You’ve installed a new window air conditioner, but the build in cord doesn’t quite reach. You need an extension!
If this sounds familiar, keep on reading to learn more about the best extension cords for your air conditioner!
In this proHVACinfo guide, you will learn the following:
- What are extension cords for air conditioners? (What makes them different?)
- What are the different types of extension cords for air conditioners? (Learn what matters)
- How do extension cords for air conditioners work?
- What do you look for in the best extension cords for air conditioners? (Crucial safety considerations)
- And much more!
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
May 16, 2021
Powtech 20ft Heavy Duty Appliance CordCheck on Amazon
After spending quite some time pouring through the best air conditioner extension cords on the market, we decided that the Powtech 20ft Heavy Duty Appliance Cord deserved the best overall title.--break--Why?--break--This extension cord for air conditioners that is designed with performance, value, and safety in mind.--break--It has a high high power rating at 1875 watts, meaning it can handle up to 15 amps (or around 9,000 watts!)
Short on time? Check out our quick list of the best extension cords for air conditioners!
Powtech 20ft 14-Gauge Appliance Cord
|View on Amazon|
Thonapa 10-Gauge Extension Cord
|View on Amazon|
Qualihome Heavy Duty Air Conditioner Cord
|View on Amazon|
Clear Power Heavy Duty Extension Cord
|View on Amazon|
Iron Forge Tools 10ft Lighted Extension Cord
|View on Amazon|
What Are Extension Cords For Air Conditioners?
Put simply, an extension cord for an air conditioner is a heavy duty cable designed to handle the high power draw that is demanded from devices like window air conditioning units.
If you happen to look at the pre-installed power cord on your window air conditioner, you’ll undoubtedly notice that it’s significantly thicker than the cord on other devices you may own, for example a cell phone charger, or even a TV.
This is because they use thicker wire than standard cables, capable of handling a higher current safely.
With that in mind, an extension cord for an air conditioner is similar in principle to a standard extension cord.
It plugs into your appliance’s cable and extends its range, but with the critical difference being that it has a larger gauge wire, similar to the pre-installed cable on the air conditioner.
Using a standard extension cord will create a bottle neck effect, causing the extension to overheat and potentially start a fire.
What Are The Different Types Of Extension Cords For Air Conditioners?
When shopping for your air conditioner extension cord, be aware of these key differences.
Voltage, Amperage, and Wattage
As a basic physics refresher, wattage, usually referred to as a number of watts, is the unit in which an appliance is rated for how much electricity it uses to operate.
Amperage is a unit used to measure current.
Electrical current, just like a river, is how the electricity flows, but instead of water, it’s the flow of electrons that we’re measuring.
More amps mean a higher current.
Finally, voltage. Volts are the unit used to measure how much electrical force is being used to cause the electrons to flow.
So, a higher force used means a higher voltage.
As it relates to extension cords for air conditioners, you’ll find that they are rated on the three factors we just looked at.
They will be rated with a maximum safe amperage and wattage, typically by what’s known as the gauge (more on that below)
Be sure to check the information sticker on the back of your air conditioner for information about the power requirements, and never choose an extension cord that can’t handle those requirements.
Sometimes your air conditioner will say the amperage outright.
If not, it will indicate the wattage.
In the US, a good rule of thumb is that every 600 watts equals 5 amps (since the US uses 120-volts).
Extension cords for air conditioners are available in different gauges, differing in diameter depending on the duty load that they need to be able to handle.
The gauge rating is based upon American Wire Gauge, and is expressed as a number.
The larger the cable, the greater its ability to carry power over a longer distance – this is especially important as voltage drops over distance, and running equipment that uses a motor (like an air conditioner) with too little voltage can cause serious, and permanent damage.
Extension cords for air conditioners are usually a minimum of 14 gauge, which is considered medium duty.
The tricky thing with gauges is that lower-gauged extension cords can handle more amps (yes, you read that right!)
Check out our handy rule-of-thumb below:
- 16-gauge cords can handle up to 10 amps for up to 100 feet
- 14-gauge cords can handle 10 – 15 amps for up to 50 feet
- 12-gauge cords can handle 10 – 15 amps from 50 – 100 feet
As a general principle, when running extension cords for higher-powered devices like AC units, you don’t want to use an extension cord any longer than necessary.
So don’t use a 50-foot extension cord when you only need to cover 10-feet.
For that reason, our recommendation below are generally on the shorter-end in terms of cord length (though several have shorter and longer alternatives).
Plug and Connector
Another area of difference you’ll find when looking for air conditioner extension cords is the plug and the connector.
The plug is the side referred to as the male end; this is where the prongs are.
The connector is the female end, where plugs are connected.
Extension cords are available in both grounded and non-grounded varieties. Grounded cables have 3 prongs and 3 slots.
One of the two flat prongs is the live, or hot conductor, and the other is the neutral.
The large round prong is the ground, or earth conductor.
If your air conditioner has 3-prongs on its built in cable, always use a 3-prong extension cord.
Other extension cords will have a 2-prong plug and connector.
You’ll note that on 2-prong cables, the two prongs and the slots on the connector are different widths. This is a safety feature to ensure that the live and neutral conductors always align with the circuit conductors of the socket they’re plugged into.
Remember, you can plug a 2-prong appliance into a 3-prong cord, but never plug a 3 prong appliance into a 2-prong cord!
The jacket type refers to the exterior casing that houses the wires in the extension cord. Standardized letters indicate the cord has certain characteristics. They are:
- S – Flexible cord; general use
- W – Approved for outdoor use
- J – “Junior”, 300-volt insulation (if there is no “J”, by default the cord is rated for 600v)
- P – Parallel wire construction (like those used in air conditioner cords)
- T – Jacket is made from vinyl thermoplastic
- E – Jacket is made from thermoplastic elastomer rubber
- O – Oil-resistant
How Do Extension Cords For Air Conditioners Work?
The philosophy here is quite simple.
Plug your window air conditioner or standalone air conditioner into the extension cord, and plug the other end into a wall outlet.
This gives you extra range in the event that your air conditioner’s build in cable doesn’t reach, and if you buy an extension with multiple outlets, you’ll also gain extra connectors to plug in other devices and appliances.
Extension cords for air conditioners are available in a wide range of sizes, but remember what we said earlier – voltage drops over a longer distance, so if you only need to cover a 10 foot gap, don’t go for the 100 foot cable!
What Do You Look For In The Best Extension Cords For Air Conditioners?
As passive items, it can be tricky to tell the difference between good, and average extension cords.
So, if you’re trying to figure out what helps a cord to stand apart, take a look at these features.
Some of the best extension cords feature connections with lighting.
This handy feature helps to draw attention to the connection, which in turn helps to prevent trips and falls over the cable, and ultimately avoid accidental disconnections.
It also alerts you to the fact that there is power to the device, which, in the event of your air conditioner failing to power up, is a quick indicator that the fault is with the unit, and not the power source.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
This is a device built into some extension cords that will automatically cut the power to the extension cord if a ground fault is detected.
Stopping the power in this way can prevent catastrophic damage to devices like air conditioners.
A locking connector is a handy feature that prevents accidental disconnections.
They come in a couple of forms, sometimes as a box that closes over both the male and female ends, or a connector with a clamping lever.
Having more than one connector will allow you to plug multiple appliances into the same extension cord.
Be careful to observe the maximum ratings of the cable vs the power draw of all of the appliances you plan to plug into it, though, and never exceed those maximum ratings to avoid risk of fire.
Our Reviews Of The Best Extension Cords For Air Conditioners
Powtech 20ft Heavy Duty Appliance Cord (Our Top Pick)Check on Amazon
If you’re looking for a quality cord that’s reliable, well designed, and safe for any room in the home, this is the one for you.--break--Powtech’s 20’ 14 gauge cable is rated to 1875 watts, and 15 amps at 125 volts – this all means that it’s well suited to pretty much any household window air conditioner and most freestanding units, too.--break--It has a 90 degree angled plug, giving close to a flush finish when plugged in, which is great for tucking the cord out of sight behind a piece of furniture.--break--For your peace of mind, it’s UL listed, so you can rest assured that it has undergone appropriate standard testing before being placed for sale.
- Heavy duty vinyl insulation--break--Pleasant grey coloring--break--Abrasion Resistant
- No locking connection--break--No GFCI protection
Thonapa 10-Gauge Extension Cord (High End Pick)Check on Amazon
Our high-end pick is this extension cord by Thonapa.--break--It’s a 10-gauge model, so it’s able to handle more power demands than 14 or 12-gauge cords.--break--It has some serious heavy duty ratings, too, rated for 1875 watts and it has a solid design, as indicated by its SJTW rating.--break--It’s slip-resistant, and the bright color and LED lights help you keep track of the cord and monitor when it’s in use.--break--While this cord is approved for outdoor use (the “W” in the “SJTW” rating), the female end of the cord has 3 power sockets, so the wiring can be exposed to the elements if not all 3 sockets are in use.--break--This likely isn’t an issue since you’re looking for an extension cord for your AC but can be a factor if you might use the cord for other appliances (like heavy duty power tools) in the future.
- 10-gauge cord--break--LED Power indicator light--break--Sturdy build quality
- Heavier (due to higher gauge)--break--Color isn’t too discreet--break--3 sockets can be exposed to elements if not all in use
Qualihome Heavy Duty Air Conditioner Cord (Best Budget Pick)Check on Amazon
While there are no frills when it comes to this extension cord, if you’re looking to save money and you’re happy to sacrifice features, this cable from Qualihome is a great choice.--break--This extension cord is 14 gauge, and is rated for 15 amps, 125 volts, and 1875 watts, plus it’s ETL listed – making it suitable for pretty much any normal duty window air conditioner.--break--For an additional bonus feature, the connector features grip grooves for a strong grip when connecting and disconnecting.
- Great value--break--Strong construction
- Color received isn’t guaranteed--break--Not UL listed
Clear Power Heavy Duty Extension CordCheck on Amazon
This 14 gauge cord from Clear Power offers some excellent features at a fair price.--break--One of the standout features is of course the locking connection.--break--The lock is simple to operate with a simple twist of the lever, and prevents unwanted disconnects.--break--You’ll also find an indicator light in the connector, too, letting you know that the cable is powered.--break--It features extreme water, weather and even temperature resistance, plus, the cord is even flame retardant.--break--The prongs are nickel coated brass, which aids in corrosion resistance, and also helps to prevent arcing.
- Agency tested in the USA--break---40°F up to +140°F temperature resistance--break--Water resistant
- Lock can sometimes seize--break--Only 1 connector
SJTW 25ft Lighted Extension CordCheck on Amazon
This is an ultra-premium extension cord for air conditioners.--break--It’s designed in the USA, and made by Iron Forge Cable, a veteran owned company.--break--It is designated SJTW, which indicates that it’s a hard service cord with thermoplastic insulation, and is weather resistant.--break--It has a lighted 3 way connection, and reinforced prongs for incredible resistance to breaking and bending.--break--The cord itself is 10 gauge, making it an ideal choice for anybody running a heavy duty air conditioner through it.--break--Not only is it well designed and thoughtfully made, but it also features a lifetime replacement warranty.
- Lifetime Warranty--break--Extremely well insulated
- Relatively expensive--break--Power indicator can be too bright
Final Thoughts On The Best Extension Cords For Air Conditioners
We’re glad that you’ve joined us for this proHVACinfo guide to extension cords for air conditioners.
Buying any old cable to extend the reach of your air conditioner can pose serious fire risks.
Taking the time to learn the power requirements of your air conditioner and research an appropriate extension cable is critical for safety.
Also, don’t take the power requirements too literally.
If your device draws 15 amps, don’t rely on a 15 amp extension cord, with continuous use it will still overheat and cause a fire risk.
Make sure you leave some headroom when it comes to power.
Our final words of wisdom – for safety reasons, you should only ever use extension cords as a temporary fix.
If you need a long term solution, have an electrician wire in a wall outlet within the reach of your air conditioner’s built in cord.