Best Extension Cords for Generator | Top 5 Picks in 2020

best extension cord for generatorIt’s not until you absolutely need one that you’ll start thinking about extension cords. Be it stringing up holiday lights, using your leaf blower, or connecting appliances/devices to inconveniently positioned outlets, you can enjoy numerous, invaluable applications from an extension cord.

The best extension cord for generator is particularly important to find. You can’t plug certain electronics and appliances directly into a generator outlet; in those times, an extension cord is indispensable.

But what makes a good extension cord? It must be flexible yet strong, durable yet versatile, and of course, there are electrical concerns to be accounted for, as well.

Yes, it can be confusing. But we’re here to help! Find our top picks and buying guide below.

1. Yellow Jacket GIDDS-283429 2885 Contractor Extension Cord

Highlighted Features

  • Available in 25 feet, 50 feet, and 100 feet length variations
  • Lighted ends make it easy to keep track
  • Plugs are durably built with clear-molded material
  • Bright yellow color reduces potential safety hazards
  • Durable jacket resistant to grease, oil, abrasions, and moisture 

Yellow Jacket GIDDS-283429 2885 Contractor Extension CordOur first pick is the highly-rated Yellow Jacket contractor extension cord. With its durable and highly resistant body and heavy-duty capabilities, it’s easy to see how this extension cord got its good reputation.

First, let’s look at some specs. This extension cord comes with a 12-gauge body and a 3-pronged plug, and it measures 100 feet in length (although other lengths are also available).

But one of the things that really make this extension cord stand out is its yellow jacket. No, it’s not just there for branding purposes; this jacket is superbly constructed, and it’s resistant to all forms of harmful external influences: grease, oil, moisture, abrasion … you name it.

What’s more, because of its bright yellow color, it’ll be very easy to keep track of the extension cord. And speaking of visibility, the clear-molded ends of this extension cord are both lighted—and they’ve been dubbed Powerlite, quite catchy— which lets you know when the cord is on.

What’s more, you can expect this extension cord to stand up to high temperatures, as well. This not only makes it one of the best outdoor extension cords out there but also certifies it for use by contractors and in heavy-duty applications.

And you can make those heavy-duty applications without worrying for your safety because this cord meets OSHA requirements and is also UL- and CUL-listed. Yes, it’s a little expensive, but the price is just a reflection of quality. All in all, it seems you can’t go wrong with the Yellow Jacket.

2. Southwire 2549SWUSA1 - 12 Gauge Extension Cord

Highlighted Features

  • Flexible jacket resistant against moisture, abrasion, and sunlight
  • Blades have been reinforced for dependable durability and strength
  • Versatile: designed for use both indoors and outdoors
  • For the patriot: Durable vinyl jacket in American flag colors

Southwire 2549SWUSA1 Extension CordOur next pick is from Southwire, and it also comes very highly rated. We love this one mainly for its versatility, high performance, durability, and, finally, affordability. Yep, there’s a lot to love about this extension cord.

First off, you can tell just by looking at this guy that it’s made for heavy-duty use. With a prominent red-blue-white vinyl jacket (could you tell it was American-made? We sure couldn’t), this 12-gauge extension cord holds up impressively to not only abrasion and moisture but also sunlight.

The blades on the plugs of this extension cord have been reinforced for extra durability so that worries about breaking/bending will be in the past. Not only is this cord durable and weatherproof, but it’s built for convenience, as well, with clearly visible lighted ends.

What’s even better is that despite its heavy-duty build and applications, this cord is suitable for use indoors as well. So whether you’re working on a jobsite, trying to put up some lights on the patio, or looking for an extension cord for leaf blower, this one is a top pick.

And of course, this cord also comes with safety certifications: it’s OSHA and NEC compliant, and its connectors are water-resistant as well. To top it all off, the cord is available at a competitive price, as well. No complaints there!

3. Yellow Jacket 2805 10/3 Heavy-Duty Contractor Extension Cord

Highlighted Features

  • The durable and sturdy jacket is resistant to high temperatures
  • The bright yellow jacket helps you keep track of the cord
  • A powerlite indicator light lets you know when the cord is operational
  • Durable and clear-molded plugs are oversized for stability
  • Ideal for use with heavy-duty tools and equipment; perfect for contractors

Yellow Jacket 2805 Heavy-Duty Contractor Extension CordYep, we’re back with another Yellow Jacket extension cord, and for a good reason! The last one we reviewed by them is undoubtedly one of the best extension cords out there, but the 2805 is ideal for very heavy-duty applications.

You’ll be able to recognize a lot of the great Yellow Jacket features we’ve already covered, such as the large, clear-molded plugs. These are built for high durability and are resistant to bending and breakage, to boot. The lighted ends let you know when the cord is on and ready to run.

Then we have the trademark yellow jacket itself. Because it’s so bright, you’ll have an easy time keeping an eye on it; you can rest easy about potential thefts, and prevent tripping on the jobsite.

Speaking of jobsites, it’s worth noting that this extension cord is only recommended for heavy-duty use: with a 10-gauge body, it’s extremely thick, and its 3-prong plug is capable of providing 15 amps, 125 volts, and 1625 watts. Plus, it’s available in 50-foot and 100-foot variations.

But with such heavy-duty applications, safety becomes an even bigger concern than usual. Worry not, because this extension cord is UL listed. So go ahead and hook up your heavy-duty tools and equipment with this extension cord. It won’t let you down!

4. Century Contractor Grade 10 Gauge Power Extension Cord

Highlighted Features

  • 10 gauge cord allows for heavy-duty usage
  • Measures 100 feet in length, ideal for jobsite usage
  • Flexible body with a bright neon orange jacket
  • Plugs have lighted ends that inform you when the cord is on
  • 3-pronged plug with 15 amp extension
  • Resistant to moisture, water, fire and temperature changes

Century Contractor Grade 10 Gauge Power Extension CordOur penultimate pick is one of the most popular contractor-grade extension cords out there, and it’s from Century. Measuring 100 feet with 10 gauges of thickness, this cord is well-suited for both indoors and outdoors use. So here’s what we like about it.

First off, we love the construction of this thing. It comes with a flame- and water-resistant jacket, which itself comes in a bright neon orange color for high visibility.

The plugs on this extension cord have been molded for stability and durability, while on their backs are 5/8″ strain reliefs, which allow them to stay securely in place.

The 10 gauge body of this extension cord makes it ideal for heavy-duty use, but its long 100-foot length and flexibility combine to make it suitable for indoor use as well. Furthermore, both plugs come with lighted ends, so you’ll always know what’s up.

Now, it’s worth noting that this is one of the most affordable extension cords out there; if you’re on a budget, this is the one to go for. However, the low price comes at the cost of lower durability; while the cord offers great performance, it might not do so for a very long time.

5. Century Contractor Grade 50 ft 10 Gauge Power Extension Cord

Highlighted Features

  • Ideal for heavy-duty use with specs of 10 gauge and 50 feet
  • Comes with plugs that light up when the cord is active
  • The heavy-duty jacket is resistant to flame and moisture
  • The neon green jacket allows for high visibility

Century Contractor Grade 50 ft 10 Gauge Power Extension CordThe last extension cord we have selected for your consideration today is also from Century. Not only does it come highly rated, but it’s also available at a great price. Here’s what you can expect from this extension cord.

Measuring 50 feet, this extension cord comes with a 10/3 outlet and has a bright and noticeable neon green jacket. The jacket, in turn, is made to be resistant to all sorts of harmful external influences you can imagine, and yes, that includes fire and water.

Because this is a 15-amp, 10-gauge extension cord, it’s ideal for heavy-duty usage. Its plugs have light-up ends, which are activated when the cord is active. No more frantic exclamations of “Is it on?”

Century is undoubtedly the brand to turn to if you’re searching for a reliable extension cord on a budget. Although long-term durability might be a concern, we think it’s a reasonable trade-off for the kind of dependable performance you can expect from this thing.

Also Read: Best Generator Transfer Switch Reviews | Electrician Picks

Buying Guide for Extension Cord for Generator

It can be difficult to decide which extension cords are most worth your consideration; beyond conveying electricity, the cord must also be durable and reliable. As long as you keep the following factors in mind during your purchase, though, you should be fine.

Length and Gauge

As you can imagine, extension cords are available in a number of different sizes. The size of an extension cord also determines to a considerable extent its load capacity. This load capacity, in turn, is dictated by two factors: the wire's length, and its gauge.

Length

The extension cord's length influences the voltage drop. The voltage drop measures how much voltage is lost due to the cord wires' resistance. The voltage drop increases with the length of the extension cord. So regardless of its gauge, a longer cord is relatively weaker than a shorter one.

Gauge

The gauge is a numerical rating that denotes the diameter of the copper wire inside the extension cord. Generally, the American Wire Gauge identification system is followed for gauges.

For example, if a cord is said to be 12 AWG, that means it has 12-gauge wires inside. When referring to the AWG system, remember that the smaller the figure, the thicker the wire.

In simpler terms, the gauge is a measure of the thickness (or diameter) of the wire. The cord's gauge determines how much current the wire is able to handle and how much it will heat up.

Capacity

Extension cords are rated in 3 different ways for their capacity: light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty. Below we outline the intended uses for each type.

Light-Duty

Light-duty extension cords typically come with only two plug prongs and usually don't come with a third wire and prong for grounding. Light-duty extension cords should not be used for heavy-duty applications. This means that you can go ahead and use them with devices such as clocks and lamps.

Whatever you do, never use a light-duty extension cord on an electronic device that draws more than 7 amps.

Medium-Duty

Extension cords rated for medium-duty come with a third wire and plug prong, which allows them to be grounded. Their plugs are usually also able to accept three-prong grounded cords from other appliances. You can use them with electronics such as your television or computer.

Heavy-Duty

And finally, the kind of extension cord that we've covered here today: heavy-duty ones! These can draw from between 10 to 15 amps of power, and are grounded with a third wire and plugs with three slots.

Indoor / Outdoor

If you haven't figured it out by now, not all extension cords are created equal. While some extension cords are designed for indoor use, some are designed for outdoor use.

What sets them apart? Well, the best outdoor extension cords are those that are able to contend with harsh external influences, such as extreme cold or heat, while indoor extension cords are made for light- to medium-duty use. The main differences are detailed below.

Length / Gauge

As per our discussion of gauge earlier, you should by now have a good idea of why it matters. The lower the gauge, the thicker the wire, and the more suitable for outdoor use. In terms of indoor extension cords, you can go for a higher gauge.

While indoor cables are usually limited to 25 feet in length, outdoor cables can go up to 100 feet.

Insulation

In order to be able to contend with harsh externalities (such as temperature changes or moisture), outdoor extension cords are usually equipped with heavier insulation.

Indoor extension cords, on the other hand, don't need such high levels of insulation. However, this also means that you can't use an indoor extension cord outside, as it can be damaged quite easily.

Type of Plug

As indoor cords are designed for light- to medium-duty use, they typically only have a two-prong plug. Outdoor cords, on the other hand, usually also have a third prong. This is called a "grounding wire," and it reduces electrical safety hazards such as fire or shock.

Flexibility

In our eyes, an extension cord is rendered pointless if its body isn't flexible. A rigid cord is not only less maneuverable but can pose safety concerns, as well. Plus, a flexible cord is easy to store, as it can be coiled up and stowed away.

FAQs for Extension Cord for Generator

1. What is an extension cord?

Extension cords are long, flexible power cables with 1 or more sockets on one end and a plug on the other. They allow you to extend a power supply beyond its limited physical location.

2. Can extension cords be dangerous?

Yes. Inside each extension cord are numerous insulated electrical wires. When current flows, heat is generated; too much heat can melt the wires' insulation, which in turn can cause fires or short circuits.

3. Why does the gauge of the extension cord matter?

An extension cord's gauge measurement determines how much heat it can handle. If your extension cord is too small for its intended use, it might limit the power required, causing dangerous overheating.

4. What gauge extension cord is most suitable for use with portable generators?

You should go for a 12 gauge extension cord for use with your portable generator.

5. How do I know if my extension cord is overloading/overheating?

Some warning signs are: a very warm/hot extension cord, a tripping circuit breaker, or uncommon sounds from the connected electronics.

6. Can I use a three-pronged appliance with a two-prong extension cord?

In theory, you can; however, it's dangerous, so we don't recommend it.

Conclusion

We don’t like to play favorites, but if you asked us to choose one best extension cord for generator, we’d have to go with the Yellow Jacket 2805. It's built for durability and offers high performance.

If you're on a budget, though, you should opt for the Century 10-gauge extension cord.

 Good luck!
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