How to Use Extension Cords with a Portable Generator?

Mas Broto

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How to Use Extension Cords with a Portable Generator

The generator’s extension cord is used to get power from the generator to the devices that are plugged in. Electronics can’t be plugged straight into the generator outlet, so you need an extension cord to connect them. There are different lengths and thicknesses of these cords, but many of them can’t be used with portable generators. It is important to choose an extension cords that works well because if you don’t, you could hurt the devices and generator.

A portable generator is much easier to set up than a standby generator, which needs a lot of work to set up. You can also take it with you when you go camping or to a tailgate party. It’s not just for powering your house. But because they are small and compact, they aren’t good for running big appliances. However, you can get the most out of a small generator by managing power.

When picking a portable generator for your home, you should think about how much power you use and how to connect it safely. Read on to find out how to use extension cords with a portable generator and to use it safely.

Managing Portable Generator & Extension Cords

When you want to power things like your furnace, lights, and water pump that are hardwired and part of your home’s electrical system, you may run into problems. Indoor items must be powered by a transfer switch that is hardwired into the electrical system of your home. Only outdoor power items with extension cords are directly connected to your portable generator.

Extension cord for a generator

A portable generator’s extension cords are only meant to power things outside. A transfer switch is the best way to power things inside. If you use an extension cord to temporarily power things inside, you increase the chance that poisonous carbon monoxide gas from the engine’s exhaust will get in through any opening in the cord. Also, bringing extension cords into your home from outside through windows, doors, or vents can damage the cords and make them a shock or fire hazard.

Install a home transfer switch the next time you use the generator. Make sure your extension cord can handle the weight of all the devices you connect to it, so you don’t overload it.

Extend a Panel Extension Cord

This extension cord with multiple outlets keeps many cords from getting tangled up. This heavy-duty extension cord plugs into your portable generator’s 30 amp, 240v outlet and sends up to 7200 watts of power to multiple outlets.

How to Choose the Right Extension Cord for Portable Generator?

First, you should think about whether you want to use your portable generator as a backup power source or for fun. That’s because you need to make sure that the gauge (the thickness of the wire) and length are right for your needs. As a general rule, you shouldn’t use a longer extension cord than you need. If you want to use it for fun, you can use a shorter cord. For emergency power, the unit needs to be at least 20 feet from your house.

Another thing to think about is the size of the cord. Heavy-gauge cords are made to work over longer distances and with more power. The heavier the gauge of an extension cord needs to be to handle the current flow, the more amperage you are pulling through it.

Many cords in stores are sold by “duty,” which means they are either light, heavy, or extra heavy duty. If you want to power a circular saw, you might need something extra strong. For a party, you will need heavy-duty to power a heavy-duty equipment. A light-duty cord is all you need to power lights or small appliances.

Also, the cord’s amperage rating must at least be able to handle the outlet’s amperage rating. This is important so that both the extension cord and the generator don’t get too full.

How to safely use a portable generator?

Always ask an expert what you should and shouldn’t do to keep yourself and your family safe. As we already said, you should never run a portable generator inside so that you don’t get sick from carbon monoxide or your house catches on fire if something goes wrong. Other rules about safety are:

  • If you use extension cords for portable generator, make sure they are made to handle heavy loads.
  • You should never try to connect a generator to a wall outlet without a transfer switch. The only safe way to connect a generator to your home is to use a transfer switch.
  • Always have an electrician check your connection to make sure the wiring is not broken.
  • Put the generator somewhere dry to avoid getting electrocuted.
  • If you need to refuel the generator, turn off all appliances and let the unit cool down.
  • Keep the area clear of anything that can catch on fire, including the generator’s fuel, and always let the engine cool down before putting the generator away.
Mas Broto

Written by: Mas Broto

Mas Broto is a small business owner with 30 years experience in the real estate industry. He is the founder and editor of, the most comprehensive free home improvement website on the planet!