Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

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Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Offroader » Sep 23 2018 8:15am

I'm planning a 6 month backpacking traveling trip to Asia.

Most times I stay at hostels and it isn't easy to get power directly to my bed at many places to power my electronics.

I am traveling ultra light with a small backpack. I need to make a 25 foot extension cord to always have power to my bed.

I will only use very low amps, just enough to power a laptop and possible two cell phones.

Would it be possible to use this 18 gauge or 20 gauge silicone wire since it is very flexible or will it be dangerous? One of the issues is it may get some people walking over it on occasion, but it shouldn't see too much of that as I assume most people will walk over the wire.

Do you think it is better to use a lamp wire?

What are the risks of using this silicone wire for powering a few battery electronics? What I'm worried about is electric shock from using this silicone wire.

Thanks for any advice or recommendations you can offer.

https://www.amazon.com/BNTECHGO-Flexibl ... merReviews

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by amberwolf » Sep 23 2018 9:59pm

The problem with all the silicone insulations I've handled is they are soft and easily pinched or crushed open, *and* hard to see that sort of damage in it after it happens. So it can have openings in the insulation you don't know about, until you find htem with fingers or liquids.

For durable "lightweight" extensions I prefer old vacuum-cleaner cords; small handheld units have thinner lighter cords but are often still tough enough for this (meant to be walked on or run over with the vacuum brush/wheels without damage).

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Punx0r » Sep 24 2018 2:37am

Am I right in thinking this will be used with a non-fused plug? If so, AFAIK the extension cord needs to be rated to carry at least current rating of the outlet fuse?

If you had a fused plug you could just put a 1A or 2A fuse in it and it would protect a low-current extension cord.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by marty » Sep 24 2018 7:16am

Instead of trying to build a extension cord. Why not buy a extension cord with ends attached?

What electricity do they use in Asia? What do the receptacles look like?

If it smokes. You got a problem.
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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Offroader » Sep 24 2018 5:47pm

Punx0r wrote:
Sep 24 2018 2:37am
Am I right in thinking this will be used with a non-fused plug? If so, AFAIK the extension cord needs to be rated to carry at least current rating of the outlet fuse?

If you had a fused plug you could just put a 1A or 2A fuse in it and it would protect a low-current extension cord.
Yes it should be, but since I know I will only use it for powering my cell phone and notebook there is no reason to use such think wire. For example, nobody is going to be running a microwave from this wire. While you couldn't sell this, I could make it.

I could easily put a fuse in it, but that probably won't protect me from getting shocked and killed right? I heard that you need such low amps for it to kill you that a 1A fuse will be useless. I guess it will help if I shorted the wires together though so I might as well.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Offroader » Sep 24 2018 5:48pm

marty wrote:
Sep 24 2018 7:16am
Instead of trying to build a extension cord. Why not buy a extension cord with ends attached?

What electricity do they use in Asia? What do the receptacles look like?

If it smokes. You got a problem.
The issue is I need this to be as small as light as possible. I'm fitting my life into a small backpack to live maybe 6 months traveling around Asia. If I used a normal 20 amp extension cord that would be heavy and take up a lot of space.

They do use the same plugs as we do here in USA and they are rated at the same 120 volts.

I'm going to look at lamp cord to see how small that is as that may be a better solution if its not too large. I can get 18 gauge lamp cord.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by marty » Sep 24 2018 6:34pm

Did some looking around at cords here:
https://www.grainger.com/
As cords get longer the gauge becomes larger. The reason is smoke. Yea I know you are smart enough not to plug a 1500W hair dryer into a 50' 18G cord. Problem is most people don't have that good of a understanding of electricity and they would plug a 1500W hair dryer into a 50' 18G cord. The result could be fire and death. To avoid this PLEASE do not create a dangerous extension cord.

In my traveling laptop bag I got a cheap brown 2 prong cord that looks like lamp cord. Guessing it is about 10 feet long. Never been to short in all my travels. Here's a $1 cord at the dollar store:
https://www.dollartree.com/bulk/Extensi ... ngth%3a6ft

Here are some 25 foot extension cords. Some light up on the female end.
https://www.grainger.com/category/exten ... k0Z1yz8glp

Go look in the attic, basement, garage or grandmas house and find a cord. Here's a link for that:
https://www.google.com/search?q=attic+b ... 36&bih=733
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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Hillhater » Sep 24 2018 6:39pm

Backpacking around Asia will have far greater risks to life than a little 120v jolt ! :lol:
I have frequently run 240v power lead for 20-30 meters around a garden (in winter for Xmas decorations) using just old lightweight speaker cable ! (The really thin stuff) with twisted connections etc etc :shock:
Totally un advisable , probably illegal, ..but it worked.!
Believe me, once you have seen electrical wireing in a third world country,..you wont worry about the guage of your wire.
In Asia, You are more likely to get stomped on by an elephant, than die from electricution from a DIY extension cord .
Go for it,.... live life on the edge.
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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Offroader » Sep 24 2018 7:16pm

Hillhater wrote:
Sep 24 2018 6:39pm
Backpacking around Asia will have far greater risks to life than a little 120v jolt ! :lol:
I have frequently run 240v power lead for 20-30 meters around a garden (in winter for Xmas decorations) using just old lightweight speaker cable ! (The really thin stuff) with twisted connections etc etc :shock:
Totally un advisable , probably illegal, ..but it worked.!
Believe me, once you have seen electrical wireing in a third world country,..you wont worry about the guage of your wire.
In Asia, You are more likely to get stomped on by an elephant, than die from electricution from a DIY extension cord .
Go for it,.... live life on the edge.
What gave me the idea about using a really thin extension cord is when I was in Vietnam I walked into this shop "not your typical store these were stores like you would find in china town" and asked if they had extension cords.

They gave me this 6 outlet apapter but it had a really long extension cord. I couldn't believe how thin this extension cord was, you would never find something so thin here in USA, especially for having 6 outlet receptacles attached to it. It worked well but I left it there and that is when I wanted to find something similar here.

The problem is they would never sell that here in USA, something having such thin wire. That is why I need to create my own.

Any extension cord you buy is very thick, and would be too large in a 20-25 foot length which is what I would like to have to get power to my bed.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Offroader » Sep 24 2018 7:36pm

amberwolf wrote:
Sep 23 2018 9:59pm
The problem with all the silicone insulations I've handled is they are soft and easily pinched or crushed open, *and* hard to see that sort of damage in it after it happens. So it can have openings in the insulation you don't know about, until you find htem with fingers or liquids.

For durable "lightweight" extensions I prefer old vacuum-cleaner cords; small handheld units have thinner lighter cords but are often still tough enough for this (meant to be walked on or run over with the vacuum brush/wheels without damage).
I agree with the silicone wire. What I notice is that if it gets a slice it will easily peel or continue to rip open easily.

I think I am going to get this 20 AWG PVC coating wire. A few reviews said it has pretty thick PVC insulation. With something so thin I can get a real long length, like 40 feet and easily keep it at the very edges of the room where nobody walks. This will be much better than a thicker but shorter wire where I have to route it through the center of the room.

https://www.amazon.com/EvZ-Extension-St ... op?ie=UTF8

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Punx0r » Sep 25 2018 6:31am

Offroader wrote:
Sep 24 2018 5:47pm

Yes it should be, but since I know I will only use it for powering my cell phone and notebook there is no reason to use such think wire. For example, nobody is going to be running a microwave from this wire. While you couldn't sell this, I could make it.
Yeah, it's just so that if there is a fault (cable damaged or shorted, or your laptop supply internally shorts etc) the fuse blows before the cable burns up. As it's in Asia and you're likely not leaving the cable in use unattended I doubt you'd have any issues, but I would pick PVC insulation over silicone as it's more rugged and you don't need a high temp rating (the only reason besides flexibility to pick silicone). In many Asian countries there'd be no plug, just bare wires poked into the outlet and jammed in place with matchsticks, so go nuts :D

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by dustNbone » Sep 25 2018 5:53pm

Power varies a great deal through Asia. Some will be 230V. Matter of fact the only one off the top of my head that's 115V is Japan. Don't count on working ground connections.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_ele ... y#Voltages

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Alan B » Sep 25 2018 7:59pm

Use something that is normal for the area, rated for the purpose.

Don't fabricate something yourself.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Hillhater » Sep 25 2018 8:39pm

Alan B wrote:
Sep 25 2018 7:59pm
Use something that is normal for the area, rated for the purpose.
In Asia, that will vary enormously...sometimes dangerously.
I was used to the UK where every socket, every plug head, power board, etc was earthed, had individual fuses and/or circuit breakers and often earth leakage protection incorporated.
But even here in highly regulated australia with the same 240 v system, a fuse is a rare thing other than in distribution panels, and 2wire, unearthed, unfused , portable devices are common.
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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Alan B » Sep 25 2018 8:49pm

Hillhater wrote:
Sep 25 2018 8:39pm
Alan B wrote:
Sep 25 2018 7:59pm
Use something that is normal for the area, rated for the purpose.
In Asia, that will vary enormously...sometimes dangerously.
I was used to the UK where every socket, every plug head, power board, etc was earthed, had individual fuses and/or circuit breakers and often earth leakage protection incorporated.
But even here in highly regulated australia with the same 240 v system, a fuse is a rare thing other than in distribution panels, and 2wire, unearthed, unfused , portable devices are common.
So you would recommend using a homemade cordset?

I would instead purchase something that is good quality in the area that you are using it. Double insulation is widely used instead of grounded items. Often local products are quite clever and adhere to the local regulations. If a homemade cable causes a fire or shock then the builder could be held responsible. Some things just aren't worth it. If something electrical becomes unsafe due to damage or wear then replace it. At these low power levels fuses aren't very helpful and certainly won't protect against shock. Using quality gear in good shape should take care of it without resorting to extreme re-engineering.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by dustNbone » Sep 25 2018 9:36pm

The reason the UK uses fused receptacles is because they (at least did) use long "ring" circuits in which the total circuit is rated higher than the individual receptacles/what's plugged into them are.

This was originally to lower the amount of copper used in reconstructing blowed up houses (and new ones) after WW2 when copper was in very short supply.

So the ring circuit will often be 32A and cover multiple rooms, protected by an appropriate fuse/breaker at the panel, and the receptacles are fused at 13A to protect themselves and the appliance connected to them.

Where as in North America (and other places?) we run a 15A circuit from the panel to 15A rated receptacles and protect the whole thing from the panel.

I guess the UK system isn't AS safe because a dead receptacle doesn't necessarily mean a dead circuit like it does here.

EDIT: Actually, they fuse the PLUG end of the appliance not the receptacle, so a dead receptacle does mean a dead circuit. However it means that the appliance cord can be thinner as long as it has the appropriate fuse installed to protect itself

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by markz » Sep 25 2018 10:31pm

Totally depends on the ampere's that the wire will be handling.
The thinner the wire the more resistance there is.
The longer the wire the more resistance there is.
Flip side, thicker wire and shorter wire is less resistance.

Wire takes too much ampere's then it will start burning the insulation off and the wires may touch and break a circuit breaker at best.

If you know what your plugged in device will draw, you can use whatever wire guage that is sufficient.

Buy an 18awg extension cord to the length you require.
https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Stand ... nsion+cord

Two styles of cord, round cord and flat cord. I doubt either would take up much more space then the other. The flat would be easier to roll up nicely.

If that is too much of a hassle, then just have it hang off the backpack. You wont save any weight or much space by a making a DIY cord.

https://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm
marty wrote:
Sep 24 2018 6:34pm
As cords get longer the gauge becomes larger.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by markz » Sep 25 2018 10:57pm

Hey, I just thought of something. When I was in Budapest I saw a gang of thieves working the stairs. They would open the bags without the victim knowing, as they were walking up or down the stairs. So hanging an extension cord from your backpack would be an anti-theft device, or even stringing it through the zippers if possible, especially with your 20awg idea or thinner. But if you are going to do it just buy regular plugs from the hardware store.

Thinne$t exten$ion cord in the world. https://www.amazon.com/Koumeican-thinne ... nsion+cord

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Hillhater » Sep 25 2018 11:20pm

dustNbone wrote:
Sep 25 2018 9:36pm

EDIT: Actually, they fuse the PLUG end of the appliance not the receptacle, so a dead receptacle does mean a dead circuit. However it means that the appliance cord can be thinner as long as it has the appropriate fuse installed to protect itself
Im sure there are variations of many types, but my house definitely had 13A fused recepticals/wall outlets as well as fused plugs. The outlets were normally fused 13A for each plug socket (dual sockets) , whilst the intention was to have the plugs fused to suit the appliance draw.
.....but most folk simply used spare 13A fuses for everything !!
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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Alan B » Sep 26 2018 2:17am

In the US many 15 amp outlets are common on a single 20A circuit.

There are many, many factors involved in the design of electrical systems, we could not cover them here.

Obtain safe equipment that is rated for the purpose. Don't mess around.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by Gregory » Sep 26 2018 5:00am

If you NEED a laptop have you considered extending the DC cable side of your laptop charger brick? And charge the phone from the laptop.


For Nepal I made a light socket to phone charger unit (screw in USB charger) as they rarely had wall sockets in the mountains. Only worked 50% of the time.


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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by markz » Sep 26 2018 12:35pm

You can buy 3 conductor wires in most gauges. Even home depot will have 20 or 22awg single gauge.

Cord Plugs - https://www.homedepot.com/s/cord%2520plug?NCNI-5

If I was traveling, I would buy speaker wire which could be an option. Split a length for the 3rd conductor.
https://www.amazon.com/RCA-AH100R-24-Ga ... eaker+wire

Extension Cord Cable 20AWG 3 Conductor UL1007
https://www.amazon.com/Electrical-Exten ... ire+20%2F3

LED Strip Extension Cable Wire Cord Line for RGB 5050 3528 Cord, UL1007, 22 AWG, 4 Color
Take off the 4th conductor.
https://www.amazon.com/YOUKOYI-65-6ft-S ... ire+20%2F3

3-Wire 18 Gauge Electric Cord
https://www.amazon.com/Covered-Electric ... ire+20%2F3


120V AC Fuse for whatever guage you are using.
http://www.littelfuse.com

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by marty » Sep 26 2018 7:02pm

markz wrote:
Sep 26 2018 12:35pm
You can buy 3 conductor wires in most gauges. Even home depot will have 20 or 22awg single gauge.

Cord Plugs - https://www.homedepot.com/s/cord%2520plug?NCNI-5

If I was traveling, I would buy speaker wire which could be an option. Split a length for the 3rd conductor.
https://www.amazon.com/RCA-AH100R-24-Ga ... eaker+wire

Extension Cord Cable 20AWG 3 Conductor UL1007
https://www.amazon.com/Electrical-Exten ... ire+20%2F3

LED Strip Extension Cable Wire Cord Line for RGB 5050 3528 Cord, UL1007, 22 AWG, 4 Color
Take off the 4th conductor.
https://www.amazon.com/YOUKOYI-65-6ft-S ... ire+20%2F3

3-Wire 18 Gauge Electric Cord
https://www.amazon.com/Covered-Electric ... ire+20%2F3


120V AC Fuse for whatever guage you are using.
http://www.littelfuse.com
STOP please. Building a extension cord is STUPID. Stupid from a safety point of view. Stupid from a economic point of view. Stupid from a common sense point of view. I challenge all of you stupid extension cord builders to build a better safer cheaper cord then this one.
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Alan B wrote:
Sep 25 2018 7:59pm
Use something that is normal for the area, rated for the purpose.

Don't fabricate something yourself.
Good advise. When you get where ya going. Pull some $ out of that backpack and buy a cord that fits the receptacles in the country you are in. Better idea? Forget about electricity, phones, computers, and check out the birds, flowers, girls, food, and everything there is to see in Asia. Offroader are you a boy? Who knows...... ya might meet a nice Asia girl and reproduce :)

Seriously anyone being unsafe with electricity should not be playing with 120VAC, 240VAC, or 5VDC. Do they have fire fighters in Asia? Worst case scenario. Electrical fire burns down the whole village.
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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by markz » Sep 26 2018 8:26pm

Home Depot does sell male plugs and female plugs to wire your extension cords.
The small writing on those packages state using correct cables with proper insulation on them.

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Re: Can I use 18ga silicone wire as an 120volt AC extension cord?

Post by dustNbone » Sep 27 2018 7:07am

Just for anyone unclear, Asia is a continent comprised of 55 distinct countries ranging from among the richest to the very poorest.

Even within individual countries you will encounter a range of socio-economic and technological conditions that will make most white heads spin rapidly, if they're paying attention that is.

You will also encounter a wide array of electrical receptacles, sometimes not even those. I came across alligator clips on bare conductors strung across the ceiling more than once.

Most of the people I came across were also quite familiar with fire.

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