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Can You Use an Extension Cord for a Pool Pump?

We organize our home in such a way to suit our comfort and entertainment. Many homes have gardens in front of them, pools and many other extensions that compliments the beauty of their homes.

However, it is important to know the necessary rules of maintenance for things like pool pump. This article discusses on how to properly operate a pool pump.

Using an extension cord for a pool pump

An extension cord can be used for a pool pump, but the extension cord must be thick enough with a thickness between 12 or 10 gauge to ensure sufficient power supply. However, you need to ensure that the extension cord is not longer than 100 feet and the cord must be on a GFCI protected circuit.

If your pool pump’s wire cannot reach the pool, you might need to use an extension cord to make it reach the destination, but not all extension cords are sufficient to relay power to the pool pump.

Therefore, in order to use an extension cord for your pool pump, you need to make sure that the extension cord is thick enough – have a gauge size of 8, 10 or 12 – to be capable of delivering the necessary power to the pump.

Besides the thickness, the length of the cord is another important factor because – the heating of the wire increases with length. The length of the cord should be at most 100 feet – wires that are any longer would start overheating.

For safety, you should also use a GFCI a.k.a. Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter protected circuit.

Before picking your extension cord, you need to also check the labels on the pump and read its ratings such as amperage and volt usage.

Many pool pumps have different power demands due to difference in features – so it is important to factor those in and pick the right extension cord.

The standard extension cord for use with pool pumps range between 8,10 and 12 gauge. Pool pumps usually operate at a horsepower between 0.5 to 2 with the average pool pump operating at 1 horsepower and 120 volts.

Therefore, these pumps need to have a constant supply of power within 10-12 amps. The larger the pump is, the more amperage it requires and you would need thicker wires to accommodate for the power supply.

Using the standard extension cords would be a big mistake because their thickness is usually 16 or 18 gauge – which is very thin and incapable of supplying power to high-power demanding devices such as pool pumps.

As a result, these thin extension cords result in overheating and fires – not only that, they also put your pool pump at risk.

For your average pool pump, you should use a 10 gauge or thicker extension cord if you have a large pool. Larger pools have more water that needs circulation and thus the pump would require lots of power.

Another factor to consider is the presence of saltwater system in your pool – if there’s one present, then the energy demand increases even more.

If you connect multiple devices along with the pool pump, you need to make sure the cord can accommodate such high-power demand and thus the 10-gauge wire is the standard wire size – but you should switch to thicker ones if the demand rises.

Is it safe to use an extension cord for a pool pump?

It is safe to use an extension cord with your pool pump if you use the right cord, with the right gauge size – your pool pump can operate perfectly without any issues.

But if you do use an extension cord for your pool pump – the pump’s warranty will be voided.

The manufacturer only warranties the pump’s performance if the defect is due to manufacturer – tampering with its power supply might compromise its motor and cause other unpredictable damage.

Since any damages done to the pool pump due to the use of extension cord is outside the bounds of the manufacturer, that would void the warranty.

But apart from that factor, there is no greater risk to using a 10 gauge or higher sized extension cord to your pump.

If the extension cord is able to meet the power demands of the pool pump without becoming overheated – then your pool pump can be used safely without any issues.

What kind of extension cord do I need for a pool pump?

There are many extension cords found at your local hardware and electronic store, but most of them are for use with low-power demanding appliances and thus have a gauge size of 16 or 18.

Extension cord such as these do not have the capacity to supply electricity of higher amperage and an attempt to do so would result in an overheated and molten wire.

Therefore, it is crucial that you choose your extension cord wisely for your pool pump – in general, it is suggested you use extension cords of gauge sizes 8,10 or 12.

Most pool pumps operate at 1 horsepower, reaching 2 horsepower at max. These pumps require 10-12 amps of power to run and for that – a 10-gauge wire should be more than enough.

However, there are certain factors that you need to keep in mind while choosing the cord such as the pool size, saltwater system and any additional pool appliances that may be present.

As the energy demand increases, you need to use a cord with a thickness greater than a 10-gauges.

What happens if you use an extension cord for a pool pump?

If the right extension cord is not used, there could be many bad consequences. Many people might compromise on the extension cord and use one which cannot deliver power properly.

Below listed are the consequences to using an incompatible extension cord with your pool pump:

Overheating and burnout:

Thin extension cords cannot supply sufficient power to the pool pump and therefore, when used with a pool pump – the pump tries to get more power out of the power supply.

And when this high amperage power flows through the wire, it gets overheated and unable to supply sufficient power.

As a result, the pool pump has a power shortage and starts to overheat – staying in that state for extended periods would cause its internal parts to burn out and be damaged.

Voided warranty:

Since using an extension cord is not recommended by the manufacturers, using the extension cord with the pool pump would end up voiding the warranty.

If you encounter any issues with the pump later on, the manufacturer would refuse to repair.

Not for permanent use:

Overheating of the wire makes the wire and the insulation wear upon use. The more you use the extension cord for your pool pump – the more its insulation falls apart and the copper inside melts.

Pose electric risk:

If the insulation fell apart and exposed the copper wire underneath, it could cause dangerous electrocution to anyone who might come in contact.

Tripping risk:

Tripping risks are common if extension cords are lying about in the ground, but what makes it dangerous is using a thin cord would cause it to be overheated.

Stepping on such a hot cord would not only pose a tripping risk but may also cause burns.

What gauge extension cord do I need for a pool pump? How to measure?

You need to carefully factor in different elements before buying an extension cord for your pool pump. Below are the steps needed to determine and measure which extension cord is suitable for your pool pump:

Minimum gauge requirements:

According to the NEC, the minimum wire size for pool pumps has to be 12 gauge or less. In addition, the extension cord has to be routed through a conduit as well.

Distance between pool and the power source:

The length of the extension cord should not exceed 100 feet; therefore, you need to measure the distance between the pool and the power source to ensure that the distance is within range.

If the distance is greater, you need to use a thicker wire with lower gauge size.

Pool size:

The power demand increases with pool size, since more water needs circulation. Use a thicker wire of 10 or 8 gauge if your pool is large.

Pump’s power demand:

One of the most important factors to check is the power demand of the pump.

Pumps usually have a power rating of 115 VAC or 230 VACS so a 115 VAC pump would require more power – thus a thicker wire needed to accommodate it the additional power demand it has.

Final Thoughts

A pool pump can be powered by an extension cable, but the extension cord needs to be sufficiently thick between 12 and 10 gauge to ensure enough power supply. The extension cord must, however, be on a GFCI-protected circuit and cannot exceed a length of 100 feet.