A 30-amp extension cord is a cable used to power large appliances and recreational vehicles that need more power than a standard extension cord can provide. The word "amp" refers to the unit of constant electrical current needed to power something. So, what needs 30 amps of electrical power and when would you need an extension cord to access it? Consider this brief guide your answer to that question.
When Do You Need a 30-Amp Extension Cord?
What happens when you plug in an appliance that needs more power than your outlet can provide? The breaker pops. In the same vein, when you use an extension cord that cannot handle the electrical current provided by a 30-amp plug, you will not have sufficient power to run your equipment.
When might you need 30 amps and an extension cord to access it? The most common example is to power an RV. Most RVs come with a 30- or 50-amp electrical system. A 30-amp system does not have a heavy electrical load, so you mostly see those with a smaller RV carrying minimal accessories. To power your RV at home or camp, you need a cord that can handle the wattage of a 30-amp plug.
How Much Power Do You Get With a 30-Amp Cord?
A 30-amp circuit provides up to 3,600 watts of power. That is substantially more than the orange cord you see in every garage can handle safely. A common mistake people make is to use adapters to connect a smaller extension cord to a larger plug. While the adapter may allow you to physically plug it in, the cord gauge is likely insufficient to handle the amps that will run through it.
What Gauge Size Do You Need?
The gauge of an extension cord refers to the diameter of the conductors within the cord. The most common sizes and the amps that can safely pass through them are:
- A 14-gauge cord carries 15 amps.
- A 12-gauge cord carries 20 amps.
- A 10-gauge cord carries 30 amps.
- An 8-gauge cord carries 40 amps.
If you use an adapter to connect a 14- or 12-gauge cord to an RV that needs 30 amps, the voltage will drop, decreasing the amount of power you receive and making it impossible to keep all your appliances running. Additionally, the cord will likely heat up, creating a potential fire hazard. At a minimum, you need a 10-gauge cord, such as this heavy-duty 30-amp 250-volt generator extension cord from GearIT, designed for RV outdoor use.
Will Length Affect the Power?
Extension cords can reach as far as 100 feet. The longer the cord is, the higher risk for voltage drops. Limit your cord length to no more than what you need whenever possible.