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#32685 12/31/03 02:08 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 141
elecbob Offline OP
A fire destroyed a $750.000 house yesterday. The cause was an extension cord feeding a space heater.
It seems to me that it would be easy to have a fusable link built into the plug of extension cords. The code should require it on any cord smaller than #14.

#32686 12/31/03 03:05 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
While I must say that this would be a good idea.
There is also the problem of people by-passing the link after it has operated, to get the cord-set working again.
What about a cord-set with a Minature Circuit Breaker type device in the Male end of the cord?.

#32687 12/31/03 06:48 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 8
Junior Member
Why not a little something from both? The link for all existing space heaters. And instead of having the minature circuit breaker on the cord, make it part of the space heater itself. I know I have seen some appliances with "new" cords on them. With the circuit breaker part of the heater itself, diyer can't bypass that breaker.

#32688 12/31/03 07:00 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
Tim the heater will not "know" what size extension cord it is plugged into.

If the heater draws 16 amps it would need a fuse or breaker to handle that.

Now the unknowing homeowner uses a 16 AWG cord and melts the cord.

FYI a 16 AWG cord has an NEC ampacity of 13 amps.

Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
#32689 12/31/03 07:20 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 794
Likes: 3
It seems to me that it would be easy to have a fusable link built into the plug of extension cords. The code should require it on any cord smaller than #14.

If that becomes required, many companies will likely just quit making cords smaller than 14 gauge wire. Which would also help solve this problem...

#32690 12/31/03 07:47 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
At one of the big orange DIY shed this past weekend, I ran across a new type of 16-AWG extension cord with a GFCI plug similar to that on some modern hair dryers.

In addition to this, the double-jacketed cord also had a shield around the two conductors in order to detect shorts in the cord thereby tripping the shut-off in the plug.

It came from El Salvador...of all places.... [Linked Image]

An interesting concept in theory, but picture the average consumer when confronted with the $8 super-smart extension cord versus the equivalent length $1 standard cord from the dollar store. The consumer will almost always go for the $1 cord...

Space heaters EXPLICITLY state that they must not be used with extension cords. It's not only the overheating of the extension CORD that's the's also the connection between the heater's plug and the extension cord's female connector.

I've noticed heater plug pins tend to heat up a bit. It's not a problem when the thing is plugged into a socket made out of heat resistant plastic like bakelite.

However when you connect the heater to an extension cord -- the typical rubber or flexible vinyl female end will normally get very soft as it gets noticeably hot.

I've done this experiment on 16-gauge extension cords and the even older 18-gauge cords and wound up overheating and damaging the contacts on one of those molded-on rubber female ends.

#32691 12/31/03 09:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 141
elecbob Offline OP
My point is that the $1 extension cords should not be available to consumers unless they have built in protection that limits their load. Only the NEC could do this. Or maybe a humongous lawsuit from surviving members of a family that used one of these pieces of crap.

#32692 12/31/03 10:25 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 18
I couldn't agree more with the idea. It would certainly prevent a lot of tragedies from happening. Of course anybody could just cut the end off and bypass it but at least they couldn't sue the cord maker which is, I'm sure, the standard practice in our litigious society.

Wiring is no hobby
#32693 01/01/04 03:23 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
No the NEC could NOT do this.
Since the NEC is or is not adopted by state and/or local goverments, and is frequently admended by governing agencies, all a cord manufacturer would do is sue because such a restriction could be a restriction of intestate commerece.
I'd bet there would be plenty of lawyers who would take a caes like that. [Linked Image]

#32694 01/01/04 05:15 AM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 119
cant they but a fuse int it like xmas tree light plugs? only with a better qualty plug and fuse?

Theres always enough room in the junction box.You just need a bigger hammer
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