Can You Use an Extension Cord for a Pool Pump?

can you use extension cord

Most above-ground pool pumps are 120V and come with regular three-prong plug cords. Because of the standard plug cords, pool owners might be tempted to supply power to the pump using an extension cord. The temptation might be overwhelming if the pool is far from the power source and the pump cord is short, but can you safely use an extension cord for a pool pump?

You can use an extension cord for a pool pump. Thick extension cords with #12 or #10 gauge wires can deliver the necessary power to the pump. For the pump to work seamlessly, these extension cords must be on a dedicated circuit outlet and be of proper length.

So, let’s talk about how you can use an extension cord for a pool pump. I’ll detail whether you should use an extension cord for a pool pump or not and teach you how to do it. 

Can You Hook an Extension Cord to an Above-Ground Pool Pump?

You can hook an extension cord to an above-ground pool pump. The extension should have #12 or #10 gauge wires to dispatch sufficient power. The cord’s length shouldn’t exceed 100 feet (30.5 m), while the receptacle should be on a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protected circuit.

Electric Requirements for Above Ground Residential Pools

Above pool pumps run smoothly provided they get a certain quantity of electricity. The pump will generally work if an extension cord can supply the required power.

Before using an extension cord, always check the label on the pump and find the amperage and volts it uses. Also, determine whether you’ll connect extra pool accessories like robotic cleaners to the cord. With this information, proceed and pick an ideal extension cord.

How To Pick an Extension Cord for Your Pool Pump

Below is a guide on picking suitable extension cords for above-ground pools.

Choose Extensions With No. 8, 10, and 12 Gauge Wires for Above Ground Pool Pumps

Above ground pool pumps deliver horsepower ranging from 0.5 to 2, with the majority being 1hp pumps.

These pumps need to draw sufficient voltage and amperage to generate enough power. A 1hp 120V updated pool pump should draw about 10-12 amps. Larger pumps will draw more current. As such, wires supplying the electricity to the motor must be thick enough to accommodate the mentioned voltage and amperage.

Bottlenecks arise whenever thinner wires remit electricity. The pump’s motor overcomes this issue by drawing more amperage to quench its power demands. However, heat always accompanies any increase in amps. The thin wire will eventually overheat, failing to deliver electricity.

Unfortunately, standard extension cords are 16/18 AWG, making them too thin to accommodate the electric demands of high output devices like pool pumps. Such extensions may fail or overheat when delivering electricity to pool pumps.

Ideal extension cords for pool pumps should have a #12 wire gauge, #10 wire gauge, or a smaller number wire gauge. A smaller AWG translates to a thicker extension cord, capable of redirecting power to the motor without overheating.

gauge wire

Using a 10AWG heavy-duty extension cord might be mandatory in the following cases:

  • Your pool is large. A pump needs adequate electricity to circulate water in a large swimming pool. 10 AWG or thicker extension cords can handle the increased electric demand.
  • Your pool has a saltwater system. Saltwater pools have high electricity demands and need thick cords to deliver suitable quantities of electricity.
  • The extension cord supports other pool devices. Electrical load always increases when you connect additional devices to an extension cord. You need a 10 AWG or thicker cable to handle the extra load.

A Shorter Extension Cord Will Deliver More Electricity to the Pump

Another aspect that works in sync with the AWG is the length of an extension cord. Generally, a short 10 AWG/ 12 AWG extension cord conveys acceptable electricity amounts to an above-ground pool pump.

All extension cords experience voltage drop, which lessens electric voltage due to resistance. According to Sciencing, power loss is directly proportional to the cable length. Based on this info, longer cords transmit less power than shorter cords of the same AWG.

So, if possible, use the shortest available extension cord on your pool pump. 12 AWG extension cords might be ideal for distances below 50 feet (15.24 m), while thicker 10 AWG cords might suit spaces above 100 feet (30.48 m). Measure the distance from the receptacle to the pump to determine the cord length you need.

Connect the Extension Cord to a Dedicated Circuit Line or GFCI-Protected Outlet

Above-ground pool pumps are power hogs that drain available power from a line. The massive power demand might cause breakers to trip if you connect other appliances to the line.

It’s advisable to plug a pool pump into a receptacle with a dedicated outlet. Such a setup allows you to run an above-ground pool pump without compromising the electricity supply to other sections of your home.

Since the extension cord will run outside, you need to hook it up to a ground fault-protected receptacle. Some extensions come with GFCI protection, safeguarding against shock hazards.

Check Your Local Building and Electric Codes

Local codes provide detailed guidelines on how to install pool wiring. Some regulations require pool pump receptacles to be 6-20 feet (1.8-6.1 m) away from the pool, while others permit a certain distance. Other local codes only allow hard wiring for above-ground pumps.

Consider checking your local electric codes to determine whether it’s legal to hook an extension cord to an above-ground pool where you live.

Does Hooking an Extension Cord to a Pool Pump Void Warranty?

Hooking an extension cord to an above-ground pool pump voids its warranty. Most warranties only cover the manufacturer’s defects and won’t address errors and accidents. Using an extension cord with a pump might compromise the motor, and any damage or hazards will be your fault.

In most cases, you void the pump’s warranty whenever you use an extension cord. Some manufacturers explicitly state that you should never use extension cords for above-ground pool pumps. If that’s the case, you contravene the manufacturer’s warranty terms when using an extension cord.

Always read the manufacturer’s disclaimer before using an extension for a pool pump. If you must use the cord, let it be for temporary use.

Final Thoughts

Using an extension cord for pool pumps is possible, provided the cable has #12/#10/#8 AWG wires. The cord’s length shouldn’t exceed 100 feet (30.48 m) and must be on a direct circuit. Pool pump receptacles must be GFCI protected.

You cannot use extension cords for pool pumps in the following cases:

  • The extension cord voids the pump’s warranty.
  • Using extension cords goes against local electric codes.
  • The extension has a higher gauge rating than 12 (thin extension cords).
  • The extension cord presents a safety or tripping hazard.


Recent Posts