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How to Roll Up Extension Cord?

Even though most of the products and gadgets we use are wireless, we are not totally free from cords yet. In fact, it is close to impossible to power a heavy-duty appliance without a power cord. Even though battery-powered alternatives are available for most appliances such as vacuum cleaners, speakers, and even power tools such as drill machines and metal cutters, these options are simply not as powerful as corded appliances. On top of that, there is the added limitation of reliability as battery-powered options offer a limited performance whereas corded appliances can be used whenever you want. Therefore, corded electrical appliances are preferred for the majority of applications to date.

However, there is one particular problem with corded electrical appliances which is related to the attached power cord. Usually, the power cord that comes with these appliances is usually a few meters shorter than what you would require, especially for outdoor appliances used for cleaning and maintaining backyards. For that, you will have to use a power extension cord. Even though these cords are extremely helpful and allow you to use your appliances wherever you want, it is equally important to take proper care of them once you finish using them.

To help you with that, we have prepared this special guide for maintenance and tips for extension cords. In this guide, we will go over different ways to roll up an extension cord and also discuss the importance of doing so along with its benefits. So make sure you read our guide until the end so that you won’t miss out on any important information.

Different Types of Rolling Extension Cords

Extension cords are quite common in households, and even more so in workshops where these cords power various different instruments. But, taking proper care of extension cords is one of the few things that you should carefully consider. If a long power cable is all tangled up, or if it is not rolled properly, it can cause permanent damage to the extension device, or even cause a fire hazard because of loose contact. But, you can avoid these problems by simply rolling up the extension cords. If you are not sure how you can optimally roll up your extension cord, worry not. Here are some of the best methods of rolling up an extension cord quickly and safely.

1. Braid Wrap

The braid wrap is a rather uncommon method that involves creating a series of loops that interlock with each other, forming a chain-like pattern. As you can imagine, this is a slightly time-consuming method as it requires you to follow some critical steps. Therefore, this method is usually preferred by professionals. However, there are a few benefits such as it does not require any extra tools. Plus, it allows you to use only the length of cord you need while keeping the rest of the cable wrapped up, preventing unnecessary twists and kinks in the cord. But, keep in mind that it can be a bit tricky to learn and it usually takes longer than other methods.

Here are the steps to do a braid wrap on an extension cord:

  • Plug the male end of the cord into the female end which essentially cuts the total length of the cord in half.
  • Make a loose loop at the opposite end with an overhand knot.
  • Then, hold the loop in one hand and grab the cord below the knot with the other hand.
  • Twist the cord in 180 degrees and pull it through the loop. This should form a new loop for the cord.
  • Repeat the twisting and pulling process until you reach the end of the cord.
  • Now, secure the last loop with the plug or a strap to prevent the cord from getting unrolled by itself.
  • Once you are finished with the process, you can easily hang the cord from any hook in a dry place.

2. Elbow Wrap

The elbow wrap is relatively the simplest and fastest method of rolling extension cords. It just involves coiling the cord around your elbow and hand to form a neat bundle. This method is very convenient for short cords that are used frequently. But, it can also cause damage to the cords over time if the cable is wrapped too tightly. If too much force is used while coiling, it creates tight bends and twists that can weaken the wires. It can also create extra tangles and knots when you unroll the cord if not done correctly.

Here are the steps to do an elbow wrap:

  • Hold one end of the cord in your hand and make a loop over your thumb, pointing away from you.
  • Make another loop under your thumb, pointing towards you, and cross it over the first loop, forming a shape resembling the digit ‘8’.
  • Repeat the over and under looping process until you reach the end of the cord.
  • Secure the coil with a strap or a tie.

3. Over/Under Wrap

The over/under wrap simply alternates the direction of the loops, as the name suggests,  creating a flatter-wrapped coil. This method is ideal for long and heavy cords that are difficult to roll up otherwise. It significantly reduces stress on the cord and prevents tangles and kinks. It can also make the cord easier to unroll and use whenever you need it. Also, it is very easy to master and just after a little bit of practice, you will be able to roll up the cord with ease. Here are the steps to do an over/under wrap:

  • Hold one end of the cord in your hand and place your elbow against your side.
  • Wrap the cord around your elbow and hand. Make sure that the cord is not twisted in the process.
  • Continue wrapping until you reach the end of the cord.
  • Just before you reach the end, wrap the cord around the bundle to pack it.
  • You can also Secure the bundle with a separate strap or a strong cable tie to keep it wrapped up safely.

4. Contractor’s Wrap

The contractor’s wrap is a method that combines the braid wrap and the over/under wrap together, creating a compact and flexible coil. This method is suitable for medium to long cords that need to be transported or stored in tight spaces. It can also prevent twists and kinks in the cord and allow you to use partial lengths while keeping the rest of the cord neat and tidy. However, it is also one of the methods that can be complicated to learn and it may take more time than other methods. Here are the steps to do a contractor’s wrap:

  • Plug the male end of the cord into the female end, cutting the length in half similar to a Braid wrap.
  • Make a loop at the opposite end with an overhand knot.
  • Hold the loop in one hand and grab the cord below the knot with the other hand.
  • Twist the cord 180 degrees and pull it through the loop, forming a new loop.
  • Twist the new loop in 180 degrees and pull the cord through it, forming another loop.
  • Repeat the twisting and looping process until you reach the end of the cord.
  • Secure the last loop with the plug or a strap.

Tips For Correctly Rolling Up an Extension Cord

  • Whether using the Elbow Wrap or Contractor’s Wrap, be mindful not to over-tighten the cord. Over-tightening can lead to kinks and damage over time.
  • Periodically inspect the cord for any signs of wear or damage, especially at the points where it is wrapped and secured.
  • Store the coiled extension cord in a dry place to prevent damage to the insulation and reduce the risk of electrical issues.

Why Is It Important To Keep The Extension Cords Rolled Up?

Improperly rolling extension cords can pose several problems, ranging from safety hazards to potential damage to the cords, or even the connected electrical appliances. Here are some reasons that make it important to take proper care of your extension cords and keep it rolled up when not in use.

1. Tripping Hazard

If extension cords are not rolled properly, they create tripping hazards. Loose loops or tangled cords can easily catch someone’s foot which can lead to accidents. This is particularly dangerous in workshops when the cord is usually laid on the ground.

2. Overheating

Extension cords are designed to handle a specific amount of electrical load. But, if they are rolled tightly, it can lead to increased resistance in the cord. Higher resistance also means more heat is generated during the flow of electrical current, potentially leading to overheating of the cable. Overheating not only poses a fire hazard but can also damage the insulation of the cord which makes it more prone to electrical shocks.

3. Electrical Fires

The increased resistance and overheating mentioned above can escalate to the point where the insulation on the wires melts and exposes the conductors inside. Exposed wires further increase the risk of short circuits which can even lead to electrical fires. This is a significant concern, especially when extension cords are used in close proximity to flammable materials. Also, such instances are very common regarding cables that conduct high current such as extension cables powering a welding rig.

4. Reduced Cord Lifespan

Extension cords are made with a certain level of flexibility which allows them to be coiled and uncoiled without sustaining damage. However, tightly winding the cord leads to internal damage once the bends are sharper than the design limit. Over time, these stresses weaken the internal conductors and the outer insulation which reduces the overall lifespan of the cord.

How To Roll Up The Extension Cords Using A Cord Reel?

A cord reel is a special device designed to hold and dispense extension cords. Unlike manually rolling up the cord, a cord reel makes the job a lot easier to manage and store the cord. There are many different types of cord reels available out there such as manual, automatic, or even motor-driven for faster performance. So, you can go with the option which suits your needs the most depending on the type and length of the cord you are using.

Here are some of the benefits of using a cord reel:

  • A cord reel prevents damage to the cords by completely avoiding twists and nicks in the insulation.
  • It extends the cord’s life by reducing the stress on the cord and protecting it from wear and tear. It is possible because the cord is simply rolled in a loop without much stress.
  • Using a cord reel is much faster and allows you to quickly and efficiently extend or retract the cord as needed.
  • It enhances safety by eliminating tripping hazards and potential fire risks caused by cluttered cords.

If you are planning to use a cord reel to roll up the extension cords, here’s how you can do it:

  • Unplug the cord from the power source and inspect it for any visible damage.
  • Straighten the cord by running it through your hands from one end to the other.
  • Insert one end of the cord into the cord reel and wind it up using the handle or crank.
  • Make sure the cord is not twisted as you wind it into the cord reel.
  • Once fully rolled up, you can store the cord reel itself without worrying about any damage to the cable

Roll Up Extension Cord – FAQs

1. Does tightly rolling an extension cord damage it?

Ans: Yes, tightly rolling an extension cord can certainly damage the plastic coating on the outside, as well as the conducting cable running inside. Doing so causes the cord to twist internally, leading to permanent wire damage as well as insulation wear over time. So, it’s better to coil the extension cord loosely to prevent strain on the wires.

2. How long should you leave an extension cord rolled up without damaging it?

Ans: It would be difficult to precisely tell how long you can keep an extension cord rolled up since each cord is built with a different strength and resistance to twists and bends. But it’s a good practice to avoid leaving extension cords rolled up for extended periods. If a cord is stored rolled up for too long, it develops twists automatically which could compromise its integrity. So, you should frequently uncoil and inspect the cord to ensure it remains in good condition.

3. How to prevent tangling when using extension cords outdoors?

Ans: To prevent tangling outdoors, you can use techniques such as the over-under method for coiling the cord. You can find details about the method as well as step-by-step instructions to perform this rolling method in our guide. Basically, this involves alternating the direction of each loop to minimize twists. Additionally, you can use cord organizers or reels designed for extension cords to keep them neatly stored and untangled.

4. Do coiling extension cords affect its conductivity?

Ans: Properly coiling an extension cord does not significantly affect its conductivity. However, if the cord is tightly coiled in a way that causes twists, it may lead to damaged conductors in the long run, which will in turn affect the conductivity of the cord. So, it’s essential to coil the cord loosely to maintain optimal conductivity.

5. Is it recommended to use a vacuum sealer or other similar devices to store extension cords?

Ans: Using a vacuum sealer is not recommended for storing extension cords. A vacuum sealer or other similar devices may apply excessive pressure on the extension cord which can damage the cord. So, It’s better to use other alternatives such as organizers, reels, when you are rolling up an extension cord. And if you don’t have such an accessory right now, you can simply coil the extension cord manually in an organized manner explained in this guide for safe storage.


While the popularity of cordless appliances has reduced the need for cords in many areas, heavy-duty appliances and strong power tools still rely on corded solutions to maintain optimal power delivery and reliability. For such appliances, it is very important to manage the power cords or extension cords you might be using to power these devices. And for that, you need to check out the proper rolling techniques that are covered in this guide. Here, you can find various methods for rolling extension cords. Each rolling method has its advantages and is suitable for different types of cords. So, we suggest choosing the optimal solution for the cord you are using to make sure that the rolling up does not hinder the performance of the cord in the long run.

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