How to Choose the Right Size Heavy-Duty Retractable Cord Reel

September 20, 2023

Commercial extension cords are standard on many factory floors, and used to power cabled equipment away from outlets for manufacturing, charging, or other operational maintenance. Extension cord reels offer a means for making the use and storage of such cabling easier, while many also have built-in circuit breakers to make workplaces safer. Add to this the ability to retract the cord so it’s only the length needed, and this device becomes even more utilitarian. A heavy-duty retractable cord reel helps make any facility involved in production safer and more organized, leading to a work environment that’s also more efficient and productive.

Having a commercial retractable cable reel on hand ensures workers always have access to power when and where they need it. With specific models installed almost anywhere, the cable reel’s compact design simplifies storage for a commercial retractable extension cord. Reels also help prevent tangled cabling that can quickly become a tripping hazard while protecting the cord from damage due to acids, alkalis, extreme temperatures, impact, kinking, and UV radiation from the sun. Determining the best size for a specific application will make your heavy-duty retractable cord reel much more efficient.

Sizing Heavy-Duty Retractable Cord Reels

While worker protection, safe storage, and easy accessibility make commercial retractable extension cord reels particularly useful, it’s essential to source one that’s sized correctly for the purposes for which it will be used. Yet sizing commercial cable reels is more than just measuring their length.

When choosing a commercial retractable extension cord reel, determine the following:

  • The distance an extension cord must extend, with a slightly longer cord length being optimal.
  • The flow of current the cabling needs to handle, with lower gauges capable of powering more electricity-hungry equipment, tools & appliances.
  • Maximum limits for amperage and electrical current can be determined by the AWG rating for any devices the extension cord reel will need to power.  
  • Thickness of wiring within the cable, according to the AWG rating.

Not properly determining a commercial retractable cable reel’s amperage and electrical current capacity can result in short-circuiting equipment or even failure. In addition to the capacity, length, and thickness, a user should also consider the material from which a commercial retractable extension cord reel is made. Often cord reels also include plastic, rubber, or vinyl covers to protect from weather, wear, exposure to commercial chemicals and other environmental factors.  

Cord Reel Gauges

Gauges categorize cabling, with lower ratings indicating a more heavy-duty cable. More robust cords should be used outdoors or places with significant traffic. Generally, 16-gauge or 18-gauge models won’t be helpful in commercial environments as they are rated for lighter-duty applications.. Retractable cord reels should thus utilize 14-gauge or lower-gauge cabling if they’re meant to experience heavy use.

Positioning Commercial Retractable Extension Cord Reels

Before positioning a reel, it’s essential to understand the application for a commercial retractable cable. Reel placement and installation depend on how it will be used so that it will be easy to access. Looking at where and how to mount a heavy-duty retractable extension cord reel involves understanding whether the cabling needs to extend vertically or horizontally. Another reel configuration consideration should also consider whether the cord needs to have constant tension or if it can be locked in place once extended. Some companies can customize commercial retractable extension cord reels to meet specific application requirements.

Applications for which commercial retractable extension cord reels can be used include: 

  • Charging cables for smaller electric vehicles like golf carts.
  • Mounted on commercial crane booms to allow work with power tools at height.
  • Powering portable commercial sawmills.
  • Powering precision medical equipment.
  • Rechargeable electric carts used in retail stores for those with mobility challenges.
  • To power commercial garage doors and lift systems.

The reel type should be considered when positioning a commercial extension cord reel. The four basic categories for commercial retractable extension cord reels are drag, lift, retrieve, and stretch. If in doubt when sourcing a reel, speaking to a technical salesperson or experienced engineer will help determine the best configuration for the application.  

Contact Alert Reel Manufacturing

As a leading distributor of heavy-duty cord reels and other cable and cord management accessories, Alert Reel Manufacturing’s products are sold to commercial facilities throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more about how to size your commercial retractable cable reel for an application, contact the cable reel specialists at Alert Reel for more information.