OK. Buying the generator was the easy part.
Figuring out which power cords to attach to it is not so easy, at least not for me. I am not a rocket scientist, and I am legally blonde — whatever that means.
I’m betting, though, that there are some savvy readers here who can explain it all to me.
First, I bought a Westinghouse iGen2500 inverter generator. All I really want it for is to keep a fridge or freezer running during power outages, and maybe charge some electronics. It’s small, lightweight — and I figured it is a good introduction to the wide world of generators.
So, it has two 20 amp outlets on it, as well as a couple of USB ports.
I have been researching the subject, and the manual that came with the generator does have a list showing extension cord sizing. Wire guage is very important, apparently. So, for a 50-foot power cord, the wire guage should be no more than 12 amps, and preferably 10.
I found one online with — Conntek 20520-050 NEMA 5-20 Outdoor Extension Cord 20 Amps 125 Volts, 50 Feet — with a cable rating of SJTW 12/3, which my research says means it is 12 guage with three wires.
I’ve learned that a a fridge, for example, uses about 6 amps and has a running wattage of about 700, with a startup of 2200 watts.
See. I’m halfway there, right?
Thing is, I’m guessing I can hook it up to my fridge or a small freezer. But when I read reviews of the power cord, there are contractors saying it meets all their needs. What am I missing here? They seem to be using it for greater power needs?
My search for a 10-guage 20-amp power cord turned up one 50-footer at a cost of about $130, half the price of the 12-guage one I bought today. Should I buy that one, too?
Sigh . . .
Any suggestions or insights.
The guage is important but more important is the total amps your appliances are using. If your only hooking up a few appliances even a 1500w cord will work. Most generators have fuses which which cut out your power if you pull too much power. The conntek 20amp cord (2000w) should work. FYI your fridge won’t pull 2200w unless it is using 220v.
Good point about the fridge. It’s just a normal plug on it.
Thanks for your tips. I was never very good with this kind of thing. Once the new power cord arrives, I’ll put the oil in the generator, buy some gas and give it its 5 hours of break-in time.
FYI… most ppl grid tied plug their geni directly into a 110v plug on a 15amp breaker. This allows you to leave everything plugged in your house. However, if you do this make sure you disconnect the main power from the grid via the main 100amp or 200p breaker BEFORE you power up the geni otherwise you will be powering the local grid lol.
Extension cords aren’t sold by “amps”- they are sold by gauge. The smaller the gauge, the larger the wire size. If they are advertising “amps” then I would do more research. Wire gauge is the most important figure.
Up to 20 Amps needs a 10 gauge extension cord.
15 Amps or less can use a 12 gauge extension cord.
Do not put multiple extension cords in series. The connections introduce a small amount of resistance which adds up to losses. And heating.
Trust me, my degree is in Electrical Engineering.
Since it’s a gas generator, you must put it outside and run an extension cord. For 25 to 50 ft. I wouldn’t use anything less than a 10 gauge extension.
DO NOT try to power the “whole house” through an adapter- it is dangerous, and probably illegal.
Thanks, Steve. Fear not. I wouldn’t try to power the whole house — way beyond my abilities.
So, when you say “up to 20 Amps needs a 10 guage extension cord,” I’m guessing you mean the device drawing the power from the extension cord would be using up to 20 amps, yes?
The manual says for total amperage up to 10A, an extension cord up to 50 feet long should have a minimum guage of 12. Up to 15A and 20A, a minimum guage of 10.
So, to be clear, the “Total Amerperage” they are referring to means the amount of power the devices hooked up to the generator are drawing, yes?
If that is the case, the 12-guage cord would be good for lamps, radios and other devices that don’t draw a lot of electricity. But I am not sure about the fridge, which is why I bought the generator in the first place (am fed up with losing food during power outages). The fridge runs at about 700 watts, but the starting watts would be about 2,200. The generator can handle that — it’s 2500/2200 — but it is the power cord needed to run the fridge that has been confusing me.
I’ll buy a 10-guage cord, but there are not a lot of them out there and they are expensive — about $130 Canadian plus tax for a 50-footer is the lowest price I have seen.
Another question: Can I connect a surge protector power strip to these extension cords?
“So, to be clear, the “Total Amerperage” they are referring to means the amount of power the devices hooked up to the generator are drawing, yes?”
Yes. You understand correctly.
“Another question: Can I connect a surge protector power strip to these extension cords?”
You can, but they aren’t necessary. If you are talking about using the surge protector simply as an outlet strip for USB chargers and a light or two, then fine. Absolutely not for the fridge. A surge protector is normally just needed when your power lines might be struck by lightning.
Don’t worry about the starting watts of the fridge. It is short term and you will see lights dim for a second, but if the total draw from the generator doesn’t exceed its rating no harm will come.
Ethanol-based fuel will gum up the generator carburetor when not using it for a few months. You can run unleaded auto fuel for most of the time, but the last run should be with TruFuel (https://trufuel50.com/) to wash out everything the fuel goes through.
Thanks, Steve! Lots of good advice there.