A list of Cords, Hoses and Coiling Frequently Asked Questions
I’m not sure of the gauge of my extension cord?
Every power extension cord has its gauge and other information imprinted repeatedly along it’s length. The scale used is the (AWG) American Wire Guide scale. The smaller the number, the thicker the wire within the insulator. There are three common gauges used for common power extension cords: 16, 14 and 12. The AWG number refers to the size of the copper conductor used to transmit the electrical power and does not directly relate to the plastic fillers and insulator that surround the wires. This marking usually appears in a form such as “14/3,” which indicates a three-conductor 14 AWG cord. The Twistfree Roadee comes with “Gauge Check” notches on the packaging to allow you to determine the proper cord collars suitable for the extension cord you’re using.
Q. How much electrical power can I safely transmit with my extension cord?
A. Generally, the thicker the cord, the more power an appliance can safely draw through it. Power flow is measured in amps. This is analogous to gallons per minute in a garden hose. All extension cords used outdoors should be of the 3-wire, grounded type. Most electrical appliances and tools are marked with the amps they draw. 16 gauge cords can safely transmit 13 amps over a distance of 50 feet and 10 amps over 100 feet. 14 gauge cords can safely transmit 15 amps over a distance of 50 feet and 13 amps over 100 feet. 12 gauge cords can safely transmit 15 amps over a distance of 100 feet.
Q. Why won’t my extension cord lie flat even if I remove all the twists?
A. When a cord is repeatedly twisted and stored that way, eventually the conductor wires inside the insulator are displaced and remain twisted even though the outer insulator is not. It is virtually impossible to return the cord to its original condition and the cord has become permanently damaged. By learning the over/under coiling technique and using a Roadee organizer consistently, this situation can be avoided and the cord can last a lifetime. While connectors can wear out over time, the copper wire inside an extension cord does not wear out from the transmission of power. Only misuse or accidental damage can shorten the life of the extension cord wire. The National Electrical Code prohibits the use of spliced or worn out extension cords.
Q. Can I just uncoil the extension cord partially and use it left mostly in a coil?
A. Transmitting power through a partially uncoiled extension cord is a bad idea. Using the garden hose analogy, as water flows through the hose it experiences friction resulting in a water pressure loss at the other end. In extension cords, electrical friction is called resistance resulting in a voltage drop at the far end. This voltage loss is converted into heat. If the cord is left coiled and combined with a large amperage demand, the resistance heat is multiplied and concentrated which can possibly cause melting of the insulator, even fires. It’s always safer to fully extend or at least spread out an extension cord before use. An overloaded extension cord that is fully coiled on a reel could overheat, causing a fire.
Q. How do I coil my garden hose in flat loops?
A. Garden hose is a lot stiffer than extension cords and seems less cooperative when coiling by hand. It’s also a lot thicker and heavier and therefore tougher to manage by hand. The key is space. If you can extend your hose before coiling, twists can be mostly removed making it a lot easier to see whatever twists remain and dealing with them as you coil the hose. Extending it in a straight line away from you causes another problem in that its hard to pull the whole length towards you over the ground. The answer is “flaking.” Flaking is where the hose is laid out in a “back and forth” fashion. For example, a 100 foot hose may run out 20 feet, turn back towards you 20 feet, back out 20 feet, and so on. That way, you never have to pull more than 20 feet of hose. The other key solution is to coil the loops on the ground. Stand over the end of hose, bend over at the waist and pull enough hose to form the first loop. Then continue pulling just enough hose to form each subsequent loop. You should be able to stack the loops neatly on top of each other building a tidy coil without having to lift it until the entire hose is coiled.
Q. I have a 14 AWG extension cord that is much thicker than most other 14 AWG cords. How can it be thicker with no more transmission capacity than a more common one?
The vast majority of extension cords are constructed exactly the same for a given AWG gauge. There are however, exceptions. Along with AWG gauge, the markings along the length show other specification codes relating to the construction of the cord and it’s capacities. Multiple letters are often found, such as SJT or SJTOW or SEOW. A cord starting with SJ refers to standard extension cord construction. A cord without the J designates heavy duty construction that makes it much thicker than normal. Other code letters signify: T for thermoplastic insulation, E for thermoplastic elastomer insulation (more rubber-like than thermoplastic), O for oil resistant and W for moisture and sunlight resistant. If you wish to use a Roadee organizer with a thicker-than-normal cord, you may need to use the Roadee 12 model or even a hose model Roadee. Use the “Gauge Check” notches on the packaging to determine which Roadee is appropriate for your extension cord.
A list of Roadee Frequently Asked Questions
Q. The Roadee is sometimes upside down from what I want and I have to unclip it and re-clip it the other way to get a twist out of the split ring.
You can replace your Roadee split ring with a small, fishing swivel. That issue goes away.
Q. Sometimes the strap sticks in the slot. How do ensure the strap is fully disengaged?
A. The one-piece Roadee design provides two side-located, release levers. Try to pull the levers back together rather than twisting the latch by pulling or pushing-in a lever on one side.
Q. How do I remove the cord collar?
A. Collars are intended to be permanent. You can “tweeze” the collar latch legs and at the same time, use a mini flat screwdriver to pry apart the collar halves slightly for all four latches. Repeated collar removal can wear out the collar latches.
Q. The collar slides along the cord. How do I make it grip the cord tighter?
A. Remove the collar as described above, then reinstall with common glue.
Q. How do I identify 16 AWG and 14 AWG collar pieces?
A. The AWG collar gauge is embossed on every collar piece.
Q. What if my custom cord is too long for the Roadee?
A. There are five sizes of Roadees. Choose the Roadee size that best suits your needs.