Buying Heavy-Duty Extension Cord Reels, Part 1: Mechanical & Material Considerations

September 28, 2023

This blog is Part One of our series highlighting questions that should be asked when buying heavy-duty extension cord reels. In this blog, we cover mechanical and material considerations.

Anyone who’s ever worked with heavy-duty extension cord reels understands the convenience they offer. They may be exposed to weather, water, heavy traffic, chemicals, or other conditions that require commercial equipment. Extension cord reels are usually made of rugged materials, with some coated to withstand the conditions they need to handle better. Reels allow workers to pay out and rewind cabling for any commercial applications requiring power away from an electrical outlet. Consisting of a cylinder around which the cabling is wound, they come in an array of configurations for lighter tasks to those that are more heavy-duty. 

When purchasing a heavy-duty extension cord reel, asking specific questions – such as mechanical and material considerations –  is important to ascertain the best one for the application. 

Buying Heavy-Duty Retractable Extension Cord Reels: Mechanical & Material Considerations

1.   What are the different heavy-duty retractable extension cord reel types?

The four main varieties of extension cord reels are drag, lift, stretch, and retrieve reels.

2. What are the differences between the various types of extension cord reels?

The four main types of heavy-duty extension cord reels differ primarily in where and how they are mounted, how the cable will be paid out (extended) and if a ratchet is required to lock the cable in place or if constant tension is needed. All of these factors affects how they can be used.

3. How do the various retractable extension cord reels work?

Drag reels are stationary, with the cabling played out laterally, either on the floor or with the help of supports. 

Typically mounted from the ceiling, lifts are utilized for pendant stations or overhead lighting, allowing the user to play out the cabling to the preferred length. 

Retrieve reels are often mounted on things that move, like railcars, where they’re used to unwind cabling as the object moves away or wrap it up when it draws close. 

Placed in an elevated position, stretch reels can be either stationary or attached to moving equipment; these heavy-duty extension cord reels stretch horizontally like drag reels, though they allow cabling to stretch mechanically with a bit of sag.

4. What are the materials out of which heavy-duty extension cord reels are made?

Extension cord reels are made from materials like aluminum, fiberglass, higher-grade plastic polymers, or various types of steel. Some utilize protective coatings to guard the cabling and reel against harsh conditions.

5. How often will the reel need to pay out and retract?

How often the retractable cord reel needs to pay out and retract depends on the application the reel is being used for. Each time an extension cord reel pays out and retracts, it puts wear on the spring mechanism that handles how much cable is extended. Consider how much this mechanism will be used when choosing heavy-duty extension cord reels. A reel with a more robust mechanism should be considered for applications requiring the cabling to be extended and retracted frequently.  

6. What maximum speed can a heavy-duty extension cord reel handle?  

This will vary depending on the type and manufacturer, but generally, the maximum recommended speed is about 150 feet (45.72 meters) per minute.

Contact the Extension Cord Reel Experts at Alert Reel Manufacturing

Alert Reel Manufacturing is proud to manufacture heavy-duty extension cords that are reliable and durable enough for any commercial environment. With our cutting-edge in-house capabilities, our team can help you find custom solutions for your application and provide high-quality products for commercial customers.

If you have questions regarding our selection of commercial extension cord reels or their requirements, contact the experts at Alert Reel Manufacturing today. 

Stay tuned for Part Two of our series, highlighting questions that should be asked when buying heavy-duty extension cord reels. In the next blog, we cover electrical considerations.