extension cords

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RICK NAPIER

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
The secret is to use surge arrestors not plain extension cords. Surge arrestors come in varies lengths with multiple tap ends and are not considered a temporary device. Just don't plug one into another.
 

tryinghard

Senior Member
Location
California
A few years ago I asked our local fire marshal what the greatest causes of fires are, she knew I was an electrician but I did not prod. She answered that it's not something they track but high on the list is extension cords.
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
I think you've all danced around the answer to the question.

The sentiment is that using extension cords for an extended period is a bad idea, and that a receptacle ought to be installed closer to the appliance / utilization equipment / point of use.

Saying "it's not an NEC violation" really isn't an answer. Our responsibility does not stop with the electrical code. Many things - smoke detectors and exit lighting are two examples - are determined by codes other than the NEC. We need to also know those other codes.

The entire distinction between 'appliance' and 'utilization equipment' also becomes moot as soon as we learn that other codes use the words differently, or have different terms (such as 'protable appliances')

Perhaps we can find a clue in my experiences - the only code authority that I have seen make an issue over extension cord use has been the fire marshall. This suggests that the call is based on the fire code.

So, what's wrong with using extension cords? Well, there's the obvious matters of tripping over them, pinching them, or otherwise damage they may receive. Less obvious is the issue of size; it's the rare cord that has #12 or #10 wire in it. Often you can find #16 cords used on 20 amp circuits ...

I believe that this is the primary concern that lies behind UL's issues concerning appliance pigtails; most pigtails are too small for water heaters, etc.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
It is my opinion that cords, unless they are physically attached in some manner to the building or structure, are not "installed" and are outside the scope of the NEC.
I understand that is your opinion but I just cannot reconcile that with at least a dozen sections of the NEC.
590.5 Listing of Decorative Lighting. Decorative lighting
used for holiday lighting and similar purposes, in accordance
with 590.3(B), shall be listed.
There is a section that is in the NEC and clearly applies to cord and plug connected equipment.

The only way I would be able to tell my inspector that section does not apply is to take them to court .... and I bet I would lose as the precedents have long been set with the NEC.
 

RICK NAPIER

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
I did not word my post appropiately. Surge arrestors are tested to a different standard then extension cords and larger wire sizes are required making them more appropriate than extension cords. Here are the restriction on extension cords from the IFC 2009.

605.5 Extension cords. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures, extended through walls, ceilings or floors, or under doors or floor coverings, nor shall such cords be subject to environmental damage or physical impact. Extension cords shall be used only with portable appliances.
605.5.1 Power supply. Extension cords shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap or multiplug adapter and, except for approved multiplug extension cords, shall serve only one portable appliance.605.5.2 Ampacity. The ampacity of the extension cords shall not be less than the rated capacity of the portable appliance supplied by the cord. 605.5.3 Maintenance. Extension cords shall be maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration or damage
605.5.4 Grounding. Extension cords shall be grounded when serving grounded portable appliances.
 

jumper

Senior Member
The secret is to use surge arrestors not plain extension cords. Surge arrestors come in varies lengths with multiple tap ends and are not considered a temporary device. Just don't plug one into another.
I did not word my post appropiately. Surge arrestors are tested to a different standard then extension cords and larger wire sizes are required making them more appropriate than extension cords. Here are the restriction on extension cords from the IFC 2009.

605.5 Extension cords. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures, extended through walls, ceilings or floors, or under doors or floor coverings, nor shall such cords be subject to environmental damage or physical impact. Extension cords shall be used only with portable appliances.
605.5.1 Power supply. Extension cords shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap or multiplug adapter and, except for approved multiplug extension cords, shall serve only one portable appliance.605.5.2 Ampacity. The ampacity of the extension cords shall not be less than the rated capacity of the portable appliance supplied by the cord. 605.5.3 Maintenance. Extension cords shall be maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration or damage
605.5.4 Grounding. Extension cords shall be grounded when serving grounded portable appliances.

Bingo!!!

Have a cigar

 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
...
The only way I would be able to tell my inspector that section does not apply is to take them to court .... and I bet I would lose as the precedents have long been set with the NEC.
I am not so sure you would lose. It is very possible that the courts would throw out a lot of secions of the NEC including most of Article 422. There are panel statements on record that say the NEC ends at the outlet. But then on the other hand the court could see it the other way.

As far as the use of the extension cord having anything to do with my job passing inspection, it shouldn't unless my electricians installed it. I am not resposible for the actions of others.
 

jxofaltrds

Senior Member
Location
Mike P. Columbus Ohio
Occupation
ESI
I am not so sure you would lose. It is very possible that the courts would throw out a lot of secions of the NEC including most of Article 422. There are panel statements on record that say the NEC ends at the outlet. But then on the other hand the court could see it the other way.

As far as the use of the extension cord having anything to do with my job passing inspection, it shouldn't unless my electricians installed it. I am not resposible for the actions of others.
I agree. Cords are personal property not real estate. Doubt if you could limit their proper use.
 

btharmy

Senior Member
Location
Indiana
I agree. Cords are personal property not real estate. Doubt if you could limit their proper use.
No, but the fire marshal can, and does, around these parts. Use anything besides a u.l. listed surge supressor to plug office equipment into and you will be "dinged". Then you can call me to install a new receptacle closer to your equipment. It works out pretty well on my end. I once installed 2 20a receptacles to replace a cord feeding two hot plates in a lab. I picked up the cord (100ft, 14awg, 90ft of it still in a tight coil) my fingerprints were melted into the orange jacket of the cord.
 

jumper

Senior Member
No, but the fire marshal can, and does, around these parts. Use anything besides a u.l. listed surge supressor to plug office equipment into and you will be "dinged". Then you can call me to install a new receptacle closer to your equipment. It works out pretty well on my end. I once installed 2 20a receptacles to replace a cord feeding two hot plates in a lab. I picked up the cord (100ft, 14awg, 90ft of it still in a tight coil) my fingerprints were melted into the orange jacket of the cord.
:)
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
It's entirely possible for something to meet one code and not meet another.

If someone specifically asks about a situation meeting the NEC the answer is about the NEC not some other code that may or may not apply.

As for something in an article 5xx section applying in a general fashion I would suggest it only applies where it specifically says it applies, and not the general case, as previous articles do.
 
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