Power Cord Adapters for Generators – A to Z


In Brief: What are Power Cord Adapters?

Power cord adapters for portable generators are the extension cords used to connect the generator’s outlet to the end appliances that are operated a distance for an uninterrupted power supply.

You want to connect the output of your portable generator to the devices which are far from the generator.

You can just plug in the appliance cable to the generator outlet. It seems simple right?

But if your appliance cable uses a different configuration than the generator outlet, you could lose the output power.

Now you need a power cord adapter to make the connection.

In this article, we will let you know about how power cord adapters work and what are their benefits and limitations.

What are Power Cord Adapters for Generators?

Power card adaptors are extension cords used to connect the generator output to your appliances at home.

The extension cards have a plug on one end and one more extension sockets on the other.

You can put in the plug into the generator outlet, and the appliances are plugged into the extension socket outlets.

These power cord adapters come in different lengths, and gauges and not every gauge is suitable to use with portable generators.

One thing to keep in mind is if the cord wire is thicker, it can draw higher current from the outlet as the cord wire gets thicker; its ability to draw more power from the generator increases.

It’s the same case with the length of the cables.

Usually, most portable generator units have a standard 120V outlet.

This the universal standard decided by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in America. It might differ in some other countries.

How Power Cord Adapters Work

The working principle of a power cord adapter is straightforward. Connect the plug end of the cord to the generator outlet or receptacle. Then, plug in the appliances into the cord’s outlet sockets.

This will give you the uninterrupted power flow from the portable generator to your household devices.

The power cord adapters are not universal. They have different contact blade widths, shapes, orientation, and dimensions, and each one fits only to specific devices.

Most NEMA wiring devices have a 15-60 amperes current ratings and 125-600 volts voltage rating.

Also, you always have to check if the adaptor cord is correctly matched with the outlet of the generator; otherwise, it can cause a lot of troubles.

Most portable generators have standard outlets, and Type-5 outlet is very common in the US.

They are often labeled as 5-15R, 5-20R, 5-30R, where the number after hyphen indicates the amps, and R represents the receptacles.

You have to use a power cord adaptor that matches the amps of your device or have a higher rating to supply the power effectively.

Benefits of Power Cord Adapter Kits

Power cord adapter kits offer some critical advantages over transfer switches or power transfer systems.
In this section, we will let you some of the significant benefits of a Power cord adapter.


Power cord adapters are cheaper compared to transfer switches. Their cost usually depends on the model, gauge, and length of the cord.

Easy to install and use

Installing and using power cords is a very simple process, and it doesn’t need any professional support.
Anyone can do it.
On the other hand, the installation of transfer switches requires an experienced or licensed professional.

Readily available

Power cords are readily available in hardware stores, electrical sections as they are one of the most common electrical extensions used at homes.


Power cords are lightly weighted, easily moved from one place to others, and don’t take up a lot of space.

Quick Fix

Power cord adapters offer a quick and reliable solution during power outages, blackouts, and emergencies.

You can easily connect the electrical appliances operating at a distance to your generator outlet without moving them.

Individual devices can be connected to the generator for shorter periods without any loss of power given the right power cord is used.

Less maintenance

There is not much to maintain when it comes to power cord adapters, just check for any cord cuts or dust it off once in a while.

Limitations of Power Cord Adapters

There are some downsides to the power cord adapters when compared to other alternatives.
Here, we will discuss in detail a few key disadvantages of power cord adapters.

Limited connection

One of the significant limitations of cord adapters is they cannot be used to connect electrical devices that are not stand-alone.

Devices like lights that are hardwired into your home system cannot be connected via power cords.

You need to disconnect the devices manually to do that, which is a cumbersome process.

If not correctly disconnected, it could be hazardous. Usually, in this case, transfer switches are much better than power cord adapters.

Shorter operation period

Power cord connections may be a quick solution to temporary power outages, but if you need a power supply for more extended periods, power card adaptors are not efficient.

This is owing to the fact they cannot connect hardwired electrical devices.

Safety issues

Usually, portable generators are placed outside far from home.

Due to this, the power cord adapters need to pass from outside to inside the house where the electrical appliances are situated.

Because of this, cords are vulnerable to the outside environment if it rains or is too hot.

If the cord is wet, it can cause an electric shock. It is highly dangerous to use power cords during heavy storms.

If the cable gets too hot, immediately unplug it or try reducing the load. Aging also damages the functioning of the cord.

Power cords can also cause an electric shock if they have cuts or flattened or frayed. Using a cable of wrong gauge or length can lead to fire or electric shock.

Size dependability

You need a cord of longer lengths if the distance between the generator unit and the household appliances is very far.

Otherwise, you have to move the portable generator unit or the appliance to decrease the length, which would be very challenging.

Further, if you don’t get the appropriate cord adapter for your electrical appliance, it could compromise its efficiency and safety.

The power transferred depends on the cord thickness or length.

You need to get thicker or longer cords for dealing with more power. The lower the gauge, the thicker the wire gets. Smaller gauge cords are usually expensive.

Knowledge about cords

As described above, to get the continuous power supply from your portable generator, you need to choose a power cord of the right size and gauge.

But not everyone is an expert about the generators and has sufficient knowledge regarding the generator power cord specifications.

If you buy just anything from the market without proper knowledge, not only is your money wasted, but wrong cords can cause damage to your generator and electrical appliances.

This is not exactly a limitation, more like a precaution one needs to take.

When to use Power Cord Adapters?

You need to use a power cord adapter when your individual household appliances’ cable configuration is not matched with the portable generator outlet.

You can use power cord adapters if the household appliances are very far from the place where the generator is installed.

If you have multiple devices that need to run on a single generator unit, the outlets of the unit might be insufficient. In this case, you can use power cord adapters.

If you need an emergency back-up to run a couple of individual appliances for a shorter period, power cord adapters are the best option.

If you need a hassle-free and easy installation, power cord adapters are for you as they are effortless to use and install without any professional guidance.

You need to use power cord adapters if you are looking to save some bucks as they are cheaper than their counterparts.

Further, they are readily available in the market or hardware stores as they are commonly used in many places and requires very less or no maintenance.


Power cord adapters are a widespread and economical solution to deal with mismatched generator and end appliance configurations. At the same time, they have some limitations that need to be considered.

Here, we have done our best to explain the working of a power cord adapter along with its pros and cons.

We hope it will help you decide if you need to use a power cord adapter with your portable generator unit.

About Michelle

Michelle has been fascinated with machines and tools since her childhood. She contributes with articles on how things work, repairing, and troubleshooting. She holds an engineering degree and pursuing her passion for travel.