Extension cord for heating water

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lundr, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. lundr

    lundr Hatching

    Jun 15, 2013
    Central Minnesota
    We've already had several days cold enough to freeze the water, and I have just been taking fresh water several times a day. But the winters are long here, so that is not a good solution and I am getting nervous that I haven't figured out another option. I had hoped to find some small solar option, but when my search turned up nothing, I purchased a heater intended for a metal double wall fount at fleet farm. I went to install it, and saw that the instructions explicitly say to not use with an extension cord. Our coop is a ways from the house (haven't actually measured), but could certainly be reached with one 100ft extension cord. Say we attached it to a GFCI outlet and put the extension cord in metal tubing and wrapped seams in electrical tape, what safety issues would I still need to consider? Also to note, this is the only item needing electricity at the coop.
  2. chad-o

    chad-o Chirping

    Nov 4, 2013
    GFI breaker makes you safe. The concern is a voltage drop that can burn it out.
    1 person likes this.
  3. jetdog

    jetdog Songster

    Jun 18, 2013
    It would be better if you could find a long enough cord so it doesn't have any joints along the run to the coop, less chance of water getting in if it rains or when the snow melts, look for a heavy duty commercial grade cord and you should be fine.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Wire gauge is important. The larger the gauge, the less issues. If you were actually running a buried cable or stringing an exterior overhead wire out there, you'd very likely use a 12 gauge wire.

    So, when shopping for a 100' exterior grade extension cord, be sure to get one that is 12 gauge not some flimsy 16 or 18 gauge. These are quite common in the RV industry and used to hook up the RV-Motorhome-5th Wheel to power a long ways away. Those RVs certainly pull my wattage than your little water heater or light is going to pull. These quality, exterior, heavy gauge power cords are the cat's whiskers, but they don't give them away. Prepare to dig deep.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
    2 people like this.
  5. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Crowing

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    It will work and is safe.
    One problem you may experience your breaker will trip frequently at least in my case it did. I only had the raw cord running to the coop I might add.

    Another possibility is your water font it self may burn out prematurely trying to draw current through a fairly long high resistant extension cord.

    Hope you have good luck with it if not there is always "Plan B".

    For along time I used heater tape around a bucket with chicken watering nipples. It worked excellent. However me being me I neglected to change the water as often as I should.

    An advantage to the heater tape is it only demands electricity when the outside temperature approaches freezing.

    Last year I switched to white rubber contains the wife found somewhere. They freeze solid every night but the ice just pops out of them in the morning and I replenish them with fresh warm water. They have black ones at the feed store that are similar but large than mine.

    The chickens congregate around them like people having their morning coffee. The only draw back is my yard is pepper with small ice bergs the size of the buckets.

    April looks after that however..

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  6. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Songster

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    Pretty much agree with the above comments. A 12 guage cord is pricey for that distance but well worth the money. You pretty much have it down with the GFI and bury in pipe. You can use elec. pvc instead of metal conduit if you want to save money. They also have screw connections so that you don't need to bother with taping joints. Your heater is probably overkill and I would be wary to use it since it states: "do not use with an extension cord". May be too much wattage for cords. Why not simply get a heated water dispenser? Tractor Supply has a 2 gallon heated plastic container for 25 bucks. I use 2 of them during the winter months and they are ideal. My coop is over 100 ft. from my GFI and I have heated water dispensers for the chickens heated horse water buckets for the goats. Works great.

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I use a 100' cord. Plugged in GFI exterior outlet and runs on ground to coop to water heater. No issues for 3 years.

    I should say to run as water and food are not in the coop. So that's a heated water fount getting snowed on in the run all winter. No issues.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  8. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Songster

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    You can certainly run cords on the ground temporarily but I would recommend burial for the long term. The reason for enclosing the cord in conduit (pvc or metal) is mainly to keep the darn field mice and moles from chewing the cords.
  9. yogifink

    yogifink Songster

    May 16, 2013
    Pinebluff, nc
    My Coop
    Can you please post a link to the product you purchased?

    A lot of the above statements are inaccurate - please take a minute to consider:

    A lot of heaters require 10g or thinker wire ran to a 20 or 30 amp fuse to operate effectively. If the gage is too small it will try to pull more current than the cord can handle, which will cause the cord to heat and may cause fire. My concern is not the extension cord, but the wire running from the outlet you jack into, to the fuse box in the house/garage. Most outlets now-a-days are wired with 12 gage wire, however, if you have an older home, there is a possibility that the outlet is ran with 14 gage or single ungrounded copper. If thats the case, the heater will try to pull to much current though a too small a wire, which will lead to tripped fuses or the possibility of fire if a fuse fails.

    A GFI outlet will not stop a fire, it only protects a person from electrical shock. Take a look here for further explanation of GFI. - IF THE CORD IS CUT, A GFCI WILL NOT TRIP

    If you use an extension cord, you will want to purchase an inline fuse that is rated at the appropriate current for the smallest gage wire in the system you are using to help protect from fire.

    You also need to consider the amperage at which the fuse will trip in the box. If you allow too much current to flow though the wires, they will heat and catch fire.

    Rodents are attracted to electrical wiring as the wire will put off small increments of heat. Left unprotected, mice will find a warm wire quite appetizing on a cold night. <----This would honestly be my biggest concern, considering you home is up to electrical code.
  10. 432bullet

    432bullet In the Brooder

    Apr 18, 2013
    Anderson, mo
    X2 at least 12 ga wire, no problems. We used a 12 ga bury in ground 12 two with ground type wire and used the tractor bucket to bury it about 12 inch's deep. We ran this approx 100 ft. It should be good for at least 15 amps continuous service. Lowes and Home depot both carry the in ground wire, It has a much harder casing. Happy trails

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by