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Home made extension cord

Home made extension cord

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I made this extension cord myself using 1.5mm2 industrial grade heavy duty cable with a rating of 1kV. This cable is also available as three phase and in various sizes, 1.5mm2 is the smallest. Industrial cables have red and black internal wires unlike regular cables which uses brown and blue.

I could have easily used 1mm2 cable, however 1.5mm2 carries up to 15A which is in excess of 10A which this cord is rated for. The plug and socket is by Clipsal and the cable is manufactured by Electra cables.

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Filename:DSC02458.JPG
Album name:Mercurylamps / Electrical
Keywords:Miscellaneous
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Date added:Jul 15, 2017
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Date Time:2017:07:15 16:26:07
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Ash
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Jul 15, 2017 at 07:03 AM Author: Ash
Awesome !



I made me a few big extension cables with 50m 2.5mm2 flex and IEC 60309 plugs/sockets, plus a few splitter boxes and adapters between IEC 60309 and the standard plug/sockets using shorter pieces of 2.5mm2

This way the entire cable run (made of few sections plugged into each other) is really capable of 16A+ continuous, with only the ordinary plugs at the beginning/end of it being the limiting factors, and i can also connect it in a tree layout using the splitter boxes

Next i'd also make a 3 Phase to 3 separate outputs splitter so i can take power from 3 Phase receptacles, 32A to 16A adapters, and a breaker + RCD box that can plug inline with the cable, to provide 16A protection with the 32A adapters or in case i use it somewhere where i dont trust the local protections

This cable in its full length allready helped once to fix a friends car, who got stranded with it within 200-ish m from the house. We needed drill, grinder and lighting. There was intermittent light rain, which was not a problem for the cable with few interconnections along the run (yet another advantage of IEC 60309, they are IP44 waterproof). Then we would just place the socket end of the cable and the tools in the car and wait in the car when it starts raining, and get out and resume work when it stops

Next i'd also make a 3 Phase to 3 separate outputs splitter so i can take power from 3 Phase receptacles, 32A to 16A adapters, and a breaker + RCD box that can plug inline with the cable, to provide 16A protection with the 32A adapters or in case i use it somewhere where i dont trust the local protections
Mercurylamps
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Jul 15, 2017 at 07:39 AM Author: Mercurylamps
Ash you are like me, you like to use cables rated higher than the actual load which I think is great practice. I have various lengths in use at home and I even have one of these 1.5mm2 extension cords powering a oil filled heater at full 10A with the extension cord without the extension cord itself heating up.
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Jul 15, 2017 at 07:43 AM Author: Beta 5
I too like the use of cables higher than the load they will ever have to carry, it seems safer and just more proper

Thorn Beta 5 35W SOX :lps: Top entry/Side entry :soxltrn:

Mercurylamps
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Jul 15, 2017 at 07:59 AM Author: Mercurylamps
Exactly, just about everywhere I go I see extension cords made out of barely adequate light duty cable while a heavy duty cable can take a lot of abuse and this cable also has thick insulation, rated to 1kV.
Ash
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Jul 15, 2017 at 08:32 AM Author: Ash
With extension cables at any significant load (allready well below 10A), the entire cable length must be unrolled and spread loosely over some floor area. Many peeps dont do this (they only pull from the reel as much as called for by length), and as result damage the part of the cable that remained on the reel

1.5mm2 unrolled on cool floor is good for up to ~13A and 2.5mm2 up to ~20A. But there are some secondary effects at work :

- Many modern cables are not really the cross section they are claimed to be (or the correct cross section but not pure Copper, so higher resistivity, which have the same effect)

- Circuit breakers dont trip exactly at their rated current, and take quite long time at higher currents. So the 1.5mm cable is to be used with 10A breaker and 2.5mm2 with 16A breaker, because they are going to let through 13A and 20A respectively for quite a while

- When there is imperfect connection somewhere and little extra heat dissipation (the case when connection is fair but not perfect, not when it is blatantly bad), the Copper wire conducts part of the heat away from the connection and spreads it over some length of the wire, which acts as a heatsink. If the excessive heat is small, this is barely but sufficient to prevent things from going melty. When cables are used at the max possible current for the continuous conductor, this means that they won't tolerate any little extra heat near a terminal. So this little extra forgiveness that sometimes saves the day is lost. Unless you do your own connections, noone knows how well are the wires connected... Factory made extension cables often have exactly that - not "bad" but less than perfect connections, so their ratings should be taken with caution



You can push wires hard when you know what you are doing - when the cooling conditions for the cable are right and when the load is switched for limited time, in which the cable does not get hot

But with extension cables i make "for any unpredictable use", i want to make them so they would take anything i throw at them without doubt. Maybe i will knowingly push them hard with some load which i cant foresee, in an occasion which i cant foresee, and i want them to be able to withstand that. So i use the 2.5mm2 of good manufacturer, and IEC 16A rated connectors from good manufacturer, all of which can really handle ~20A

About the standard plug/socket at the ends of the cable i cant do much, but that is why i made them as adapters, so i only have to use them in the ends, and not in all the inbetween connections when i use many sections of the cable together. And if they burn up from an overload i will only have to repair them and not everything along the cables
streetlight98
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Jul 15, 2017 at 10:08 AM Author: streetlight98
Nice! I used to make my own shorter cords by buying long extension cords and chopping them into short ones. Cheaper than buying multiple shorter cords to begin with.

Please check out my newly-updated website! McCann Lighting Company is where my street light collection is displayed in detail.

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Jul 15, 2017 at 05:36 PM Author: Lodge
Nice cord , and it's smart to use a larger gauge wire then powering a light cord to the maximum ratings, I just built a 100 foot cord with 2.6mm (10 AWG) wire, it's heavy and can run 30 amps, but when using it with a generator to power tools I've also found the breakers don't trip any more like they used to with the 1.3 mm (16 AWG) wires, and with a generator 100 feet away makes the work-site so much quieter..

I wish I could get nice clear plug ends like the ones you used, in a NEMA 5-20 or twistlock configuration, because I would add a tiny green neon and resistor to show it has power inside the plug end and light it up, which is also great for finding them at night..
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Jul 15, 2017 at 06:28 PM Author: Mercurylamps
Thanks guys, I have made these extension cords in various lengths and I definitely keep cords uncoiled while in use. I also have a couple of wind up cords as well. Clear plugs are standard here but other colours are available for special order. I think clear plugs are common with industrial equipment as it allows electricians to inspect the internal connections and wires before using. I think a neon indicator is a fantastic idea.

Someday I'll post the cross section of the cable I used compared to the average extension cord.
streetlight98
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Jul 15, 2017 at 08:36 PM Author: streetlight98
I've seen some cords that actually have a neon indicator inside the female end of the cord. The ones I've seen had orange indicators and were flickery. I've never seen a wire-on plug with an indicator light though. Would be cool to see.

Please check out my newly-updated website! McCann Lighting Company is where my street light collection is displayed in detail.

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Jul 15, 2017 at 08:39 PM Author: Mercurylamps
Yeah I've seen some premade cords at the store with the built in indicators too but never though about adding one into custom made ones. The flickery ones you mention sounds like neon indicators or perhaps LED without any smoothing from the 50/60Hz.
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Jul 15, 2017 at 09:16 PM Author: Lodge
Streetlight98 :> Leviton does make them in both male and female with a tiny green neon, they are nice but expensive for what your getting and they only come the 15 Amp version, and even though they claim it will accept a 12 AWG wire good luck with that, it's a real pain, they are really made for 16 AWG I did it with 10 AWG and needed a drill and a few modifications and normally I can wire a plug in like 2 mins and those ones took like an hour, but if they made north american plug ends in a transparent case like the ones above it would be real easy to just drop in a small neon/resistor combo to the live and neutral and let it shine through the cover and you can get real small neon indicator lamps so they should fit..

And you can get led lighted 20 amps from ericson but they start at $50 each so if you need two you might as well buy a pre-made cord from someone like yellow-jacket and get the wire basically for free..

Mercurylamps, yep they are neon indicators and if they are flickery they are getting old, and they will flicker worse as it gets darker, if you shine a blue led at them they should stay constant, all neon lamps suffer from a Dark Effect..
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Jul 15, 2017 at 09:50 PM Author: Mercurylamps
I'm going to add a small neon and resistor in future extension cords thanks to that excellent idea. I could individually heatshrink the wires and then encase the entire neon in a clear heatshrink for protection too.
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Jul 15, 2017 at 10:00 PM Author: Lodge

I'm going to add a small neon and resistor in future extension cords thanks to that excellent idea. I could individually heatshrink the wires and then encase the entire neon in a clear heatshrink for protection too.


I like the heat shrink idea, and I'll add to that I would put a dot of clear silicone in the ends of the tube then heat shrink it down, so it's waterproof, not that I leave the cord in water but the odd time it does get rained on..
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Jul 16, 2017 at 03:23 AM Author: AngryHorse
Nice job, its usually actually cheaper to `build` your own extension lead like this , I once made a heavy duty one, about 30 metres long, using 3 x 4mm singles banded together, it was used for when my brother in law use to do a lot of arc welding at the bottom of his garden!

Current: UK 230V, 50Hz
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Street lighting in our town: Philips UniStreet LED

"Beauty fades, dumb is forever".......Judge Judy :D

Mercurylamps
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Jul 16, 2017 at 03:34 AM Author: Mercurylamps
Oh yes, far cheaper to make your own high quality extension cord than buy a store grade one that may be questionable with the quality. I bought a cord one time that had an intermittent earth connection.
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Jul 16, 2017 at 04:14 AM Author: AngryHorse
Yeah, the shop bought ones are pants!, the worse being the 4 way cheaper ones, I fail loads on the PAT test at work each year, once people have had 2KW heaters and the likes in them, they start to get brown `melt` marks around the holes!

Current: UK 230V, 50Hz
Power provider: e.on energy
Street lighting in our town: Philips UniStreet LED

"Beauty fades, dumb is forever".......Judge Judy :D

Mercurylamps
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Jul 17, 2017 at 04:40 AM Author: Mercurylamps
What else scares me with them is electronic stores doubling up those 4/6 way extension cords to power their stuff on display. It all adds up quickly.
Ash
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Jul 17, 2017 at 01:16 PM Author: Ash
It still comes down to the cable quality. They will have hard time loading one with 10A with electronics. The problem is the cables that cant do 10A
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Jul 17, 2017 at 02:59 PM Author: Beta 5

Yeah, the shop bought ones are pants!, the worse being the 4 way cheaper ones, I fail loads on the PAT test at work each year, once people have had 2KW heaters and the likes in them, they start to get brown `melt` marks around the holes!


What causes them to fail the test?

Thorn Beta 5 35W SOX :lps: Top entry/Side entry :soxltrn:

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Jul 17, 2017 at 05:30 PM Author: Lodge

What causes them to fail the test?


They fail the visual inspections in the PAT test, This is a process of simply looking at the cable and the plug for any obvious signs of damage.

If they are going brown and melting it's not hard to spot the bad cord, but if you use properly rated or overrated cords this is rarely a problem, I've lost more cords to sunlight attacking the covering then to overloading them which is why I use 10 AWG on 20 amp circuits it's rated to 30 Amps, and I haven't lost many feet to sun light either, and I will just chop it out and make shorter cords, I also like twistlock plugs so people don't borrow them either..
Ash
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Jul 17, 2017 at 08:16 PM Author: Ash
Use outdoors rated cable if they are used outdoors long enough to be damaged from Sun light..

Problem with the visual inspection is that if the cable wasnt loaded significantly before, it won't show up. Then there is the problem that sometimes connection is not "bad" but jsut unreliable. It is ok and appears to handle the load, then you move the cable around and then it becomes "bad" or breaks completely or starts arcing
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Jul 17, 2017 at 08:55 PM Author: Lodge
Ash I do, but I need them flexible at -40 so and the lower temp cables don't seem to last as long in the sun they will last several years outside but over time the insulation starts to get brittle in spots so I just make them into short cords, I always have a use for cords, but a really heavy cords like my 6/4 cord for 50 amps 120/240 has a hollow braid climbing type rope slid over it so it takes the abuse and is easy to replace and way cheaper then copper, plus they come in bright colors so you know which cord is yours on the job site and people "borrow" them less..

Also the visual inspection is only the first part of the testing, they do power them up and they test them at twice there rated current and voltage so see if they can induce a failure, but I can see the visual taking care of like 9 outta 10 cords so they don't have to test them further, and this is why it's now code to have Arc fault breakers powering all the plugs in a bedroom over here now, people don't care and just get the cheapest cord and use it in the room where they go to sleep, and power up a 14,000 BTU AC...
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Jul 17, 2017 at 09:17 PM Author: Ash
When my cat was little she would bite and chew cables, so i slipped pieces of hose (the type used for drain of air conditioners) over most 230V cables she could reach

Testing at twice the rated current - That would make many legit cables fail too. Unless the experiment is limited in time so that only the bad connections heat enough to melt

Arc fault breakers are not something i'd want in my panel. Complicated electronic devices prone to failure... All the real safety is provided by breakers, RCDs (GFCIs) - which are simple electromechanical devices, and using good quality stuff

No AFCI is going to save you when an extension cable got resistive heating bad connection without arcing. Many older AFCIs dont catch arcing in series with the load but only isolation breakdown, which is sorta pointless in a cable with bare Earth conductor - because a GFCI would allready catch that and much more reliably than AFCI
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Jul 17, 2017 at 10:49 PM Author: Lodge
The current test is low voltage so if it's rated to 10 amps, they just push 20 amps though it at like 10 % of the rated voltage, and the voltage test to my understanding is just a few mA to test the insulation.

my cat only did that once to a computer cord and learned a hard lesson, you don't know how loud a cat can meow until it a gets a 120 volt line in the mouth and now it only has 8 lives left, never again has it touched a cord..

The AFCI's are not that bad for the most part they do there job protecting people from there own incompetence, but if you have wired it correctly and maintain it, you don't really need them, and you use Conduit over there so that also adds protection to the cables, where here in residential it's just in the walls no conduits and its stapled every so often to a stud and often with out screw protectors in the correct locations or they get removed by the drywaller's so people hit them when they go to install a picture damaging the wire in the wall..
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Jul 18, 2017 at 02:14 AM Author: Ash
The current test is done at low voltage is done so they dont need big power supply and big load for the test. The heating of everything is the same for the same current, regardless of the voltage. 20A on 10A cable for limited time might give a sensible result, but for longer than that will burn up most 10A cables including proper ones

The voltage test is usually done at 1500V or so. There is no sense to do it at double the rated voltage because it is too low. As matter of fact, most cables will take 5kV from a HPS ignitor without breakdown (though maybe not for very long)

As your cables have bare Earth conductor, any damage that causes short circuit in the cable will inevitably involve it (it is virtually impossible to damage such cable in a way that shorts Phase to Neutral without touching Earth). Then a GFCI would catch it

The other thing that comes to mind is 2-wire "lamp cords", but that i see as just wrong cable to use in the 1st place. It have only one layer of isolation and is thin, any damage to it would immediately expose Copper. A cable with double isolation would take some damage before the outer isolation tears (because 2 layers of isolation are more elastic than 1), and then there already is visible damage (outer isolation torn) but not yet a short circuit
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Jul 19, 2017 at 03:13 AM Author: Mercurylamps
I have used this same heavy duty cable on the washer and dryer as well. The washer (front loader) has an inbuilt heating element and the dryer had a rather thin cord originally fitted.
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