Hot Topics: What Are the Easiest Electrical Cords to Use and Store?

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Most DIYers have electrical extension cords in the workshop or garage, but they can be just as frustrating as they are handy if you don't have a practical storage method. A question about flexibility leads to a discussion about insulation types, and some useful tips along the way.

Original Post: Recommendation on easy to roll up extension cords?

moveright Member

Hope this is the right forum for this. I'm going to get a couple new extension cords for my shop (I'm a woodworker for a living.) I want to get 12 guage extension cords, but I thought I'd ask here to see if there are recommendations for extension cords that roll up easily? I've got a cheap 14 ga (might even be 16) in my shop and it's not very flexible. It always fights me on coiling it up. I've seen some contractors in the past with extension cords that were really thick—probably 12 or 10 ga—and they seemed so easy to work with. Thoughts on this? I do like to shop on Amazon.

pugsl Forum Topic Moderator

I don't know of any wonder cords, but I take the time to coil them without any twists in the cords. My cords have lasted 20+ years now. If the cord when coiled won't make a figure eight, it's twisted. Pull it all the way out and coil up.

PJmax Group Moderator

For day-to-day use, nothing beats rubber cords. Usually if you want rubber, you buy the bulk cable and put the caps on yourself. These will always roll up easily even when cold.

I have a sound rental company and I have thousands of feet of extension cords, speaker cables, and mic cords. I use primarily the orange extension cords in sizes from 25'-100.' Most are 12 gauge and some are 14 gauge. Most of them are over 25 years old and still look and roll up like they were new. I have mic cords that are over 35 years old and in flawless condition. Only my guys roll up the cables.

The key...NEVER roll the cord up on your arm. Stretch the cord out and roll it coil by coil in your hand. Allow the far end to untwist while rolling it up. Leaving the orange cords outside on a hot day—especially when new—will make it easier to roll them up. Once you start using and training the cords they will become softer and easier to roll up.

Furd Member

The key is to get all rubber cords. Look for the letters SJOW for a good, medium service all-rubber cord. For an extra heavy cord you would want SOW or SOOW. Do NOT buy any cords that have a "T" in the insulation description as it denotes thermoplastic insulation.

Marq1 Member

I don't agree with never rolling up a cord on your arm. I always do this and can get a nice tight loop with a final couple of loops to hold it together. The secret, as noted, is a good cord!

Andrew Member

I work in television and stage, and deal with cable management every day. Learn the "over/under" method of coiling cables, and you can tame pretty much anything that comes your way.

Zorfdt Forum Topic Moderator

I agree with most of the responses here. As a bit of a cable snob (I try not to admit that often), I think buying a quality cable is most important when you're looking for a long-term quality cable. Most, if not all, of the extension cords that they sell in big box stores are the cheapest cables with plastic insulation. They're inexpensive, but you get what you pay for.

I actually spent HOURS troubleshooting a problem with a power-vent water heater connected to a generator during an extended power outage. FINALLY figured out the issue was a hot-neutral reverse in a cheap molded extension cord. Learned my lesson!

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

Good info, guys. I like that over/under method. I've been fighting cords, and now it's over.

moveright Member

Sweet. That video was really awesome! OK, well, now I know specifically to look for certain insulation types. After I thought about it, that was the actual question I had. I saw a bunch of nice "looking" cords on Amazon, but they were all SJTW. I'm glad I was steered away from that! Thanks again for this input. I can now go shopping!

telecom guy Member

I've used this for 20 years now. Very easy.

Orange plastic cord storage.

I like to coil my cords like that, Vic, but after it's coiled, I put on a single tarp (ball) bungee before I throw it in the truck so it doesn't get tangled.

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