Can You Use an Extension Cord With a Portable AC Unit

In an ideal situation, a portable air conditioner should be placed close enough to an outlet for the built-in power cord to reach it with ease, but that’s not always a possibility. So, if you’re in a rush and need rapid relief from the heat, can you use an extension cord to connect your portable AC to the outlet?

Extension cords can be used to power a portable air conditioner, but they’re only recommended for temporary usage. Extension cords for air conditioners should be a minimum of 14-gauge.

Let’s take a look at how and when to use an extension cord for a portable air conditioner and which kind of cord to use.

Can You Use an Extension Cord for a Portable AC? 

Portable Air Conditioner closeup

Yes, but it’s best not to do so in the long-term. If your air conditioner unit will be in place for an extended period or utilized frequently, you should replace your extension cord with a new outlet.

Air conditioner manufacturers and fire departments alike recommend that you only plug your air conditioner into a wall outlet because extension cords can quickly heat up and catch fire, risking harm to users and their property.

What Kind of Extension Cord Can You Use With a Portable AC? 

Portable air conditioner in the office connected to an outlet

To select the appropriate extension cord to use with your portable air conditioner, you must first determine how much power your unit consumes, which is found on the appliance’s label. There are a few factors at play here.

Wattage refers to how much electricity the device uses to function. A window air conditioner’s typical wattage ranges from 900 to 1,500. 

Amperage, meanwhile, measures the current, or how the electricity flows. To calculate the amperage of your unit, divide the wattage by 120 volts.

And the third factor is voltage, which is how much electrical force is needed.

When it comes to extension cords, they’re rated on these three factors. The unit used is called a gauge.

One tricky thing to note is that lower-gauged extension cords can actually handle more amps. For portable ACs, a minimum of gauge of 14 is recommended.

If the extension cord’s rating is lower than that of the portable air conditioner, it will heat up and catch fire. As a result, it might be highly hazardous to one’s safety. As a result, we recommend using a heavy-duty extension cord with a better rating than your portable air conditioner.

Here are the kinds of extension cords that you can use with a portable air conditioner:

10-Gauge Cord

A 10-gauge cord can manage higher power demands than 14- or 12-gauge cords. This heavy-duty option from LifeSupplyUSA (on Amazon) has an 1,875 watt rating and a sturdy design.

The cord, which is 10 feet long, features a dark color so that it blends in with the environment, and a lighted end will clearly indicate when the power is on.

12-Gauge Cord

This 12-gauge cable (on Amazon) is rated at 1,875 watts and 15 amps at 125 volts, which will work with almost any window air conditioner, portable AC, and most freestanding units. It includes a slip-resistant design and a flexible vinyl cover that protects against moisture, abrasion, and sunlight.

It’s safer to use a 12-gauge cord when an air conditioner draws more current when it first turns on and avoid poor performance due to voltage loss.

A 12-gauge heavy-duty extension cord can be found in the electrical section of a hardware store but not in a general-purpose store like your neighborhood drugstore. 

14-Gauge Cord

The current drawn by a 1,500-watt unit is 12.5 amps. A 14-gauge extension cord can carry that much electricity, but keep in mind that, like other appliances, an air conditioner draws more current when it first turns on. The connector also has grip grooves for a secure grasp when joining and disconnecting.

This 14-gauge cord (on Amazon) features a locking connection. The lock is easy to use and prevents unwanted disconnects with a simple lever twist. The durable cord also features a high visible yellow and blue color and a water resistant vinyl jacket.