Smokers and extension cords

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jted, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. You got your new smoker and now you want to do the first break in. This is when you realize the cord is to short.The factory gives you 6 or even 10 feet of cord .You are standing on the porch with the cord end in one hand and you are looking at the receptacle 20 feet away.

    You look in the instructions to see if you can use a extension cord. And they don't recommend it.

    They are idiots if they think you are not going to try you smoker out.

    You can use a extension cord if you keep it short and the right size.

    If you are using power tools the general rule is no loss of more than 3% or in household current you should have 117.5 volts.

    That is not the case in heating elements. You need at least119 volts.

                                                   For this part I used a voltage calculator on line, I am lazy

    I looked up 3 normally used sizes of elements  800 watt 1000, and 1200

    When looking at the calculator they want to know you amperage use.

    Here is a easy ohms law calculation you can do. Watts divided by house current = amperage.

    800/120=6.66 now that is not exact but very close since we did not calculate for the factory cord length.

    If you have  one of these elements and you follow this you will be OK.

    Don't use a cord longer than you need. Don't use that long extension cord that stretches to your shrub's.

    Here is some info you can use.

    800 watt 15 foot AWG16 cords lose 0.80 volts that is about  all you want to lose and be efficient.

    1000 watt element a 16AWG cord at 20 feet draws 1.34 volts just spring 15.00 dollars at home depot and get a 14AWG cord  At 15 feet the loss is .63 of a volt. That is what you need.

    1200 watt for all you MES 40 users here is the scoop.

    If you need only a short cord(15') you can get away with a 14AWG cord it will only lose 0.76 of a volt. if you need  a 25' cord you need a 12AWG cord. At 25 ' you only lose .79 of a volt but if you can get by with  a 15' cord you do well at less than 1/2 of a volt loss.

    There are just to many comboniations to list so if you need more info here is the link to the calculator.

    Be smart don't let your cord of smoker get wet. Your life is in your hands      Jted
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Thanks @jted  this is really good info. 
  3. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I've used my 100 ft 12/3 cable a couple of times.  No issues.  Doesnt even get warm. 
  4. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Very good write up!

  5. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    This is what you want.  12/3 25 foot cord for $24:

  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Using your 100 ft. cord, you have a 2.65% voltage drop... In addition to the cord's voltage drop, there is the drop from the panel to the outlet... that could significantly increase the drop....

    Voltage drop: 3.18
    Voltage drop percentage: 2.65%
    Voltage at the end: 116.82

    Please note that the result is an estimation based on normal condition. The actual voltage drop can vary depend on the condition of the wire, the conduit being used, the temperature, the connector, the frequency etc. But, in most cases, it will be very close.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
  7. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Dave in this case, what should be happening?  Tripping the power?  Smoker not getting hot enough?  Cause I have had zero issues.  I had an electric snow blower and before I got this cord, I used a crappy Coleman cord.  It would get hot and trip the power.  I ended up getting a 100ft 12/3 and it works great if I need it.  I've moved my smoker to my front porch (until I can find a better solution FFS....), so dont use it any more.
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It was explained to me.... operating on low voltage causes an increase in amperage... amps generate heat... heat is not good for electronics... BUT, I don't even know if that is true.....

    I just ran the number, using jted's calculator, to see what it was...

    Looking at the numbers, and being stupid when it comes to electricity, I would cut down the cord to minimum needed and put a new end on it....
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is also voltage loss at the receptacle... the lugs on the cord, if they are loose in the outlet, can be a problem.... When I encounter that condition, I use the fix below ......

  10. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I guess my voltage loss was not enough to increase heat enough.  Good to know though. 
  11. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    You could be running hot without knowing it. Extension cords are well insulated so you might not be able to feel the outside and know if is hot. There are plenty of documented cases of extension cords catching on fire from drawing too many amps through them. You could also be putting additional strain on the electronics by forcing them to run on a lower amperage. I couldn't tell you exactly what that would do long term but I wouldn't want to cause my smoker to wear out early simply because of the extension cord. 
  12. The above information is all good stuff. On every application there are variables. Length of the run ,condition of the plug end ,length of the extension cord.  Once again I will repeat Dave's advice to make the cord as short as possible. You can get a good cord end at a big box store for under 5.00 dollars. The cord shown is a great short cord. I will be moving my smoker and will need a new cord. I will be getting a 15 foot 14AWG cord I purchased at the depot for 15.00 dollars. My smoker is a MES30 with a 800 watt element. 

    I never stated that you cannot use a long small extension cord but you risk a few different things. The first thing you loose is the effenciety of your element. It just won't heat right. Then you over stress the element and cause damage to the smoker and cord. If you try to have 119 volts by the calculator and cord you have wiggle room for the other unknowns.

    This is info just to try to make you think and try to make you SMART.  No one needs a burnt element ,cord or house.  Jted
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  13. Jted --- thanks for making the effort to put this together. It is definitely something for all of us to consider when using the toys we love so much. Well worth the small investment in a good cord for those who need one.
  14. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    The extension cord I got is about 8 ft. long and flat not round with the three prongs coming out the plug at 90 degrees so the cord runs down the wall.  It was sold as an appliance cord with a 1875 watt rating but I have no idea what the AWG is.  The smoker heats up in 20 minutes and I haven't noticed heat at the MES plug and extension cord after a six hour smoke.  Hopefully it's short enough to not reduce voltage.

  15. Hi Dr, My first thought was that you had a 14-3AWG cord I ran the 1875 watts through the calculator and it showed that if you ran 1875(15 5/8 amps) through it it would deliver 119.37 volts . The picture above shows a 12-3 AWG 1875 cord at 25 feet. If yours were 12AWG @ 8 feet  it would deliver 119.61 volts. If you are interested it may be printed on the wire. In any case you definitely have a good cord rated for over 15 amps with very little voltage loss.      Jim
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  16. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Lower voltage at the smoker plug does not increase "amperage" (current is the better term). Not in resistive loads (which the smoker is). Ohm's law: lower voltage means less current for the same load.

    Heat is associated with voltage drop because the energy associated with that voltage drop dissipates over the length of extension cord, bad receptacles or bad home wiring.

    Heavy Gage ext cords have larger diameter (or more strands), which in turn makes their resistance smaller. Resistance is directly proportional with length and inversely proportional with cross section area (not diameter). So reducing diameter in half increases resistance (power loss) by 4. Or: a 18awg 25ft ext cord is just as good as as a 12awg 100ft cord (heat dissipation concerns aside).

    Resistivity also comes into play. Copper is better than Aluminum: 100ft Al wire has the same resistance as 157ft Copper wire.

    Coiled cords being dangerous because they are practically an inductive load is a (sub)urban myth. An ext cord has both live and return wire running along - there is no magnetic field created.
    You could have a heat dissipation issue on a coiled cord but has nothing to do with inductive loading.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  17. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Great thanks!  It wasn't cheap.  Is that the voltage if I tested it with my volt meter or does it have to be under load?

  18. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Under load. Otherwise you measure what you have at the mains. No current, no voltage drop.
  19. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic


    Swoosh .......... With my not being schooled much when it comes to electrical things, a lot of what you said went over my head there ... lol   [​IMG]
  20. Brickguy,  Jim don't worry about it just use the short cord we talked about and don't look back.

    This whole conversation was to get non electric folks to think about there extension cords. They can be choke points of electric voltage. When you choke the voltage you choke the current (amprage) To keep it simple voltage does not kill, the energy (Current , Amperage) does.Two different things that run together.

    If you remember anything it should be to keep it (the cord) short and fat. Hey that is me. But all joking aside just think about what you are doing and if you think you need help just ask.

    Dr. K that would  be the exit voltage of the cord at the end of the cord unplugged to the smoker but plugged into the wall receptacle. I think that is what you are asking.  Jted
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015

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