Can I Plug A Portable AC Into An Extension Cord & What To Do?

Although portable air conditioners are easy to transport, this does not imply that they can be placed wherever you want. Because portable air conditioners must exhaust hot air from the room via the exhaust hose, they should be placed near a window in most cases.

People who don’t have an outlet near the window often wonder if they can use an extension cord with their portable AC.

The answer is YES, but it is only a temporary solution. You should opt for a reliable heavy-duty extension cord that can carry more current than your machine draws and use it with caution.

There are some additional details you should be aware of. In the following sections, I’ll explain how to choose a suitable extension cord for your portable air conditioner and how to use it safely. 

Let’s jump into it right now!

Can you plug a portable air conditioner into an extension cord?

If you need immediate relief from the heat but your portable AC’s power cord is too short to reach the nearest outlet, using an extension cord appears to be the only option.

Fortunately, plugging your portable ac into an extension cord is generally safe as long as the extension cord can handle the current your portable AC requires.

However, it is important to note that using an extension cord should not be used as a permanent solution because it can cause overheating, a short circuit, a blown fuse, or even a fire if not used properly.

If you are also wondering if you can use an extension cord with your window AC, check here.

Can you use a regular extension cord with a portable air conditioner?

Are you feel excited when you know that you can power your AC with an extension cord? Hold on! Not every regular extension cord in your house can be used for your AC. You should get a heavy-duty one for it. 

Usually, a regular extension cord is rated for 8A or 10A small household appliances. Since portable air conditioners consume much more energy than other electrical appliances (more on that later), such an extension cord is not likely to be able to carry the current your portable AC needs. 

If you connect your portable AC to a regular one, you will risk dealing with a melting plug or even a fire. 

What extension cord do I need for a portable AC?

Now that we’ve established that a standard extension cord is not a suitable option, let’s talk about how to choose an extension cord for a portable AC.

Three-prong extension cord

Again, portable air conditioners have a high power rating, necessitating the use of a three-prong extension cord. This type of extension cord, by connecting to the ground, can prevent electric shock in the event of an accident.

Choose an appropriate wire gauge

Many extension cords are classified according to wire gauge, which refers to the physical size of the wire. The larger the size, the more amperes of current the cord can carry. That is, for your portable AC, you should purchase an extension cord with a larger wire size.

But what size should the extension cord be? You should calculate the current rating of your portable AC first. Once you find the power rating on the label, you can divide it by 120 volts or 220 volts, depending on where you live. Then you will know the electric current your portable needs to draw. 

In addition to that, portable air conditioners tend to draw more current when it starts up, indicating that you should choose an extension cord that can handle a few more amps of current.

Typically, the power rating of a portable AC ranges from 1200W to 2500W, meaning that the current rating will be around 10A to 20A. When converting the amperage to the wire gauge, you can know that you should opt for an extension cord from 16 gauge to 10 gauge.

As a side note, a 16-gauge wire can carry 13 amps, whereas a 6-gauge wire can carry 55 amps. Most models need a 12-gauge or 10-gauge extension cord. 

The extension cord length shouldn’t be too long

Becuase the longer the extension cord, the greater resistance the current will surpass, you should make sure the extension cord length is not too long. The best length is about the distance between your portable AC and the wall outlet.

Meanwhile, it will result in energy waste, leaving impressive figures on your electricity bill.


Safety considerations for using an extension cord with a portable AC

After getting a proper extension cord for your portable AC, the next step is to install it. When installing and using it, you should proceed with caution.

Connect the extension cord firmly to your portable AC and the power outlet

When the connection is loose, the current will encounter much more resistance, similar to using a long cord. This will overheat the extension cord and outlet, resulting in a variety of hazards.

Unroll the extension cord

When current flows through an extension cord, it generates a lot of heat. If there isn’t enough space for it to disperse, the plastic insulation will melt and catch fire.

As a result, you should never allow the extension cord to become coiled.

Keep it out of reach of children and pets.

If at all possible, avoid placing the extension cord in a location where your children or pets can easily access it, such as on the floor. This could cause not only a tripping hazard, but also electric shock or fire, which is the last thing you want to see.

Recap

Using an extension cord with a portable AC is not recommended. However, if you need to power your portable AC right away, this may be a viable option.

It is critical to understand that the extension cord you use must be capable of carrying the current drawn by your machine. You should determine the Amp rating and then purchase an extension cord of the appropriate size. A 10-gauge or 12-gauge cord could be a good choice for most models on the market.

Finally, please use it with caution and contact a professional as soon as possible to install a new outlet for you.

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Liz Yang is the founder of Airsmartly. She has been working at home for a few years and realizes that the performance of the HVAC system plays such an important role in our life. She has tested a lot of products in person, like humidifiers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and ACs, and wants to share tips about using or troubleshooting these products with you. Her uncle is an HVAC expert with over 30 years of experience in the field, and often offers assistance when she is unsure how to handle a situation. He is also in charge of reviewing the articles on this site.