For most electrical devices, using an extension cord is a common solution when the socket is far away. However, when it comes to using a welder with an extension cord, there are some precautions to consider. Welders consume a significant amount of current, so using a thin-wired extension cord can lead to potential hazards such as fire, circuit breaker tripping, and damage to the welder and power source.
To ensure safety and proper function, it is essential to choose a welder extension cord with the appropriate wire gauge and rated capacity. The wire gauge indicates the thickness of the wire, and it should be able to handle the load of the welder. There are conflicting guidelines regarding the proper wire size, so it’s crucial to purchase a welder that matches the amperage and wire gauge requirements for your specific project.
Welder Extension Cord Sizing
The size or gauge of the wire required for an extension cord depends on the voltage, amperage, and length of the cord that your welder uses. Building codes and regulations set minimum-size requirements to ensure safety. To simplify the process, I’ve created a useful chart that matches your welder’s input voltage and amperage with the corresponding wire gauge based on the extension cord length.
Please note that the American Wire Gauge (AWG) is commonly used to specify wire size. A lower AWG number indicates a thicker wire, while a higher number means a thinner wire. Thicker wires can handle higher amperage loads, while thinner wires are suitable for low-amperage connections.
Assumptions For The Sizing Charts
The wire gauge chart provided assumes that the wire can withstand 60°C and has a maximum voltage drop of 3%. If the rated capacity of the wire is close to its limit, it’s recommended to use the next size up for safety. Additionally, wires rated for higher temperatures can handle higher amperage loads. Please note that the chart only applies to the extension cable providing power to the welder and should not be used for other purposes.
It’s important to use copper wire for the advised gauge sizes, considering that the jacket on the wire used for service applications is thicker, providing better protection and heat retention.
Remember, never use a wire with a higher AWG gauge number than recommended, but you can use a thicker wire (lower AWG gauge number) if needed. The suggestions in the table represent the absolute minimum wire thickness.
Related – The Chicago Welder 90 Amp
Pre-Made Vs Build Your Own Welder Extension Cord
When it comes to getting an extension cord for your welder, you have two options: purchasing a pre-made cord or building your own.
Purchasing a pre-made extension cord is the easiest way to acquire an extension cord for your welder. Simply choose a cord with the appropriate connectors capable of supporting the weight of your welder. Pay attention to the specified ampacity and ensure that the extension cord is oil-resistant.
For example, a heavy-duty 25-foot extension cord with an 8 gauge wire can safely power a 50 amp load, making it suitable for a 120v welder. There are different cable lengths available, such as a 50-foot line with 8 gauge wire capable of carrying 30 amps on either a 120 or 240V source. For a higher amp, 240v welder, a 5-foot line with a 6 gauge wire would be needed.
If you require a longer cable, an 8 gauge, 75-foot length can handle 40 amps at 240 volts without significant voltage drops or overheating. There are even longer and more powerful extension cords available, such as a 100-foot cord with 6 gauge wire transmitting 50 amps at 240V. Keep in mind that longer and more powerful extension cords tend to be more expensive and heavier.
Building Your Own Cord
If you want to save money or cannot find the ideal extension cord for your specific requirements, building your own cord is a viable option. It’s relatively simple to find the necessary wire and plug end. Most welders are capable of welding them together. However, one crucial aspect is sizing the wire correctly, ensuring it can handle the additional load if you plan to use a larger welder in the future. Oversizing the wire is acceptable, but undersizing it is not recommended.
Here are some guidelines to follow when building your own cord:
- Use the shortest extension cord possible as voltage loss and heat production increase with length.
- Opt for a SOOW wire, which is heavy-duty and flexible, suitable for industrial applications.
- Avoid using Romex, as it is not designed for repetitive winding and may break, posing risks of shock or fire. Romex is also not resilient enough to withstand spills and shop abuse.
- Always construct and install grounded cables and outlets. Never use ungrounded wires or outlets.
Matching the appropriate wire gauge with the voltage and amperage of an extension cord welder is crucial to prevent accidents and damage. The correct wire gauge depends on the voltage and amperage that the welder can handle, as well as the length of the cord. Fortunately, there are various ways to determine the suitable wire gauge. Consult the welder’s manual for wire gauge specifications as each type of wire requires specific voltage and amperage.
Understanding wire gauge is essential. A higher gauge number indicates a thinner wire, while a lower number signifies a thicker wire. Thicker wires are ideal for high-amp equipment, while thinner wires are suitable for low-amperage connections. To determine the appropriate wire gauge, consider the length of the cord and the required voltage and amperage for your welder.
Using an extension cord welder offers convenience for welding tasks. You can find extension cords from various online retailers, with prices ranging from $30 to $100. Most pre-made cords come with warranties and have heavy-duty features. Choosing a heavy-duty extension cord with a 6-gauge wire provides flexibility for future use with larger-wattage tools.
When purchasing an extension cord welder, ensure that the wire gauge matches the voltage and current rating for safe and reliable operation. Additionally, a cord with an STW jacket will ensure durability and protect against rust.
Related – What to Look For in a Mig Welder
Knowing the rated capacity of an extension cord is crucial when using it to power a welder. The extension cord should have sufficient amperage to handle the welder’s power requirements and should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. It should also have a thick enough wire to support the weight of the welder. Look for a cord with IS (International Standard) certification to ensure quality.
The rating of an extension cord depends on its amp capacity, power, and voltage. Choosing the right extension cord for your tool is essential for efficient work and to minimize the risk of accidents. Check the amp rating of the extension cord by looking at its AWG number. The wire’s amp capacity is directly related to the cord length and wire gauge. Thicker wires can transfer more power, while thinner wires are suitable for low-current tasks. The wire gauge specification is usually provided in the welder’s manual.
Voltage drop can occur when using an extension cord. Some devices have fixed voltage requirements, while others can be adjusted to accommodate different power flows. To determine the voltage drop of an extension cord, you can use voltage drop calculators that consider factors such as the welder’s electrical ratings, output voltage and current, and more.
The thickness of the electrical wire (gauge) is crucial for efficient welding. Using a smaller gauge wire allows for more efficient welding. It is safer to choose an extension cord with a lower gauge if you are not using an extension cord with a lower gauge than the welder’s output voltage.
In addition to wire gauge, it’s important to ensure that the extension cord has the correct voltage and current ratings. Using the wrong voltage can lead to voltage drop and damage to the welder, blown fuses, or electrical shocks.
For heavy-duty extension cords, look for ones with a NEMA 6-50 connector and plug for safety. When working with a portable welder, choose a model that matches the required voltage and amperage. Consider the wire gauge of the extension cord for welders with higher amp requirements. For example, a 5-foot cord with 6-gauge wire can handle a 240V welder, while a 75-foot cord with 8-gauge wire can carry up to 40 amps. Longer cords, like a 100-foot one, can transmit 50 amps on a 240V supply, but they can be bulky and heavy.
When selecting an extension cord, it’s crucial to consider the wire gauge. Thicker wires have a lower gauge, while thinner wires have a higher gauge. Extension cords typically range from 8 to 12 gauge. Check the gauge rating of the cord and ensure that the wire gauge is not thicker than the welder’s output voltage.
If you desire a thicker wire, you can choose an extension cord with a lower AWG gauge. However, never exceed 24 AWG. Purchasing pre-made extension cords is the easiest way to ensure that the cord meets the requirements of your welder. The cord should be long enough to accommodate the wire load, come with the appropriate plugs, and be oil-resistant.
Heavy-duty extension cords like the MaxWorks 80703 are capable of handling heavier loads. They feature molded ends to prevent fraying and a lighted holder to indicate power. These cords work well with various portable welding equipment and use eight-gauge copper wire with three-phase voltage.
The voltage and amperage ratings of extension cords are crucial. Using an extension cord with a wire that is too thin can lead to malfunctions, while a wire that is too thick may not be compatible with the welder’s input voltage. Ensure that the voltage matches the extension cord’s wire gauge.
When choosing an extension cord for a MIG welder, ensure that it is compatible with the welder’s outlet and made from high-quality materials that offer weather and heat resistance. If you are unsure about the voltage, consider getting a cord with an IS designation.
The extension cord you choose should have the appropriate voltage and amps for safe and efficient welding. It should also be UL-certified to mitigate the risk of electrical shock. For safety reasons, use a cord with a NEMA 6-50 plug. Ensure that the cable has heavy-duty insulation, as it needs to withstand welding and reach your welding jobsite.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you use a pre-made welder extension cord or build your own, selecting the proper wire gauge is crucial to ensure your safety and protect your shop, property, and machinery. The voltage and current draw of your welder, along with the length of the extension cord, are the key factors in choosing the right wire gauge. There are various methods, such as consulting online forums, to determine the necessary wire gauge. However, if you prefer a quick reference, you can use the table provided in this article.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at Tools Working.