If freezing conditions frequently plague your home, I want you to install a block heater to raise the temperature before you drive the car. Additionally, a section in ‘Journal of Fuels and Lubricants’ highlighted the critical role block heaters play in reducing emissions.
But a block heater’s power cord is not long enough to reach the outlet in some people’s homes. The extension cord is the only rational answer.
Can I Use Extension Cord For Block Heater?
You can use an extension cord for the block heater. It will bridge the gap between the heater’s power cord and the closest wall outlet
Is It Safe To Use Extension Cord With Block Heater?
Extension cords are dangerous. They start fires all the time because people overload them. The same thing can happen with a block heater if you select a weak extension cord. Try to keep the following in mind:
1). Extension Cord Gauge Matches The Heater’s Electrical Draw
Pay attention to the extension cord’s gauge. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, extension cords cause 3,300 yearly, claiming roughly fifty lives. Some of those fires start because consumers use extension cords with small gauges to run strong appliances.
The average 110V block heater uses as many as 1500 watts. You can run a block heater on an extension cord if the extension cord’s gauge matches the heater’s electrical draw. A smaller extension cord with thinner wires is a fire hazard.
2). Some People Blame Fires On Extension Cords When The Fault Lies With The Block Heater.
According to Battlefords Now, the salt your vehicle encounters on the road can corrode the block heater. A corroded block heater attracts arcing. Arcing will ignite whatever flammable material it encounters.
3). A Cracked Power Cord Can Start Fires
If the block heater is in perfect shape, look at the power cord. A cracked power cord can start fires by causing arcing and igniting the flammable material in the vicinity. Power cords are just as susceptible to wear and tear as extension cords.
You can protect both the power cord and the extension cord by keeping them away from areas with heavy traffic. If you typically leave the car outside, you risk driving over the lines and breaking them. Keep this threat in mind as you run the extension cord to the vehicle.
You should also pay attention to the way you physically handle power cords and extension cords. Some consumers think that extension cords only fail when you drop them from a great height or accidentally strike them with blunt objects.
However, you can also cause harm by tugging at the cord while removing the plug from the outlet. You should replace any cable that shows signs of wear and tear. Electrical tape can get you through an emergency. However, you can’t trust it to protect you from a cracked cord in the long run.
4). You Can Leave The Heater On All Night If You Want.
But this practice is discouraged. First of all, it is a waste of electricity. Secondly, if things go wrong and a fire starts, you’re not in a position to take action.
Two hours are more than sufficient to raise the engine’ temperature to optimal levels. Install a timer. It will automatically deactivate the heater after a few hours, reducing the risks associated with the device.
5). Remove The Extension Cord Once It Finishes Its Work
An extension cord’s safety concerns are not limited to the fires it can start. These devices are tripping hazards. Freezing conditions increase the chances of a vehicle owner tripping over an exposed extension cord.
Therefore, you must remove the extension cord once it finishes its work. Keep it out of the way. If you expect the extension cord to remain in place for long periods, select a product with bright colors that people can see even when visibility deteriorates.
I want a qualified mechanic to inspect your heater cord routinely. This allows them to identify and fix breaks and cracks before they become a problem. You can also ask them to inspect the extension cord.
What Gauge Extension Cord For Block Heater?
16AWG is a decent starting point. This is the smallest gauge you should use. But you should aim for 14AWG to be on the safe side. The thickest cables are the least likely to overheat. You don’t have to guess. Use these steps to make a proper selection:
- Find the wattage of the engine block heater. The wattage tells you the heater’s energy consumption.
- Divide the wattage by your home’s voltage to get the amps.
- Compare the amps to a wire size/ampacity table. This will give you the correct gauge.
The gauge you identify using these steps is only correct if you intend to dedicate the extension cord to the heater. But if you want multiple devices to share the extension cord, the gauge should reflect the total load.
This means adding the watts of all the devices, dividing the total by the voltage, and using the total amps to find a corresponding gauge in a wire size/ampacity table. You don’t need a dedicated extension cord for the heater. However, a dedicated extension cord is the safest option.
Read How Many Amps Does A Block Heater Draw? (Cummins, Ford)
How Long Can A Block Heater Extension Cord Be?
The extension cord can be as long as you want. Yes, increasing the length raises resistance and voltage drop. However, you can compensate for the length by elevating the gauge. The longer the cable, the thicker the gauge.
Experts will ask you to limit your selection to 25 feet. But that advice shouldn’t stop you from getting a longer cable if you need it, so long as you remember to increase the gauge as well.
Best Block Heater Extension Cord
- DEWENWILS Extension Cord
This is a 6ft, 125V 15A extension cord. With a gauge of 14/3, the item can easily withstand a block heater’s electrical demands. Expect a PVC jacket that repels moisture, sunlight, and abrasion, reinforced blades, and a full-molding design.
- Clear Power Heavy Duty Engine Block Heater
This is a 15ft 125V 13A extension cord with a flashing indicator light, nickel-coated brass blades, and a grounded plug. The nickel-coated brass prevents arcing. Additionally, you can trust the jacket to resist water, abrasion, and fire.
It will take a lot of abuse before succumbing to wear and tear. The DEWENWILS extension cord is safer because it is only 6ft. Shorter cables have less resistance. But 15ft is not long enough to present a challenge.
- Volt Safe Magnetic Plug Extension Cord
This is a 120V 7A cord made with block heaters in mind, which is why it has a magnetic connection that allows you to connect and disconnect the plug with one hand. The 10ft cord can survive at -50 degrees C, which is perfect for people in freezing regions. Keep an eye out for the flexible flap that protects the contacts.
- Clear Power 25ft Extreme Weather Block Heater Extension Cord
This is a 125V 13A 25ft extension cord with nickel-coated brass blades, a weather-resistant jacket capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, and 3-outlet connectors.
- UltraPro 25ft Extension Cord
This is a versatile 25ft 125V 13A extension cord that works both indoors and outdoors. It comes with a one-piece molded plug with durable construction. It can withstand both hot and cold conditions. You can take advantage of the 90-day warranty to return the product if it fails to meet your expectations. You can get the extension cord in 15 feet if you want to limit the length.