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Randy writes: “Basically, this is just a high quality, heavy-duty extension cord with a separate plastic reel.  It’s not fancy, but I use it all the time, and I’m very happy that I bought the good one — the 12-gauge, 3-conductor, which I found at Lowe’s.   I paid about $36 for 50′.  I don’t really need more than that.  The cord reel was another $6. The cord reel is nothing special, either, but it keeps the cord compact and orderly.”

This is good stuff.  Sometimes we get tied up putting out interesting new tools and forget about some of the good standbys — like a good quality extension cord.  How many times have you seen things like this at the store and wondered if they live up to their apparent quality?  (I’ve personally considered picking this one up at Lowe’s, so I’m happy to hear about it firsthand from a fellow Toolmonger.)

Another note: These large-gauge wire extension cords are very, very good for your high-amp-draw corded tools — like angle grinders and the like.  You might get away with that 100′ cord — or the tiny one — but in the end you’re putting excessive wear on the tool’s motor.  This cord should handle most any current draw your tool can reasonably pull — and 50′ is about as long as you need to stretch for high-amp-draw tools anyway.

As for the reel, I agree.  Nothing sucks more than having to untangle a cord before the job — when you need the tool bad.  We use cheapie versions of these from Harbor Freight.

The Yellow Jacket 50′ 12/3 Flexible Outdoor Extension Cable [Lowe’s]
Kord Manager 150′ Heavy-Duty Extension Cord Reel [Lowe’s]


7 Responses to Reader Find: The Yellow Jacket Extension Cord/Cord Reel

  1. With lighter-gauge cords it’s even more important, but if you’re pulling any significant amperage through a cord, be sure to unwind it all, or at least feel the reel every once in a while to see if it’s heating up.

    All cords have some amount of resistance, and a certain fraction of the energy you move through them will be wasted as heat in the process. That’s normally not a problem, as they dump it to the atmosphere quite readily. But when you have a few dozen turns of cord on a reel, there’s not as much surface area and things can get warm in a hurry.

    Also, in lieu of reels, there’s a specific way of tying a cord in successive overhand slipknots so that it doesn’t tangle, and it’ll give up more cord if you simply pull on the protruding ends. I don’t know the name for the technique, but I’ve seen it used by audio crew and workmen alike. Essentially, you start by folding the cord in half, then start tying not-quite-knots with the folded end. Anyone know what this is called, or have a link to an explanation of the technique?

  2. bbot says:

    A narrow gauge cord isn’t good for high-amp tools because the cord heats up and will eventually burst into flame. A cheap cord will do nothing to the tool itself. There is no “wear and tear” caused by a cheap cord.

  3. A narrow gauge cord which burns off a lot of energy as heat will result in the tool seeing reduced voltage when it’s running. That means that, to generate the same torque, it has to pull more amps. That heats up the motor windings more, and is harder on the brushes or commutator parts, and definitely does cause wear.

    That’s also the same reason you’re supposed to unplug your appliances during a power failure, so that if the power comes back into a brownout condition, your fridge and freezer compressors don’t burn themselves out trying to start up on reduced voltage.

  4. Michael says:

    I own several of these. Another nice feature is the lighted plugs. Much easier on the jobsite to see whether or not you still have power. I use mine in connection with an older metal reel I found. The reel originally came with 4 outlets. I rewired it with GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) plugs. I prefer reels to tying cords as I feel it’s neater to store on my truck, but it’s just a preference.

  5. Rob says:

    I have a decent system for keeping my extension cords in line. I don’t do anything fancy, I just coil them up. The key is to not let the ends get mixed into the coils. As long as you keep the tails long, the coil won’t tangle. Then I use a small loop of rope to keep the coil together and hang it. The loop is like one of those coil keepers you can buy that have the handle except it’s just a small loop of rope that costs almost nothing.

  6. Emery says:

    I believe the coiling method that Nate was refering to is the “Over Under Method”…As detailed here:

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