Author Topic: Extension cords and freezers  (Read 747 times)

Offline jklinck

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Extension cords and freezers
« on: September 07, 2021, 05:50:07 am »
I just moved into a new home and the wall where I want to put my freezers doesn't have any electrical outlets. I could hire an electrician but I would rather not do that. So I thought I could get two extension cords, string them up the wall across the ceiling and down the other wall for the freezers. Any electricians or electrical engineers see any issue or potential fire hazard with this? Or should I just hire an electrician to put in an outlet?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2021, 06:02:37 am by jklinck »
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2021, 10:58:25 am »
I am not an electrician but you do increase your fire hazard risk with extension cords, especially under extended use.

Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2021, 11:52:29 am »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2021, 03:19:24 am »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.

Functionally what is the difference between a freezer plugged into an extension cable and a freezer with a long cord? I get that many extension cords are insufficient gauge to act as a permanent cord for a freezer but if a sufficient gauge were used then what's the risk?
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Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2021, 12:18:17 pm »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.

Functionally what is the difference between a freezer plugged into an extension cable and a freezer with a long cord? I get that many extension cords are insufficient gauge to act as a permanent cord for a freezer but if a sufficient gauge were used then what's the risk?

Basically it comes down to the wire gauge, heat dissipation and the wire protection.  EMT conduit (metal tubing) is typically used when exposed in basements.  If not EMT conduit, then the lesser quality product would be Romax.  Also, extension cords do not have the ability to dissipate heat the way wire does in EMT, or Romax.

Also, the connections need to be considered.  The connection (plug) is the “weak link” in the circuit.  Using an extension cord would have a minimum of two weak links, instead of one.

If extension cords were the same as EMT or Romax, we could wire an entire house with extension cords. 

Will extension cords work?  Absolutely they will.  I was merely offering advise from years of experience in electrical wiring and HVAC controls.  Extension cords are intended for temporary, or light duty, use.  Not for a major appliance in a basement.
Joliet, IL

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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2021, 12:54:57 pm »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.

Functionally what is the difference between a freezer plugged into an extension cable and a freezer with a long cord? I get that many extension cords are insufficient gauge to act as a permanent cord for a freezer but if a sufficient gauge were used then what's the risk?

Basically it comes down to the wire gauge, heat dissipation and the wire protection.  EMT conduit (metal tubing) is typically used when exposed in basements.  If not EMT conduit, then the lesser quality product would be Romax.  Also, extension cords do not have the ability to dissipate heat the way wire does in EMT, or Romax.

Also, the connections need to be considered.  The connection (plug) is the “weak link” in the circuit.  Using an extension cord would have a minimum of two weak links, instead of one.

If extension cords were the same as EMT or Romax, we could wire an entire house with extension cords. 

Will extension cords work?  Absolutely they will.  I was merely offering advise from years of experience in electrical wiring and HVAC controls.  Extension cords are intended for temporary, or light duty, use.  Not for a major appliance in a basement.

I didn't realize there was a fire risk with appropriate gauge extension cords but this makes a lot of sense.
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Offline pete b

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2021, 01:23:00 pm »
What about extension cords that say they are for appliances?
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2021, 03:26:20 pm »
I have 12 gauge extension cords that I use for temporary purposes on a 20 amp circuit breaker and gfci protected circuit in my brewery garage.  The circuits feeding my chest freezer outlets (using Johnson Controls external temperature controllers) are 14 gauge wire/15 amp circuits installed in the walls with 15 amp gfcis and circuit breakers.  The use of external thermostats inherently involve an extra "extension cord".  I never gave it a lot of thought, but I think this approach is pretty safe....
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Offline Visor

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2021, 04:32:27 pm »
   How much cord would you need to run? I can't believe that a 25' 14 gauge cord would pose any realistic danger unless you have some kind of antique freezer that pulls a kajillion amps, now if you're thinking of running a 100' or more, that might be a bit more problematic. Having an eye for safety is fine, but I think we sometimes get a bit carried away with hyper caution.
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Offline ExtractDoug

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2021, 05:50:59 pm »
Is your basement prone to flooding?  You'll need to be careful if the interconnection gets submerged, or you'll have some electrified water. (not the kind of hot water you want in brewing).


Offline chinaski

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2021, 08:14:36 pm »
It's not all that difficult to add another outlet yourself so long as the circuit you extend doesn't have a lot of load already on it.  Running the extension cord on a short-term basis will tell you if it would be OK to run another outlet on that circuit.

Offline MDL

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2021, 08:04:59 pm »
Check the power consumption of the freezer. My new 14 cf chest freezer draws 125 watts when running. That is ridiculously low power use and would be fine plugged into an extension cord. Also consider that a chest freezer isn’t running 24/7. It cycles giving the wire time to cool down.

Offline David

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2021, 11:56:44 pm »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.

Functionally what is the difference between a freezer plugged into an extension cable and a freezer with a long cord? I get that many extension cords are insufficient gauge to act as a permanent cord for a freezer but if a sufficient gauge were used then what's the risk?

Basically it comes down to the wire gauge, heat dissipation and the wire protection.  EMT conduit (metal tubing) is typically used when exposed in basements.  If not EMT conduit, then the lesser quality product would be Romax.  Also, extension cords do not have the ability to dissipate heat the way wire does in EMT, or Romax.

Also, the connections need to be considered.  The connection (plug) is the “weak link” in the circuit.  Using an extension cord would have a minimum of two weak links, instead of one.

If extension cords were the same as EMT or Romax, we could wire an entire house with extension cords. 

Will extension cords work?  Absolutely they will.  I was merely offering advise from years of experience in electrical wiring and HVAC controls.  Extension cords are intended for temporary, or light duty, use.  Not for a major appliance in a basement.

You are partially accurate, EMT is used to protect the conductors, however it also has to be sized correctly based on the installed conductors to give you the heat dissipation. Romex should never, ever, ever be installed exposed - or in conduit as it is not rated for such uses. Romex is only designed for interior wall installations, again proper sizing based on the required load will account for the heat dissipation.
Another point to consider is the length of the cord, conductor size is not the only consideration here. A #14 wire is only good for its rating (15 amps) to a length of about 45 feet, longer than that will create too much resistance, lower the supplied voltage and increase the amperage respectively - this is where the heat comes from.
Basic extension cords marketed to home owners are not even 14 gauge wire, most are 16 - never use these, as these are cheaply made and in my opinion should not even be available to purchase.
My best suggestion is if you don't hire an electrician (best choice), and must use an extension cord (definitely not the best choice but will work), buy a "Heavy Duty" 12 gauge extension cord (these are expensive) keep the ends off the floor if there is any chance of flooding, and plug it into a GFCI protected outlet. Keep in mind to keep the length as short as possible.

I am a licensed master electrician with 29 years of experience.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2021, 12:14:21 am by David »
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Offline Oiscout

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2021, 01:51:22 pm »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.

Functionally what is the difference between a freezer plugged into an extension cable and a freezer with a long cord? I get that many extension cords are insufficient gauge to act as a permanent cord for a freezer but if a sufficient gauge were used then what's the risk?

Basically it comes down to the wire gauge, heat dissipation and the wire protection.  EMT conduit (metal tubing) is typically used when exposed in basements.  If not EMT conduit, then the lesser quality product would be Romax.  Also, extension cords do not have the ability to dissipate heat the way wire does in EMT, or Romax.

Also, the connections need to be considered.  The connection (plug) is the “weak link” in the circuit.  Using an extension cord would have a minimum of two weak links, instead of one.

If extension cords were the same as EMT or Romax, we could wire an entire house with extension cords. 

Will extension cords work?  Absolutely they will.  I was merely offering advise from years of experience in electrical wiring and HVAC controls.  Extension cords are intended for temporary, or light duty, use.  Not for a major appliance in a basement.

You are partially accurate, EMT is used to protect the conductors, however it also has to be sized correctly based on the installed conductors to give you the heat dissipation. Romex should never, ever, ever be installed exposed - or in conduit as it is not rated for such uses. Romex is only designed for interior wall installations, again proper sizing based on the required load will account for the heat dissipation.
Another point to consider is the length of the cord, conductor size is not the only consideration here. A #14 wire is only good for its rating (15 amps) to a length of about 45 feet, longer than that will create too much resistance, lower the supplied voltage and increase the amperage respectively - this is where the heat comes from.
Basic extension cords marketed to home owners are not even 14 gauge wire, most are 16 - never use these, as these are cheaply made and in my opinion should not even be available to purchase.
My best suggestion is if you don't hire an electrician (best choice), and must use an extension cord (definitely not the best choice but will work), buy a "Heavy Duty" 12 gauge extension cord (these are expensive) keep the ends off the floor if there is any chance of flooding, and plug it into a GFCI protected outlet. Keep in mind to keep the length as short as possible.

I am a licensed master electrician with 29 years of experience.
15 year Journeyman wireman here. This man speaks the truth!


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Offline BrewNerd

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Re: Extension cords and freezers
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2021, 02:52:04 am »
I have done a great deal of electrical work in my career and I’m with majorvices.  Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  If you need electrical power in a particular location, install a receptacle.

Functionally what is the difference between a freezer plugged into an extension cable and a freezer with a long cord? I get that many extension cords are insufficient gauge to act as a permanent cord for a freezer but if a sufficient gauge were used then what's the risk?

Basically it comes down to the wire gauge, heat dissipation and the wire protection.  EMT conduit (metal tubing) is typically used when exposed in basements.  If not EMT conduit, then the lesser quality product would be Romax.  Also, extension cords do not have the ability to dissipate heat the way wire does in EMT, or Romax.

Also, the connections need to be considered.  The connection (plug) is the “weak link” in the circuit.  Using an extension cord would have a minimum of two weak links, instead of one.

If extension cords were the same as EMT or Romax, we could wire an entire house with extension cords. 

Will extension cords work?  Absolutely they will.  I was merely offering advise from years of experience in electrical wiring and HVAC controls.  Extension cords are intended for temporary, or light duty, use.  Not for a major appliance in a basement.

You are partially accurate, EMT is used to protect the conductors, however it also has to be sized correctly based on the installed conductors to give you the heat dissipation. Romex should never, ever, ever be installed exposed - or in conduit as it is not rated for such uses. Romex is only designed for interior wall installations, again proper sizing based on the required load will account for the heat dissipation.
Another point to consider is the length of the cord, conductor size is not the only consideration here. A #14 wire is only good for its rating (15 amps) to a length of about 45 feet, longer than that will create too much resistance, lower the supplied voltage and increase the amperage respectively - this is where the heat comes from.
Basic extension cords marketed to home owners are not even 14 gauge wire, most are 16 - never use these, as these are cheaply made and in my opinion should not even be available to purchase.
My best suggestion is if you don't hire an electrician (best choice), and must use an extension cord (definitely not the best choice but will work), buy a "Heavy Duty" 12 gauge extension cord (these are expensive) keep the ends off the floor if there is any chance of flooding, and plug it into a GFCI protected outlet. Keep in mind to keep the length as short as possible.

I am a licensed master electrician with 29 years of experience.
15 year Journeyman wireman here. This man speaks the truth!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Clearly you need my input to break the tie. I work at Home Depot and even I know you need to be careful with extension cords. They're on aisle 43.