Can You Plug A (Hair, Clothes, Tumble) Dryer Into an Extension Cord?

Can I use a hair dryer with an extension cord has become one of the most common questions among homeowners these days. This is especially a pressing issue for people who regularly use a hair dryer and face inconvenience due to short cords.

For such people using an extension cord seems to be a really tempting solution. Though experts discourage the use of extension cords for dryers of any kind, using a heavy-duty extension cord with a dryer is considered safe.

If you use a hair dryer or clothes dryer regularly and do not have sufficient wall outlets to plug your appliance or face problems due to the shorter length of cords, you have come to the right place.

In this guide, we have made things clear for you. We have discussed in detail what are the dangers associated with plugging a dryer into an extension cord and the safety tips that one must keep in mind to reduce chances of accidents. Continue reading below for more detailed information.

Can You Plug A Dryer Into An Extension Cord?

Can You Plug A Dryer Into An Extension Cord

Yes, one can plug a dryer into an extension cord, only if one can find the appropriate kind of extension cord. If you really need to use an extension cord to power your dryer, make sure it’s a heavy-duty extension cord that’s specially designed to power such heavy-duty appliances.

Electrical appliances like Tumble dryers consume a lot of current and these heavy-duty extension cords are manufactured to handle the heavy flow of electricity, unlike the ordinary extension cords. Therefore, while using a dryer with an extension cord, always remember to check if it’s a heavy-duty one.

Using an extension cord with any kind of heat-generating appliances like a Tumble dryer, Hair dryer, etc. is discouraged. These heat-generating appliances consume too much electricity from the source. If you use a regular extension cord instead of a heavy-duty one, the cord would fail to handle the high amount of current flowing, ultimately melting down and starting a fire. That’s why homeowners must always plug dryers to the wall outlet directly.

If you intend to buy a heavy-duty extension cord, there are certain prerequisites that you must keep in mind. We have discussed them in detail later in this guide.

What Happens If You Plug Dryer Into An Extension Cord?

What Happens If You Plug Dryer Into An Extension Cord

Using the wrong extension cord with your dryer, irrespective of its kind, is extremely dangerous. Now, the extent of risk and danger varies according to the type of dryer you are using.

For instance, if it’s a gas dryer and you have plugged it into an ordinary extension cord, the risk is less as compared to electrical dryers. However, this doesn’t mean we are promoting or encouraging the use of ordinary extension cords for gas dryers.

If it’s a fully electric hair or clothes dryer, the risks are more fatal. That’s because electric dryers draw in a larger amount of current from the source. The source usually conducts 240 V of electricity, something which ordinary extension cords cannot handle.

Ordinary extension cords are thin or too long and hence therefore they are less safer. For electric dryers, one must choose a heavy duty extension cord that’s both thick and short in length. Without these qualities, the cord is likely to trip or get overloaded. This leads to overheating or the plastic casing melting. Ultimately, this causes a fire hazard.

Electric fires aren’t like any other fire. These fires cannot be extinguished using water, because water acts as a conductor of electricity in this case. So if someone tries to stop the fire from spreading by using water, the person would help the fire spread more. Also, any stream of water between the fire and the person can send shocks to the person.

The only way to put out these dangerous electric fires is to limit the supply of oxygen or use a fire extinguisher or use baking soda. Keeping in mind how fatal electric fires can be, experts advise homeowners not to use extension cords with electric dryers.

Is It Safe To Plug A Dryer Into An Extension Cord?

Is It Safe To Plug A Dryer Into An Extension Cord

Yes, it’s safe to plug a dryer into an extension cord, if the cord you have chosen is a heavy-duty one. If your extension cord is an ordinary one, powering a dryer with it is extremely unsafe.

We have already mentioned that dryers need a heavy flow of electricity for their functioning. An ordinary extension cord isn’t designed to handle such high flow of electricity. Therefore, it becomes overheated and can cause a fire hazard any moment.

Hence, to ensure safety of the appliance and the people around, one must use a heavy-duty extension cord for an electric dryer. However, if you are using a gas dryer, the risks are less.

The dryer extension cord you buy must be around 12 gauges. Ideally, your extension cord must be around 12 AWG 16 Amp and should have a wattage rating of  1,920. There are other safety measures to follow in this regard. Keep reading below to know more.

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Safety Tips: Things To Know Before Plugging A Dryer Into An Extension Cord

If you plug your electric tumble dryer or a dryer of any sort irrespective of its kind, directly to a wall outlet, make sure it’s within a distance of 2 feet within both sides of the appliance. However, if you intend to use an extension cord, keep the following safety tips in mind:

Use Heavy-Duty Extension Cords

If you do not find any nearby outlet to use your dryer, and the only viable option is using an extension cord, make sure to pick up a heavy-duty extension cord, that’s designed to handle the heavy flow of electricity through it.

Check The Volt Rating

Make sure to see whether the volt rating, wattage and AMP of the extension cord is equivalent to or higher than that of the dryer. The more powerful the dryer, the higher wattage rating is required.

Buy A Cord With The Right Gauge

When it comes to buying a suitable extension cord for your dryer, always remember that the smaller the gauge number, more is the gauge and thicker is the cord. Ideally, pick an extension cord of 10 to 12 gauges.

Choose a Cord With The Appropriate Length

Your dryer extension cord must be at least 4 feet. Usually, dryer wires have a standard length of 6 feet. We advise homeowners not to choose cords of a bigger length because the more the length, more is the resistance.

When resistance is high, the cord is more likely to get overheated. Therefore, go for shorter cords as they offer less resistance.

Connect Dryer to 240V Receptacle

Since electric dryers consume a lot of electricity for their functioning, one must connect them directly to a 240 V receptacle. A 240 V outlet is ideal to power heating appliances like dryers, irons, etc. 

Connecting your dryer to a 240 V receptacle allows the current to flow at a faster rate that is needed for its normal functioning.

Using an ordinary extension cord would fail to handle such a high requirement of electricity. It will only lead to overheating and potential electrical fires. That’s why it’s important to use heavy duty extension cords for this purpose.

Use the Extension Cord For The Dryer Alone

Just like the length, gauge and thickness of the extension cord, the usage also matters. Since these heating devices require a high amount of electricity, it’s important to use the extension cord safely.

Never plug two electrical appliances into the same extension cord at the same time. Even if the extension cord is a heavy duty one, there are high chances of overheating and a possible fire hazard. For similar reasons , one shouldn’t use a low voltage receptacle to power a dryer.

Always keep in mind that more and more appliances deriving current from the same extension cord will cause an increased electrical traffic which creates a pressure on the cord. With increased pressure on the cord, overheating and electric fires are likely to occur.

Make Sure The Extension Cord Is Grounded

Never use a two-prong plug or cord while powering a dryer. The ground pin is extremely important and ensures everyone’s safety. Therefore, make it a point to pick a three-prong cord into a three-prong outlet.

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The Bottom Line

Using an extension cord to power an electric dryer isn’t the ultimate solution. People usually choose this option when the wall outlet or receptacle is too far away. That’s why experts advise people to install a wall outlet at a suitable point before using a dryer conveniently.

However, if you have decided to use an extension cord temporarily, you must follow the safety measures listed above. Responsible homeowners must ensure the safety of the appliances as well as that of the entire house.