Space heaters are one of the most useful electrical appliances throughout the world. The primary function of a space heater is to increase the temperature of a particular space it is put into. However, it is not always possible to plug the space heater directly into a wall outlet. Today, we are going to discuss and find out whether one can plug a space heater into an extension cord or not.
Plugging a space heater into an extension cord
It is not completely safe to plug a space heater into an extension cord. Because wrong gauge extension cords can overheat and start a fire if they are used for a space heater. Ten, twelve, and fourteen gauge extension cords with short cable can be used for a space heater.
There are many different types of space heaters available in the market. Let’s take a look at some of them and see if you can plug them into an extension cord.
Portable space heater:
In winter, sometimes the temperature reaches so low that you start to shiver. That is when a portable space heater can jump in to save you from cold temperature. The best thing about a portable space heater is its mobility. You can shift a portable space heater from one room to another to increase the temperature.
Another great thing about a portable space heater is its affordability. This means that it will not cost you a lot to buy a new portable space heat if the old one becomes irreparable. On top of that, portable space heaters do not consume a massive amount of energy. So both the maintenance cost and the operating cost of portable space heaters are not much.
But it is recommended by experts that you plug a portable space heater directly into a wall outlet. Because there are many consequences of plugging a portable space heater into an extension cord. It is important to remember that portable space heaters plugged into an extension cord can create overheating issue.
There has been many fire related accidents because of plugging portable space heaters into an extension cord. So it is not a safe thing to put the portable space heater into the extension cord. The reason behind this is the high amount of electricity needed to run the portable space heater can not be handled by an extension cord.
But it is believed by experts that a heavy duty extension cord might be able to carry electricity to the portable space heater from the wall outlet. Because heavy duty extension cords usually fall in the category of ten/twelve/fourteen gauge extension cords. The specialty of these extension cords are that they have incredibly thick cable that does not overheating due to flow of electricity.
So it is better to plug a portable space heater directly into a wall outlet. But if it is not possible, then a ten/a twelve/a fourteen gauge extension cord will come in handy minimizing the risk of overheat and fire.
Small space heater:
Small space heaters can be a handy electrical appliance when the winter comes. The main purpose of a small space heater is to increase the heat of a certain area. Small space heaters do not possess the ability to heat the entire house. Nut they are very good at heating up small spaces.
You will not have to invest a lot of money in a small space heater. Because it is affordable and energy efficient. Despite being energy efficient, small space heaters should be directly plugged into a wall outlet. Because they require higher amount of electricity compared to other electrical appliances in order to produce heat on a consistent basis.
But many of the experts still believe that it is possible to use an extension cord for a small space heater if you manage to take some precautions. First of all, you will need to use a low gauge extension cord that has thick cable. The gauge number of the extension cord needs to be at least fourteen for safety. A ten or a twelve gauge extension cord will be more suitable for the task.
You will continuously need to check the extension cord cable to find out if it has started overheating. Because an overheated extension cord can lead to fire in the end. The wall outlet is the best option when it comes to plugging a small space heater into. But heavy duty extension cords can be a good alternative if the wall outlet is too far from the small space heater.
Is a 10 gauge extension cord enough for a space heater?
It is believed by experts that a 10 gauge extension cord is usually enough for a space heater. There are valid reasons behind this. First of all, a 10 gauge extension cord has thick enough cables that are suitable for carrying electricity from the wall outlet into the space heater.
You can even use a twelve or a fourteen gauge extension cord for your space heater. But these extension cords have thinner cables compared to a 10 gauge extension cord. While using an extension cord for your space heater, you should always aim for a lower gauge number.
What happens if you plug a space heater into an extension cord?
There are a lot of things that can happen once you plug a space heater into an extension cord. Let’s discuss in detail about some of them.
The extension cord will overheat:
The space heater needs to use a huge amount of electricity to heat up the room. The extension cord does not possess the ability to always handle this massive amount of electricity going through it into the space heater. That is why many of the times the extension cord will overheat. You will need to unplug the space heater from the extension cord once it starts overheating.
There will be fire:
The next step of overheating is fire. If the extension cord overheats to a point where it can not handle it anymore, then there will be a short circuit and a fire. It is not easy to stop a fire that happens due to a short circuit. This is the major reason why experts prohibit the usage of extension cord for a space heater.
Electricity will flow:
There is also a possibility that none of the above things would happen and your space heater will perform its actions proper even when it is plugged into an extension cord. For this to happen, you will need to use a ten gauge extension cord that have short and thick cables.
What kind of extension cord can I use for my space heater?
There are a lot of things that you will need to take into account while choosing an extension cord for your space heater. First of all, the extension cord needs to have thick cables. Thick cables will ensure a smooth flow of electricity in and out of the extension cord. Considering this, ten, twelve and fourteen gauge extension cords are suitable for the space heater.
Secondly, you will need to choose an extension cord that is short in length. Because short cable will make it easier for the electricity to travel through the extension cord.
What gauge extension cord do I need for a space heater? How to measure?
Measuring the gauge of extension cord needed for a space heater might seem like a difficult task if you have no prior experience regarding the matter. However, there are some steps and methods you can follow to accomplish the task.
Extension cord cable’s length:
The length of the extension cord cable is a crucial factor in determining the gauge size. You will need to select an extension cord whose cable does not exceed the twenty five feet mark. Ten, twelve, and fourteen gauge extension cords can be used for a space heater when the cable length is under twenty five feet.
Model of the space heater:
Model of the space heater can also determine the gauge size of extension cord for a space heater. You can get away with using a fourteen or a twelve gauge extension cord for modern day space heaters. But you must use a ten gauge extension cord for older model space heaters.
Nature of the wall outlet:
A space heater needs to be directly plugged into a one hundred and twenty volt wall outlet. When it is not possible, then you will need to settle for an 120v extension cord that will connect the space heater into the wall outlet. The gauge size of an 120v extension cord needs to be 10/12/14.
Experts do not recommend using an extension cord for a space heater due to dire consequences. However, extension cords with 10/12/14 gauge number can handle the flow of electricity needed to produce heat by a space heater. An extension cord should only be used when the wall outlet is out of reach.