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Old 08-09-2007, 08:53 PM   #225
KTM640Dakar OP
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Joined: Nov 2004
Location: Oxbow Lake
Oddometer: 2,122
Originally Posted by JDLuke
Hey, KTM640Dakar, thanks for doing this. I do a (little) bit of hobby welding on my 3200HD, and it's good to have more information available.

My question goes kind of goes back to some of the earlier posts in this thread, regarding extension cords and the like. I guess my basic question is: If I were to take heavy AC BX-protected wire, and build an 'extension cord' out of it, where would the drawbacks be for powering my welder?

I ask this because as it stands right now, I have a circuit breaker in my basement, tied to the mains. About 45 or 50 feet from this, at the end of another heavy gauge cable is a subpanel in my garage, with the 20 amp circuit breaker for the welder. However, it would, so far as I know, have been quite possible to make it a direct 50 foot run from the main panel to the outlet, right?

So how much harm would there be in having 30 or 40 feet of, say, 12 gauge solid-core wire in between one outlet and an extension outlet?

The REAL reason I want to know is that I have a swing set with steel tube legs in the backyard, maybe 40 feet from my garage. Due to an unfortunate landscaping incident, one of the legs has a big chunk of metal missing, and I'd like to weld a sleeve over it... I've been extremely reluctant to even try using an extension cord, but I can't help thinking about the fact that there are many hundreds of yards of copper wire between my outlet and the actual power source already.
What I really would avoid is the typical extention cord that is made out of small strand copper wire that is too light. A good extention cord would be the same copper conductor that you would use to wire a house that utillizes solid copper as a conductor.

The real reason that an extension cord is a problem is that most homes use 15 or 20 ampere circuit breakers and when you turn a welder to it's maximum output the current draw required for the welder to give you max output may exceed your circuit and trip the breaker. Adding an extension cord to a welder that is undersized will trip the breaker sooner due to the extra resistance of the extension cord.

Of course you can still try it and the worst thing that will happen is your circuit breaker will keep tripping off and cut the power.

I do have an extension cord for my 230V MIG welder. It is made out of heavy copper wire that is heavier than my in house wiring. At 230V a 30 Amp breaker is perfect for my welder and I have never blown the circuit. The extention is about 30 feet long. The longer the cord the bigger the conductor needs to be.
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