Can you use an extension cord with an electric pressure washer? The answer is that you shouldn’t, but if you absolutely must it’s important to choose the right cord. The wrong extension cord gauge or length could result in injury to you or damage to the pressure washer.
We’re not talking about little shocks either. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), about 4,000 people have to go to the emergency room over an accident with an extension cord. Additionally, more than 5,000 homes catch fires from electrical accidents with extension cords.
Beyond accidents, using an extension cord with a pressure washer that isn’t designed for it, or using the wrong extension cord with a pressure washer that is designed for it, can cause many problems with the pressure washer itself. You may find that your pressure washer cycles or shorts after it has been used with an extension cord. It may also give out poor pressure, or simply stop working.
Electric pressure washers are cheaper than gas ones, but you still don’t want to have to go out and buy another one. Here’s how you can determine if you can safely use an extension cord.
The Right Extension Cord for Your Pressure Washer
How do you figure out if you can use an extension cord and if so, which kind of extension cord is best? Check with your owner’s manual for your pressure washer. It’ll tell you if and what you can use. Different pressure washer manufacturers recommend different gauges and length of cord. Most suggest you do not use one at all, but some give you an option if you absolutely must.
For example, Sun Joe recommends a 24-foot maximum length extension cord. It should also be 14 gauge and fit for outdoor use. This is for their Sun Joe SPX3000. If you’re looking at what your manufacture recommends you might wonder: What does all of that mean? Here’s a quick explanation:
- Gauge: Gauge is the thickness of the copper wire inside of the pressure washer. Essentially, it effects how much power the pressure washer can deliver. Smaller gauges deliver more power, or voltas. It is important not to deliver more or less power than the pressure washer needs. Not only do you need to make sure that your pressure washer is fit the for the extension cords, gauge, you have to make sure that the extension cord can be used with the outlets you have. The outlet and the extension cord should have matching voltage.
- Length: Length is important only because as electricity moves through copper wire, its voltage drops. Longer cords need to have different gauges to deliver the right electricity to your pressure washer. If they don’t, they may cause accidents and damage to the pressure washer.
- Prongs: The number of prongs on your extension cord is also something you should consider. The third prong is ground, which safely discharges excess electricity into the ground under normal circumstances. You should use a three-prong plug and extension cord when you have access to them, as grounding makes electrical equipment safer.
- Outdoor: Extension cords that are rated for outdoor use have to be thicker and more waterproof, among other things. Obviously, you’ll need such an extension cord when using a pressure washer. On the other hand, keep in mind that an extension cord may not withstand the impact of a pressure washer. Never spray the cord.
Potential Extension Cords for Your Pressure Washer
You should always check with your pressure washer manufacturer before you use or choose an extension cord. However, if your manufacturer recommends a 25-foot, 14-gauge outdoor extension cord with three prongs, all three of these extension cables fit the bill:
- Iron Forge Extension Cable: This cord has LED lights to indicate when the extension cord is powered.
- Simbr Extension Cord: This power cord is black which may be convenient so you can easily tell it apart from your other extension cords.
- Yellow Jacket Extension Cord: This power cord touts its durability and flexibility.
Tips to Avoid Using an Extension Cord with a Pressure Washer
So, you have a pressure washer that can’t be used with an extension cord. Is there a way to plan your project so that you can still complete it? Here are some tips to help you get it done anyway:
- Moveable items: If the item you are cleaning is moveable, you should aim to move it within reach of your pressure washer before you start. Choose your plug and measure out the length of your pressure washer’s power cable to know how close you can get it.
- Siding: You can’t move siding. However, you can move the pressure washer. Choose indoor plugs you can attach the pressure washer too and measure out how far it can reach. You may have to move it once or twice to get the whole house, but you may be able to do it. That said, don’t allow the power cord to be squished in a door or a window, that’s the recipe for an accident.
- Generators: Professionals who want to be able to use an electric pressure washer without relying on the homeowner’s outlets use portable generators to plug their pressure washer. If you happen to have a suitable generator this can be a great solution for you.
Although, if you’re willing to buy a generator you might just consider buying a new pressure washer. Annovi Reverberi has a pressure washer with a 35-foot power cord. This is unusual, as most power cords on electric pressure washers are 25-foot. Or, you could choose a gas pressure washer which is free from the constraints of an electrical power cord at all.
More Pressure Washer Safety Tips
Pressure washers are fun to use, but you have to be careful to keep yourself safe while you use them. Check out our other guides to learn how to properly and safely use your pressure washer.