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Old 08-07-2018, 01:56 PM   #1
Curious.George
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Default Storing extension cords (suggestion)

I probably have more extension cords than most folks. And, heavier (AWG) ones!

They are always a hassle to store as they don't have nice convenient shapes, don't fit well in boxes (e.g., 100' of 12/3), etc. Yet, you want them to be readily accessible -- as any other "tool".

In the past, I'd just coil them and wrap a velcro "tie" around them (the blue item in the photos below -- a few hundred rescued from some medical supplies). But, while that kept them from unspooling, you're still stuck with a big pile of wire to store!

Here's a short (~15 ft) cord with my newest "storage technique"... I then hang them from a perforated length of angle on the garage ceiling. So, I can see my entire "inventory" and access them just by lifting them off their mounts.

I'd originally planned on just fastening a steel ring to the far end of the strap and threading the hook end through the ring (after wrapping around the extension cord). The weight of the cord would pull the strap tight.

But, then "tick bundles" would tend to hang higher than "thin bundles". With the current approach, they all hang at the same height.
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File Type: jpg DSCF5131.jpg (362.3 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg DSCF5132.jpg (274.9 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg DSCF5133.jpg (401.4 KB, 15 views)

Last edited by Curious.George; 08-07-2018 at 01:59 PM..
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Old 08-07-2018, 04:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

I do not know any real good way wrap up extension cords with them getting tangled up
Which is a real pain in the rump

If you happen find good way to keep this from happening please post it
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Old 08-07-2018, 04:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

i come to the conclusion if you put away tidy they come out tangled ..now i throw them in the case tangled and they come out no problem ..
otherwise i hang on a string in the workshop . easy to pick the one you need .
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Old 08-07-2018, 05:44 PM   #4
Curious.George
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

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Originally Posted by sam_sam_sam View Post
I do not know any real good way wrap up extension cords with them getting tangled up Which is a real pain in the rump

If you happen find good way to keep this from happening please post it
If you methodically coil the cord -- half a twist with each loop you accumulate -- and DON'T VASILATE FROM ONE SIDE OF THE COIL TO THE OTHER (hence the half twist), the cord will play out just as methodically when you try to uncoil it in the exact same (reverse) manner.

Where you shoot yourself in the foot is when you lay coils on one side, then the other (because you've not imposed the half-twist!) -- uncoiling would have to follow the exact same pattern. It won't.

Or, if you "drop" the coil and just try to tug on an end and hope it plays out neatly for you (it won't).

Of course, when the cables are 1/2" thick (or better!), they demand a more disciplined coiling approach; you can't just coil them up carelessly (they impose their own physics). Much different story with flimsier things like CAT5 cable that will let you embedded extra twists to your heart's content (which result in tangles, later)
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Old 08-07-2018, 05:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

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Originally Posted by petehall347 View Post
i come to the conclusion if you put away tidy they come out tangled ..now i throw them in the case tangled and they come out no problem ..
otherwise i hang on a string in the workshop . easy to pick the one you need .
We treat XMAS lights that way -- one string per "shoebox". But, they are much flimsier and hard to get to "lay" in a stable coil.

Take a coil of 12/3 (or even 14/3) ROMEX and you'll have no problem coiling/uncoiling it without a snag. Try the same thing with a length of zip cord and it will be snagged before you get a few loops off! (too flimsy)
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

i know how to wrap cables properly but i have my own way that works .. its from hand to elbow .. then twist the way its wanting to go into a figure eight . then tape it or just throw into the case . thicker cables respond better to this method .
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:32 PM   #7
Curious.George
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

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i know how to wrap cables properly but i have my own way that works .. its from hand to elbow .. then twist the way its wanting to go into a figure eight . then tape it or just throw into the case . thicker cables respond better to this method .
That builds the "wrong" twist into the cable and leaves it more susceptible to tangling when you try to despool it. If I tried to do that with my 100' 12/3's they'd end up looking like crullers! Trying to unwind them would leave me with a kinked cable.

If you wind a cable onto a "cable reel" (https://www.magnetekmh.com/Products/.../Cable%20Reels) by rotating the reel and letting it gather the cable, there is no twist in the cable. It will later play out without problems -- just by "unwinding" the reel.

By coiling with the "half twist", you are doing exactly the same thing -- without the rotary "reel winding" effort.

But, when you uncoil it, you want to mimic "unspooling" as that cable reel would have done. If you simply peel off loops from one side or the other, you are effectively putting that half twist INTO the unspooled cable, making it even harder to wind back up (unless you happen to wind it in exactly the complementary manner -- unlikely).

If you carefully examine the markings on the cable (treat them as a "stripe" running the length of the cable), you can readily see the twists that each type of winding/unwinding introduces.

For the extensions that I have that are NOT part of a cable reel, I use a "sled" to let the coiled cable rest in my half-opened palm so it can "roll" over my hand as if my hand was an axle in a cable reel. No twists involved as it plays out along the ground just like it would have on a real cable reel!

[One of my design projects involved deploying 1000' wire runs -- to remote sensors -- and gathering up said cables at the end of the day to move to another site. You really can't afford to waste time unsnarling 1000' lengths of cable if you can systematically ensure they won't get snarled in the first place!]
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

Put them on spools. Fast and easy and never tangle.
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:58 PM   #9
Curious.George
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

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Originally Posted by brethin View Post
Put them on spools. Fast and easy and never tangle.
Spools take up a fair bit of extra space, are "rigid" (so the space they demand has to be of a certain size AND shape -- invariably larger than that required for the coil of wire, itself), have to "sit" on a surface and add overall weight.

We used cable reels ("fancy spools") for the 1000 ft lengths. Until we noticed how tedious it was to lug them around in the field. A "well coiled" cord can be stuffed into a duffle bag and tossed in an aircraft hold or in the back of a Jeep and "peacefully coexist" with the other 3-7 such cords.

Cable reels had to be packed in rigid shipping containers which then had to be stacked (try driving on some dirt/mountain road with such a stack of cords).

The same holds true if you want to store them in your garage (esp if you have shorter lengths where the reel/spool represents even more "overhead").

Coil them AS IF they were on a spool and you get the benefits of tangle-free storage/deployment without the rigidity, size, weight etc. of a spool/reel.

[No way I'm going to hang any of my Hannay reels from the ceiling and risk 50 pounds of wire and reel coming down on a vehicle or person!]

As I said in my initial post: "I probably have more extension cords than most folks. And, heavier (AWG) ones!" (E.g., I can drive my electric dumptruck up and down the block powered from an outlet in my yard: "Look, Ma... no batteries!")
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Old 08-10-2018, 01:48 PM   #10
Curious.George
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

By way of illustration, three examples of 100 ft of cord. From left to right:
  • 12/3 on a cable reel
  • 16/3 on a spool
  • 14/3 "air wound"

Note that the spool requires the "inner end" of the cord to be left dangling (pigtail) if you want to be able to use the cord while any part of it is still wound on the spool. In addition to the "donut hole" representing unused space (volume), you also lose the space required araound the edge of the spool (if the cord doesn't fill it completely).

Both ends of the cord are accessible, at all times, in the air wound approach. And, only the donut hole is lost space (if you make larger coils, you can flatten the coil into a lozenge shape and eliminate the void in the center).

The cable reel is mechanically and electrically part of the cord so it's a constant overhead regardless of how much of the cord you play out. There is a LOT of "wasted" space (and weight), there!

Second pic shows three of the "household duty" cords hanging in storage.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curious.George View Post
We treat XMAS lights that way -- one string per "shoebox". But, they are much flimsier and hard to get to "lay" in a stable coil.

Take a coil of 12/3 (or even 14/3) ROMEX and you'll have no problem coiling/uncoiling it without a snag. Try the same thing with a length of zip cord and it will be snagged before you get a few loops off! (too flimsy)
I have had extreme front yard displays and the best way I have found for XMAS lights is to roll them up like a ball of yarn and place each ball in a plastic grocery bag. This gives you an easy way to label them and also transport them around and drop them into storage containers. The next year just grab the bags by the handles and lift them out.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:28 PM   #12
Curious.George
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

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I have had extreme front yard displays and the best way I have found for XMAS lights is to roll them up like a ball of yarn and place each ball in a plastic grocery bag. This gives you an easy way to label them and also transport them around and drop them into storage containers. The next year just grab the bags by the handles and lift them out.
Our neighbors do that for their light strings/ropes. But, they use the tiny lamps that probably only draw 20W per string. They can be easily "balled up" and tossed in a container with the other strings -- sort them out "next year" when you can afford to dump them all on the ground and pick which you want/need.

We use the strings with the larger lamps (i.e., 7W incandescent or ~200W strings). They don't easily compress into "balls" owing to the size/shape of the bulbs and the heavier wire gauge used in their interconnect. They're also a bit more fragile than the little bulbs. The small size of the shoebox (vs. a "storage container" intended to hold MANY such strings) lets us find small spaces to store them -- instead of having to find a single (or multiple!), large volume.

[Neighbors have storage sheds for these sorts of things -- one neighbor has a 12x12 shed JUST for XMAS decorations! I refuse to give in to "junk accretion" to the extent that the house itself is inadequate storage for it all! ]
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:08 PM   #13
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

Spools are the easiest and cheapest, for normal people that is.
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:13 PM   #14
Curious.George
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

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Spools are the easiest and cheapest, for normal people that is.
"Normal" people don't have (multiple) hundred foot 10/3 and 12/3 "extension cords". "Normal" people have dinky little 16/2 cords that they can wrap in a little ball and store in a kitchen drawer.

And, storing strings of C9 lights on spools is, at best, 50% "space efficient" when contrasted to "stuffing them in a box". (I'd imagine storing the smaller lamps would be even less efficient -- even if you found "tiny spools" to use.)

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Old 09-06-2018, 08:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

Sorry. My management of cords consists of wrapping them up on themselves and storing in a crate. Anything from my 9/3+earth cables to my coax.
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:28 PM   #16
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Sorry. My management of cords consists of wrapping them up on themselves and storing in a crate. Anything from my 9/3+earth cables to my coax.
Obviously, you don't consider yourself "normal" (else you would have used a spool, right?) :>
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:30 PM   #17
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Default Re: Storing extension cords (suggestion)

^ spool? Well, i got one that could fit it all. But its in use as a table right now....
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:37 PM   #18
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^ spool? Well, i got one that could fit it all. But its in use as a table right now....
Exactly. Spools take up more space than the wire/cable would, itself. And, have fixed/inflexible shapes/sizes.

Fine if you have a few smallish (length or wire gauge) cords but effectively useless if you have many -- or any "of substance". Or, don't want to set aside a big bunch of space just to store "spooled wire".

(The only thing I keep on spools is mule tape or telco "quad")
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