So, here’s the skinny—can you charge your electric car with an extension cord? The short answer? Yes. The (even more) short answer? No.
Ah, but before you go confounding yourself with that seemingly contradictory answer, let’s get into it. In the interest of educating the wise and dealing with the confused, I’m gonna make sure you are armed with enough knowledge to make that informed decision when finally presented with the task of “can I plug my electric car into my outdoor extension cord?”
The Pros and Cons of Charging an Electric Car with an Extension Cord
Let’s dive into the pros and cons of charging your electric car with an extension cord. On the plus side, charging your car with an extension cord is easy, and it can save you a few bucks. The cords are fairly inexpensive, and if you’re using it just for occasional charging, you can probably go with a lower-end model and be fine.
On the downside, if you try to use an extension cord to charge your electric car for extended periods of time, you risk burning out the cord, damaging the outlet, and creating dangerous electrical safety hazards. Plus, since extension cords are often low quality (read: not made for an electric car’s load), they are likely to take forever to charge your car and you’ll lose a lot of your juice before you even finish.
Safety Precautions When Using an Extension Cord for Charging
Now, let’s move on to safety precautions when using an extension cord for charging. First and foremost, never plug an extension cord into an outlet meant for another device, especially an electric car. Doing so can void your electric car’s warranty, and if there’s an existing electrical hazard, you’ll be making the situation even more dangerous.
Always make sure the extension cord you use for charging is made for the purpose of charging car batteries—not just any old cord you have belying in your toolbox or garage. Not only will this ensure safer charging, but it will also decrease the time it takes to charge your car, saving you time and energy.
Also, when using an extension cord for charging, you should always check that the wattage of the outlet your cord is plugged into is the same wattage of your car’s battery, and that it’s the same voltage. This will protect your car’s battery, and reduce the chances of a short circuit.
Finally, make sure you only use a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet when plugging in your electric car. This will protect you, your car, and your extension cord from any potential power surges or short circuits.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Extension Cord for Charging an Electric Car
Now, let’s talk about some of the factors to consider when choosing an extension cord for charging an electric car. First, you need to make sure the cord you choose is rated for the specific type of battery your electric car has (typically either Li-ion or LiFePO4). This rating, or gauge, is important for two reasons—first, it determines how much charge the cord will be able to deliver, and second, it will prevent damage from overheating.
Second, the cord you choose should be built with high-quality components. Cheap cords can be dangerous, as they can easily become overheated, catch fire, or begin arcing. You should also make sure your cord has a UL listed or UL certified rating, which will help ensure its electrical safety.
Thirdly, consider the cord’s length. It can be beneficial to have an extension cord that is longer than your car’s charging distance, as it will allow you to “reach” further. However, be aware that the longer the cord, the more energy it will require—which means you run the risk of blowing out the outlet if the wattage it is not sufficient.
At the end of the day, whether or not you decide to charge your electric car with an extension cord comes down to your own personal judgement. As you’ve probably gathered by now, there are both pros and cons to using an extension cord for this purpose, and ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh them and decide what is best for your situation.
Doing so safely is of the utmost importance, so make sure you pay attention to safety precautions, stay vigilant for hazards, and choose a high-quality extension cord.
With some care and understanding of the risks and rewards, you can easily use an extension cord to charge your electric car!