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Extension Cord

Can You Run An Air Conditioner With A Extension Cord?

For professional AC installation, contact our experts at Carrano Air HVAC Contractors Inc.! Call us today at (732) 329-3784.

So you’ve just bought an air conditioner to keep the room cooler during the hot savanna summers. But you have encountered a common problem. The device cable does not reach the nearest socket.

Can you run an air conditioner with an extension cord? If you decide to use such a cable, you need to consider various specifications of the cable. Robust extension cables are required for efficient and safe operation of AC devices.

At Carrano Air we encourage you to contact us to have new branches installed. A professionally installed outlet provides power to your device safely and efficiently. However, we understand that you may need immediate relief from the summer heat.

As a South Brunswick air conditioning repair service, we have provided a quick guide to choosing the right extension cord and some safety measures to consider. You can’t just use any extension cord on the shelf or in storage. Read on to learn how to make the safest choice.

Can You Run an Air Conditioner on an Extension Cord?

Air Conditioner With A Extension CordThe short answer to this question is yes. You can run an air conditioner on an extension cord. However, air conditioning systems use a lot of energy to operate.

Choosing the wrong type of cable could cause a house fire. You need power cords that transmit the necessary electrical current without overheating or overloading the AC motor. Below we list the specifications that your new cable must meet.  

Current Capacity

First, you need to know the energy efficiency of your device. This depends on the size of your unit. You can usually find this information in your owner’s manual.

What does energy efficiency mean? This term generally refers to a seizure. A percentage of power consumption allows the device to produce power. The remaining percentage is lost throughout the function.

For example, your device is 70% energy efficient. This means that 70% of the power consumed by the input is transferred to the output. The remaining 30% is spent on factors such as friction and displacement.

Your extension cord should be a good match for the energy efficiency of your device. This means less energy is lost throughout the entire process. 


If your manual doesn’t specify energy efficiency, you can also determine your device’s power needs based on amperage. The term watt refers to the amount of energy your sector uses.

Find the power you need. Next, divide the wattage by the expressed voltage. This shows how many amps your device needs.

Any extension cords you use should be rated for the minimum current rating. You should also find the amplifiers of any circuits you plan to use. When your circuits become overloaded, your circuit breaker trips.  

Wire Gauge

How much current can your new cable carry? The gauge of the cable will help you determine this. As a rule of thumb, you should choose a cable with twice the required amperage of your power system.

Higher numbers indicate lower strength. Therefore, a 16AWG cannot safely handle the strength level of a 10AWG. For most device types, we recommend 12 gauge cable unless your manual states otherwise.

However, depending on its size, your device may have a higher strength. If you have the budget, opt for a 10-gauge extension cord. This helps keep your home safe while your device is in use.  


The length of the extension plays a crucial role in your safety. A longer cable increases resistance. This makes your device work harder and use more energy throughout its operating cycle.

Choose the shortest extension cord available. If you need a longer cable, increase the cable size to accommodate the resistance. This prevents dangers such as electric shock or electrical fires. This also prevents your electricity bills from increasing so much.  


Finally, choose a three-prong plug instead of two. Three-prong plugs have a ground point. They pass excess electricity directly to the ground.

Two-pin plugs do not offer this safety measure. If your device is not working properly, a two-pin cable can cause the following problems:

  • Electrocution from power surges
  • AC unit damage
  • Electrical fires

Because three-prong cables have a grounding point, excess current is not distributed and cannot cause damage to the surrounding area.

When to Use an Extension Cord

Can you run an air conditioner with an extension cord? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. For the safety of your family and home, you should only use an extension cord with your air conditioner under the right circumstances.

You should only use an extension cord temporarily and as a last resort. Before purchasing, contact our reputable technicians at Carrano Air. We could find a better solution to protect your home, such as:

  • Replacement of the original power cord. In some cases we add a longer cable to your device. Many homeowners prefer this non-invasive option because of the quick and easy work.
  • Socket installation. We will install a new outlet closer to your device. You can conveniently and safely connect the device to the wall.
  • Portable units. You can easily move these units as needed. They are a great option for people who need to freshen up one room at a time. They also don’t require any new equipment.

However, some homeowners require instant cooling comfort in the summer. In rare cases, they may not consider any of these alternatives. An extension therefore offers the only solution.

Make sure your extension cord meets the following requirements:

  • Plug with three prongs
  • Shortest length possible
  • Meets current capacity and amperage
  • 12-gauge wire or lower

Make notes about your device’s specifications after reading your manual carefully. To ensure safety and efficiency, match your extension cord specifications to the specific needs of your device.

Safe Usage

If you have no choice but to use an extension with your air conditioner, familiarize yourself with the common dangers associated with using it. Implement methods to avoid these dangers. Even extension cords that meet all your needs pose a risk of fire. You can avoid them by checking general indicators.

Avoid Overheating

When using your air conditioner, occasionally lightly touch the following components:

  • The unit
  • The wall around the outlet 
  • The cord

If any of these components feel hot, turn off your air conditioner and call us to investigate the problem.

Many people will continue to use a device if the area is slightly warm. But even small temperature spikes can indicate too much resistance or too much current. Even if you don’t notice any immediate danger, constant use increases your risk.

Overheated components can melt insulation, cause sparks, and expose dangerous parts. It can also indicate that your air conditioner is working harder than expected to keep your home cool. Overloading an air conditioner can cause it to fail prematurely.

Drop in Voltage

Even after purchasing the best extension cable for your device, you may notice that the performance quality decreases. Because your device has to work against electrical resistance to draw power, a voltage drop can occur. Voltage drops can affect the performance of the device’s motor.

A stalling engine puts more strain on your device over time. With each cyclic start and stop, your device’s components wear out faster. This cycle forces the device to use more energy to operate.

Other Safety Tips

Your AC unit has a short cord for a reason. A shorter cable ensures optimal performance, efficient operation and safety throughout the device’s operation. To avoid risks, only use short extension cables.

Check your extension cord regularly for damage. You may notice burn marks, melting plastic or rubber, or exposed wires. If you notice such damage, purchase a new cable immediately. Damaged cables increase the risk of fire, electric shock and malfunction.

Many homeowners hide their extension cords under furniture or carpets. We recommend you not to do this. Even the best extension cords can overheat if the heat isn’t released into the air.

Keeping your cord fully visible will prevent overheating and tripping hazards. Although a visible extension cord can look unsightly, hiding it increases the risk of people stepping on it. Foot traffic damages the integrity of the cable by bending the wires and damaging the surrounding rubber insulation.

You can also reduce damage by securing the cable to the wall with tape. Your cable stays visible and out of the way.

Plug the extension cord directly into a power outlet. Do not use additional cables or power strips to increase the length. Adding additional cords reduces tension while increasing resistance.

Choose Carrano Air for Safer AC Usage

Can you run an air conditioner with an extension cord? Although you can use one of them, we recommend finding another solution. Although extension cords are a convenient option, their risks often outweigh their benefits.

At Carrano Air HVAC Contractors Inc. we help you find the safest, most efficient way to keep your home cool in South Brunswick, New Jersey. We offer expert services to ensure the optimal performance of your heating and air conditioning systems. When you choose us, you value safety and comfort. Call us at (732) 329-3784 for air conditioning service with a satisfaction guarantee.

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