Electric mowers don’t always have enough cord length, so you’ll need an extension cord. Here’s what you need to remember when shopping for an extension cord.
13 Amp mowers need (at a minimum) a 12-gauge extension cord, preferably 75 to 100 feet (23-30.5 m). Choose a weather-resistant cord labeled for outdoor use. If you’re a contractor, opt for heavy-duty extension cords that can handle the abrasion and are flexible enough to handle the wear and tear.
This article will help you understand the differences between heavy-duty extension cord types and how to choose the best type for your lawn mower.
Extension Cord Variations
Buying an extension cord for heavy-duty uses like running an electric lawn mower isn’t as simple as grabbing the first thing you see. Consider the length, gauge, and type of extension cord you will need. Choosing the wrong cord means you’ll have more than your fair share of troubles when servicing your electric lawn mower.
Generally, it’s best to match the extension cord to the specific intended use. In today’s market, there are a few types of extension cords available:
|Heavy Duty. Use for tools/appliances up to 15 Amps.
|Heavy Duty. Use for tools/appliances up to 15 Amps
|Medium Duty. Use with up to 15 Amps for cords shorter than 50 feet (15.2 m) and up to 13 Amps for longer cords.
|Light Duty. Use with up to 13 Amps for cords shorter than 50 feet (15.2 m) and up to 10 Amps for longer cords.
Each of these types also comes in different lengths, which matters when buying electrical cords. Cords come in varying lengths, between 50 to 100 feet (15.2 to 30.5 m).
Of course, I’m not considering lightweight extension cords that are meant for indoor use—the type you use to power a phone or even a laptop. This article is solely focused on heavy-duty extension cords.
When choosing the right extension cord, you should consider the wire thickness (gauge), cord length, and amperage ratings. These three variables should determine which is the right extension cord for your lawn mower.
One example is the Honderson 15-Ft Outdoor Extension Cord (link to Amazon). It is suitable for 13 Amp mowers. It can withstand heavy use outdoors and is highly visible to avoid any mishaps.
What Is Gauge?
Wire gauge is a term used to describe a wire’s thickness (diameter). It is important because it is proportionally related to electrical resistance (source). Thereby, it determines how much electrical current a wire can safely carry without complications.
Note that the higher the gauge, the lower the diameter of the wire. In other words, a high-gauge cord is thinner, whereas a low-gauge cord is thicker and more suitable for heavy-duty uses, like a 13 Amp mower. In other words, a 14-gauge wire is actually thinner than a 10-gauge.
Understanding Electrical Power in an Extension Cord and How it Relates to Appliances
Each extension cord sold in the US and other developed countries would have three numbers on the packaging (and the cord itself). They are:
- Amperage: Measuring the current or flow of electricity through the conductor (i.e., copper in the extension cord’s wire). Make sure to check the amperage of your lawn mower or other tools and match it to the appropriate extension cord, according to the table above.
- Voltage: A measure of the pressure or force pushing electrons through the conductor. More powerful tools, such as 13 amp mowers, will typically require a higher voltage to push more electricity to power them.
- Wattage: Formulated as the amperage multiplied by voltage, an electrical device’s wattage is a measure of how much electrical current it will consume per unit of time.
When shopping for an extension cord, you should take into account the amperage and voltage of electrical appliances or equipment you intend to use with it.
Other Ways of Classifying Extension Cords
Extension cords are also classified according to the insulating material that is used to surround the internal copper wire. There are three main types:
- Outdoor: Heavy-duty cords intended for outdoor use are usually equipped with abrasion-resistant material (source), allowing them to withstand the added wear and tear that comes with outdoor use. You should use outdoor extension cords with a lawn mower.
- Indoor: Lightweight, shorter extension cords that can only power small household appliances. They aren’t suitable for use with a lawn mower.
- Contractor grade: Because contractors use their extension cords more often and in worksites, they are typically made to withstand extreme temperature changes, abrasion, and much more.
What Happens If You Use the Wrong Extension Cord with a Lawn Mower
You may be wondering what the point of all this is—what would happen should you get the wrong type of extension cord for your 13 Amp lawn mower? Let’s take a look at each different scenario.
- The gauge is too low. Extension cords with lower gauges are thicker and safe to use with high-power mowers and other devices.
- The gauge is too high. A higher gauge means a lower diameter, which means the cord won’t be able to handle too much electricity. There is a very high chance that it heats up, causing an electrical fire. In many countries, selling very high-gauge extension cords is illegal for this reason.
- The cord isn’t rated for outdoor use. Without added protection from the elements and potential wear and tear that occurs with outdoor use, you can expect the cord to be damaged over time. Again, this is potentially dangerous—it can cause electrocution, electrical fires, and malfunction of your lawn mower.
- The cord isn’t long enough. Using a lawn mower with too short of an extension cord makes it difficult to move around as needed, defeating its main purpose.
While extension cords are a necessity when using electrical lawn mowers, getting the right gauge and length is important for your safety. Use a 12-gauge extension cord for 13 Amp mowers, or refer to the table above for other variations.