlet. Is this a problem?
Old 09-18-17, 07:52 AM
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Hi Tony, the problem with extension cords is two-fold. The first one is that if the cord is tool small diameter you risk burning or melting the cord. The other problem is with devices that have large motors (like your splitter) is that a longer cord causes the voltage to drop at the end of the cord. It's very similar to how a long hose decreases water pressure at the end. If the motor gets voltage too low it will have trouble starting and can overheat the motor windings. This puts greater wear-and-tear on the motor and in extreme cases will burn out the motor.

Your #16 cord is too small. I'd agree with the manual recommendations of 50' for a #12 cord, but I also think you would be safe at 100' with a #10 cord.
Old 09-18-17, 07:54 AM
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Your smaller 16 AWG conductor will have greater resistance than the recommended 12 AWG conductor which will reduce power transmission to the machine. I don't know the effects of less than optimal power on motors.

The power lost to resistance will manifest as heat and pose a fire hazard.

If your 'typical outlet' is on a 15 amp circuit it may cause the breaker to trip, but nothing more.
Old 09-18-17, 08:20 AM
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As mentioned, this probably requires a 20 amp circuit. If it really draws 15 amps, I would be surprised if it didn't have a 20 amp plug on it.
Old 09-18-17, 08:52 AM
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I would be surprised if it didn't have a 20 amp plug on it.

I'd be surprised if it did have an actual 20A plug on it.
Old 09-18-17, 09:57 AM
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I don't know what is actually draws although the label says 15 amps. It has the same plug as other power equipment although the cord is considerably thicker.
Old 09-19-17, 05:21 AM
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The log splitter is not considered a "continuous" load so it can draw the entire 15 amps using a 15 amp plug. It can draw a little more than 15 amps momentarily and not require that fact stated on the label and not require a 20 amp plug.

The plug implies the circuit amperage rating required. If the appliance really requires a 20 amp circuit then it would have a 20 amp plug.

Occasionally you will see an appliance that has recommended for it a "slow blow" fuse or not so quick acting breaker because it draws more than the rated current for a long moment but not for as much as a short time.

Because you borrowed the equipment and because you said you are not an electrical expert, please follow the instructions regarding extension cords i.e. don't play God and don't play games.
Old 09-19-17, 06:17 AM
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While I think a 100' #12 cord would be alright, I agree with Allan that you don't want to take a chance with someone else's equipment. Besides when you price the heavier extension cord you'll likely only want the 50' anyway.

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