Can You Use an Extension Cord with an Electric Charger?


When a cord doesn’t reach an outlet, we’re used to using an extension cord. But what about when the thing you’re charging is your electric car? Can you use an extension cord with an electric car charger?

It is not recommended to use an extension cord to charge an electric car. Most car manufacturers warn against it because electric cars require a high current, and most extension cords aren’t built to manage the load without overheating or causing a fire. 

A regular extension cord may not be rated for charging a vehicle. But we still have an option for you to choose from. Keep reading to find out the potential risks of using an extension cord to charge your vehicle and what you can use instead.

Why Not Use an Extension Cord to Charge an Electric Car

Some people say that they have used heavy-duty extension cords to charge their electric vehicles, and some even say they regularly use them to charge their vehicles. Just because people use them doesn’t mean that you should follow their lead. You are running potentially serious risks if you do.

Using inadequately rated electrical equipment can be a serious fire hazard. It’s always worth the peace of mind you get when you buy the proper equipment for a job. You get that along with knowing you won’t have any otherwise preventable mishaps. Here are few reasons using a regular extension cord is risky:

  • Overheating and melting the cable. This will happen if you use a wire that isn’t the right size for the load. In this case, you want 10-gauge wire or 30-amp rated or higher.
  • Fire hazard! What comes after a seriously overheating cord? The fire, of course! Using improperly rated cables is a recipe for a fire hazard.
  • Tripping breakers. You want to be aware of where you are going to plug the cord because you may end up tripping a breaker. If you don’t hear or see the breaker, get tripped, you could end up waking up to an uncharged car.

As you can see, you run some potentially serious risks if you choose to use a regular extension cord. You don’t have to take those risks, though, if you put money into the right equipment. With the right equipment, you can know it will work properly and that you’re not going to have an issue that could otherwise have been avoided.

Are There Extension Cords Made for Charging Electric Vehicles?

Yes, there are.  If you are determined to use an extension cord, you can online and find a J1772 extension cord or adapter. A J1772 extension cord is meant for charging electric vehicles.

How Is a J1772 Any Safer Than a Regular Extension Cord?

It holds a higher amp rating than a regular extension cord, and the wires are heavier duty, so you don’t have to worry about overheating, melting cables, and potentially causing a fire. These cords are approved to charge your vehicle. J1772 are the type of connectors that the cord is using. The cord is just made to handle a lot more power.

Here are a few for you to check out:

These are not your dollar-store extension cords. One of these will definitely run you more money than a regular extension cord, but you’re paying for much more. You’re paying for peace of mind and preventative measures.

If You Insist on Using an Extension Cord to Charge a Car

You’ve been warned about the risks of using a regular, heavy-duty extension cord to charge your electric vehicle but if you still choose to, then here are a few precautions you must take to try to mitigate any of those risks.

  • Check and double-check the rating of the cord. You want to make sure that your cord is rated high enough for this application. It’s good to have a 10-gauge wire or one rated for 30 amps. If you use too small of a cable, it is likely to overheat and cause a fire.
  • Check your breakers. Make sure that you won’t trip a breaker where you plan to plug in. This is for quite obvious reasons. You may catch this on certain breakers but not notice it happen on another breaker. You should check your breakers periodically.
  • Use the shortest cord. This has to do with voltage drop; the farther the volts have to travel, the more power they lose over that distance.
  • Check for overheating frequently. It’s important to check and make sure that your cable or your connectors are not overheating. You don’t want your cables to melt and then have a fire hazard on your hands.

We aren’t recommending that you do this. In fact, we advise against it. This information is provided simply to warn you of what to be aware of, should you choose to do this at your own risk. House fires are deadly, and electric car fires are no simple matter. 

It would be worth the money to be able to sleep soundly, knowing that your extension cord isn’t going to melt and start a fire while you’re sleeping. Not only that, but you know that you’ll be charging again and again, so why not have the right tools for the job?

How Can I Use an Extension Cord to Charge My Vehicle?

We’re only going to recommend the use of a J1772 extension cord. And we’d highly recommend checking with your vehicle manufacturer before you charge with it. If you have those two things, you only need a couple of things before you can get started:

  • J1772 extension cord
  • Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) system that comes with your vehicle.
  • An outlet to plug into.

Once you have all this, you’re ready to start charging.

  • Make sure you won’t trip a breaker where you plan to plug in.
  • Plug in J1772 extension to the wall.
  • Plug EVSE into the J1772 extension.
  • Plug the EVSE into your vehicle.

With this cord, although you may have to worry less about all the risks you run when you use a regular extension cord, you should still make sure that you’re not going to overload a circuit and trip a breaker where you plug in.

Safer Options When an Electric Car Doesn’t Reach the Charger

Sometimes though, we can find ourselves in some unfortunate situations, and of course, desperate times call for desperate measures. If you need to use a J1772, we’ve given directions for that. Here are some other options:

  • Rewire. Hire an electrician to move or replace your charging station where you need it.
  • Charge elsewhere. If you are running a risk every time you charge at home, start charging at public spots. Sites like PlugShare.com can help you find the most convenient option.
  • Invest in a portable. If the extension cord situation is only happening in certain places, consider something like the Blink IQ 200-M.

While it is possible to use an extension cord, your manufacturer won’t recommend it to you, and neither can we. You could probably use a J1772 as something to get by for a while, but there are better choices for charging that would be worth looking into.

In Conclusion

Some may report success with using a heavy-duty electrical cord to charge their electric car, but it is far too great of a safety risk to do so. The better choice is to invest in a solution that works in a safer, better way. There is a range of sustainable, fire-safe options that are a better idea for the investment you have in your electric car and everything else in your life that you’d like to protect from fire.

Sources:

Greencarreports.com

Greentransportation.info

Myev.com

Car and driver

US Fire Administration

SAE International

Recent Posts