Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (2023)

Safety is paramount when using a generator cord when camping. A few precautions can prevent a disaster. A generator-specific extension cord is essential to avoid potential electrical shock and fire hazards. You can't just use a standard extension cord you have around the house, the power has to be carried. You will run your generator outdoors, but you will need to extend it inside your trailer or inside your tent.

Campers need to use an extension cord if they want to cook, heat, or even plug in or charge appliances. We not only take a look at how to choose an extension cord for your campsite, but also how to use it safely. Read on for best practices and precautions to take if you want to ensure the safe use of an extension cord on your travels.

look at the gauge

Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (1)

Gauge refers to the thickness of the wire. A thick gauge can handle much more energy than a thin one. It is important to remember that it is measured backwards. The lower the number, the thicker the wire.

You can find #14 or even #16 generator extension cords. These are too flimsy for some heavy-duty applications. Instead, choose a thicker #10 or #12 gauge. A thicker gauge can carry more power. If you plug in a cable that's too thin, you won't be able to get very far before it starts to overheat.

The more laid cable causes the so-called "voltage drop". This is a reduction in power going to the devices. Running a thin cable over a long distance causes more losses. Thick cables can handle it better.

Below is an example of 25 foot cables, the current they draw, and how much the voltage drops as a result.









1,94 %




10 A



Don't be fooled by how thick it looks.

This sounds like a very basic bug, but it does happen. It's easy to look at a rope and think it's nice and thick. Inside the box, it's hard to tell how much wire is there and how much insulation. That's why the measurement system exists. It's important to actually do your research instead of assuming a yarn is up to scratch because it looks thick.

Get a cable rated for outdoor use

Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (2)

You don't want to get too close to your generator. Even if it's on a trailer, the generator extension cord should be run outside. This keeps you away from the formation of harmful gases. Generators emit carbon monoxide.

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As a camper, you are used to the outdoors. Your gadgets can also be outside. You may be using your cord for an outdoor heater or stove.

When choosing an extension cord, make sure it is suitable for outdoor use. It usually has a bright orange vinyl or plastic cover. This protects the contents and the cable that runs inside from exposure to the elements. You'll know that electricity and water don't mix, so extra protection is essential.

DO NOT use ordinary extension cords

The extension cord you use to bring the vacuum into the open space is probably not designed for outdoor use. Even if the pins match, you can't just grab it and plug it in. Most home extensions lack the durability and protection you need outdoors. It might be tempting if you already have one of these cables. External cables are more expensive, but it's worth it. Using the correct cable is the only way to ensure your safety.

DO NOT connect an extension cord to an extension cord

Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (3)

You may be tempted to add more and more extensions. You may be trying to increase the power duration or trying to connect more devices. Do not do it.

If your generator has two outlets, you can use extension cords on both. You cannot add more extensions. This not only increases the voltage drop, but can also increase the load to dangerous levels. This means that the conductors will heat up to dangerous levels and present a fire hazard.

This notice applies to both internal and external extensions. You just can't keep stressing the generator as this will cause the wire to get hot and stressed. It can damage appliances and appliances and can even end up with a fire.

Check Amplifier Performance

Another important reading on the extension cord is the power of the amplifier. A 50A generator cord can handle more power than a 20A generator cord.

It may seem like another confusing area to deal with. Actually, it is quite simple. Your generator plugs are rated in watts. All you have to do is adjust the power cord of the generator to match the amperage of the outlet. A 30A plug requires a 30A cord.

One 30 amp locking plug can be converted to four 20 amp plugs just like you would have at home. This means that you can use any device or device that you would normally use at home.

(Video) Best Extension cords for MAXIMUM power output with your Generator / Home and RV use.

Fortunately, the connections are designed to match. The shapes are deliberately designed to only connect to sockets with which they are compatible. This helps prevent overloading.

DO NOT place cord near fire hazards

Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (4)

If you take all the necessary precautions and purchase a suitable extension cord, the risk of fire is very small. However, it is a good idea to remain cautious. There is a possibility that a device is not working properly or that it is using more power than you thought. There is also the possibility of the wire breaking, which could cause dangerous heating.

It's not a high risk, but it still makes sense to avoid fire hazards. Do not place the cable near flammable objects or dry sticks.

Perform a visual inspection before use

Nicks or breaks in the cable can present a hazard. Frayed wires are more likely to overheat and may even spark. This can cause a fire. You can even be electrocuted if you step on or touch a frayed or broken cord.

Every time you plug in the extension cord, you should check it. Look along the length of the cable, paying particular attention to the connectors. If you see that the cable is exposed or the casing is broken, don't take any chances.

You can be sure that your cable is fine, especially if it has been stored safely. You can never be sure. A rat may have gotten inside your trailer and chewed on something, making your extension a potential hazard.

DO NOT coil or coil the cord

Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (5)

Some people think they are doing the right thing by covering the cord. For example, you can roll up the excess length and tuck it under a tarp. This inadvertently creates a fire hazard. Cables inevitably generate heat, and if you keep them in a confined space, heat can build up. It can reach dangerous levels.

Even if this does not cause a fire, the cable is likely to be damaged. Constant overheating is definitely bad for the cable. Like purging the generator, you need to allow room for the wire to "breathe" and stay cool.

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Check rated voltage

Many power generator extension cords run on multiple voltages. 240V ratings are typical for household outlets. Most things you can plug into a household outlet can also be used on a generator that uses a 240V outlet.

The 110-120v outlets are for heavy equipment and power tools.

Generator cables are also usually easy to handle. Generators can be used simply to power your outdoor lighting, or they can be used for power tools. The solution is to let people choose. A 125/250 volt cord will work with both.

Use your cable to keep your distance from the generator

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This is one of the main reasons to use an extension cord. It should not be near a generator. Emits fumes and gases that may be harmful. They are also loud. Modern inverter generators are much quieter than historical models, but you still don't want to put up with the noise all day.

With an extension cord, you can keep noise and exhaust fumes at bay while enjoying the power benefits.

DO NOT run your generator continuously

Generators cannot handle continuous operation. Not the wires. If you leave them running for too long, they are likely to get damaged.

Some generators have a built-in switch to turn off the machine when it is in danger. For example, if you run out of fuel.

Running generators for too long risks damaging both the machine and the cable connected to it. Give them time to cool down. There is no rule on how long you can run each generator. Consider its age and how much gas is stored in it. Most models can drive 8 to 24 hours before needing fuel and resting.


Pros and Cons of Generator Extension Cord When Camping (7)

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Being suitable for outdoors and being suitable for extreme climates are different things. If you know you will be using the model in extreme heat or cold, try to consider a suitable extension cord for the generator.

Some major models of generator cables now have a thermoplastic sheath. This helps protect the thread from extreme heat or extreme cold. Both can be dangerous or harmful, but the heat can melt components and also increase the risk of fire. Remember that the generator is already producing heat.

What are the warning signs of overloaded generators (and generator cables?)

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Many of the do's and don'ts on this list have to do with avoiding overloading or overheating. There are many risks associated with using your generator cord incorrectly, but these are the most dangerous.

How to know if a generator is overloaded? Here are some of the signs:

  • Bad performance. If performance drops noticeably and connected equipment and tools fail, it's a sign your generator may be overloaded.
  • black soot. This usually comes from an old generator. However, the harder working overloaded generators can produce dark soot.
  • Warm. Some heat is unavoidable, but if you notice the wires or generator getting too hot, it could be because you've overloaded it.
  • The breakers are still working. This is to disable the generator and avoid danger. If something is wrong, the circuit breakers shut down the machine to prevent damage.

The best option is always to avoid the risk of overloading. Don't keep adding extensions and don't add more devices and apps than the builder can handle. If you need to add an appliance such as a stove, turn off the air conditioner for a while.

It is also an option to add more power. Some generators can run in parallel, which means you can connect them and use the power of both.


A few tips on choosing and using your generator can go a long way in keeping it safe. When you can find a generator extension cord that can handle multiple voltages and has a thermoplastic jacket that can withstand all temperatures, you'll be ready for whatever the elements throw at you. The Champion model: 48033 is an example of this.General purpose outdoor cable.

It's not worth taking risks when it comes to your safety. Find a cable you can trust and enjoy camping without worries or power outages.


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Author: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

Last Updated: 05/04/2023

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