View Full Version : Source for low-current outdoor extension cords?

07-04-2007, 10:24 PM
I'd like to try to find some weather-resistant outdoor extension cords for my display this year, as an alternative to using indoor cords which will be rained on for a month.

Does anyone know of a good source for inexpensive outdoor cords which are rated for low amperage use? Since I'm running loads of around 0.5A on them, I don't need the typical 20A outdoor cords you tend to find.

07-05-2007, 01:05 AM
This is what I do. Works great, fast easy and a lot cheaper!


I will be moving this to the wiki.

Jeff Millard
07-09-2007, 06:08 AM
Very slick Matt. It's probably a better connection than the Dollar Store cords I use too. Where were you when I was spending all those dollars making all those cables last year? :lol:

07-09-2007, 01:07 PM

Does cutting the prongs shorter on the plug make them completely un-usable in a regular outlet?


P. Short
07-09-2007, 02:17 PM
How much are you spending on the quick-disconnect terminals? The best price that I've seen in mouser is $.12 each (p/n 159-2215, in quantities of 100). I would consider soldering to an AC power outlet (p/n 738W-CS2/01, $.36 each in quantities of 50). Unfortunately, they are not in stock now (on order instead).



07-09-2007, 02:18 PM

Does cutting the prongs shorter on the plug make them completely un-usable in a regular outlet?


I haven't tried, however I would assume it wouldn't be as safe as a non cut plug. The first year I hooked the quick connect on without cutting the plug then wrapped black electrical tape on the exposed ends. It was a mess cleaning it up.

I figured I have no plans on using the lights with normal outlets so cutting them is not a problem. I was going to cut the light string plug off, however I wanted to keep the fuse on the string of lights.

I used this method to avoid spending money on bulky boxes and standard outlets.


07-09-2007, 02:30 PM
you could always use the quick connect and heat shrink tubing. That would make a nice tight clean seal.

07-09-2007, 02:36 PM
Does cutting the prongs shorter on the plug make them completely un-usable in a regular outlet?Yes, they are too short to even stay in.

I've also used this method to attach a power cord to a wallwart supply. It was on a test fixture at work. I had several things that I wanted to turn on at the same time with one switch and needed the wallwart for a logic supply. I placed about three inches of heatshrink over the quick disconnect and the wire (so it wouldn’t move).

This also works great if you need a supply inside of a case. This way you only have a cord outside of the box and a self contained supply inside.

Jeff Millard
07-09-2007, 02:42 PM
Lowes Sells a box of these connectors for around $4 for 100. They are insulated as in the pictures on CC. I slid them on a set of minis and feel that with a little electrical tape they would not be unsafe. I also tried the heatshrink idea. I slid a piece of heatshrink over the plug spade and then slid the connector on. A little heat from the torch and there was no permanent alteration to the plug. When I pulled the connector off, the heatshrink came with it. It is still rigid enough to reuse. This is a good idea as you retain use of the plug and the fuses in it. I had considered removing the plugs from my megatree and replacing them with Molex. I do believe I have a little mod to make to my tree cables before the Holidays that no longer includes expensive plugs....

07-09-2007, 04:03 PM
I've never actually used heat shrink. What size would be good for this? I think I'll pick some up on my next Mouser order.


07-09-2007, 04:29 PM
Always use the smallest that will fit over whatever you’re covering. It will typically shrink to half of the original size.

I have an un-insulated connector that is .300” wide and an insulated connector is .375”. The heatshrink that I have that measures .325 inside, just barely fits over the insulated connector if I squeeze the tubing slightly.

07-13-2007, 09:52 AM
Using the 1/4" fastons,
and the heat shrink tubing make it so the plugs don't have to be cut.
I started making some cords but realized that Wal-M and HD both sell orange (and sometimes green) extention cords for less that the price of the wire itself.
The 16/2 lamp cord wire at HD is 18cents a foot.
So a 50 foot cord is $9 just for the wire.
Add a vampire plug for $2, and some crimp on connectors and the price is over $11.
At WM and HD the 16/3 orange cable with connectors is $8.
compare the 100 foot cables and the price is about half, $20 vs $13.
So unless you get the wire much cheaper than 13 cents a foot.
Buy the cords pre-made.
I'm still making some, even at the higher cost, just to have some lite weight extensions for hanging from hooks on the house.

07-13-2007, 11:40 AM
18/2 Lamp cord works great. I did not need 16/2 as the SSRs won't handle any more AMPs then what 18/2 is rated for. I did not use any */3.

I bought bulk (250 ft) 18/2 lamp wire last year, 1 spool for .10/ft and 1 spool for .14/ft. In addition to getting custom lengths I found that at the end of the season storing the bulk cable was easier as well.

My SSR boards have screw contacts, so the only hardware besides wire was the fastons. Those cost only pennies.

For 500ft of 18/2 with faston connections, I spent ~$60 last year. Per the other calculations that is only a savings of about $5, but I was happy with the custom lengths and less bulky storage.