Written By
Published Apr. 30, 2019

Why do automotive and DIY jobs always seem to be a long way away from a power outlet? When you get yourself an extension cord reel, this will no longer be a problem. This essential piece of kit takes the power to where you need to work. They are a safe and convenient option for many types of tasks.

The best extension cord reels come with an array of features to help you work efficiently and safely. Most of them will retract the cord automatically and smoothly and will avoid annoying kinks. They come with multiple grounded power outlets so you can use several tools at the same time and many have a circuit breaker to protect you from surges in current. To help you decide which would be the best extension cord reel for your workshop, here is a quick guide.

The Best Extension Cord Reel

This impressive retractable extension cord reel is packed with features that make it an essential device to have in your garage or home. It is made from impact resistant polypropylene so it is durable and tough yet lightweight. It has a triple outlet capacity in a lighted indicator for those hard to see areas and the lead-in cord is 4.5 feet.

The total length of the cord is 50 feet but it has an adjustable cord stopper that locks the cord at three foot increments. For your safety and peace of mind, it has a built-in circuit breaker with a reset button on the reel. A very useful feature is the swivel bracket that allows the reel to rotate up to 180 degrees so it will always be in the direction of where you are working. It can be mounted to a wall to save floor space or mounted to a ceiling to avoid trailing cables.

Key Features
  • 50 ft. retractable extension cord reel
  • Triple outlet capacity in a lighted indicator
  • Adjustable cord stopper
  • Built-in circuit breaker
Specification
  • Brand Flexzilla
  • Model E8140503
  • Weight 13.29 pounds

This is a heavy-duty extension cord reel that comes with a mounting bracket so it can be fixed to a wall or a ceiling. It also has a useful handle for carrying it around. The cord is a heavy grade 12 gauge material that can be used for supplying power tools and saws as well as household appliances like vacuum cleaners.

The 40 foot cord retracts automatically to save you time and reduce trailing cables. It has an in-built circuit breaker and a three prong grounded plug with reinforced blades for maximum electrical safety. The cord has a flexible vinyl coating which is both water and oil-resistant and will withstand exposure to abrasion and UV in sunlight. The plugs have LED lights which indicate when the power is on.

Key Features
  • 40 foot cord resistant to oil and water
  • Can be fixed to a wall or a ceiling
  • Three prong grounded plug with reinforced blades
  • Plugs with LED lights
Specification
  • Brand Iron Forge Cable
  • Model IFC-123CR40
  • Weight 11.9 pounds

With a 54 inch lead-in cord and a 40 foot reeled cord, this is a compact but very useful piece of kit. The cord itself is made from a special type of PVC (SJTOW) which is tangle-free and resistant to UV light and ozone as well as water, oil and acid that you may find in a typical garage. It has a clever auto-guide rewind mechanism to avoid kinks. The ratcheting system will lock the cord at any length or you can select a non-lock mode.

It has an inbuilt breaker button for electrical overloads and an LED light connector for poorly lit areas. The included swivel bracket allows it to be mounted to walls and ceilings and gives a 135 degree rotational movement.

Key Features
  • PVC (SJTOW) cord resistant to oil and water
  • 54 inch lead-in cord – 40 foot reeled cord
  • Auto-guide rewind mechanism to avoid kinks
  • Swivel bracket for mounting
Specification
  • Brand Goodyear
  • Model 4330226619
  • Weight 13 pounds

Here we have an extension cord reel with a longer cord that is a full 80 feet. It can be used in any workshop and has a high enough capacity for all your outdoor power tools at 120 Volts and 13 amps. There are four outlets and an on/off switch as well as a light power indicator. To carry it around, there is an easy-grip handle and the reel is located in a robust stand.

The reel has an integrated overload button which can be reset and to aid safety there are childproof covers. For easy rewinding of the cord with no kinks, the reel as a cord guide.

Key Features
  • 80 feet cord
  • Can be used for power tools
  • Easy-grip handle and robust stand
  • Integrated overload button for safety
Specification
  • Brand Masterplug
  • Model OLA801114G4SL-US
  • Weight 11 pounds

This is a 65 feet reeled cord with a triple tap connector for all your appliances. The cord itself will resistant exposure to acids and alkalines as well as ozone. It is flexible but does not kink easily and can withstand temperatures of -58 degrees F to 221 degrees F.

Thanks to the auto-guide rewind design it will retract quickly and smoothly. There is a ratcheting and double adjustment design so the cord will lock at any length. The breaker button prevents surges of power. The casing is made from impact resistant polypropylene which is also lightweight. Thanks to the swivel bracket, it can be mounted on the wall or ceiling and will rotate around 135 degrees.

Key Features
  • 65 feet reeled cord
  • Triple tap connector
  • Auto-guide rewind design
  • Will rotate around 135 degrees
Specification
  • Brand ReelWorks
  • Model CR625201S3A
  • Weight 19.8 pounds

This product has a 50 foot extension cord on a reel which makes up a heavy duty and robust power station that will withstand the rigors of work in the garage, home and work shop. The reeling motion is smooth and even.

It has a total of six grounded outlets so you will always have enough power for your appliances, even if you are using several at once. The cord has a bright green and black striped coating to prevent trips and is made out of a strong 12 gauge material. The reel itself has a stable metal base that will not move around as you are winding and unwinding cords. It also has an easy grip handle. Thanks to the 15-amp circuit breaker, power surges will not be a problem and it has an indicator light to show that it is receiving power.

Key Features
  • 50 foot extension cord
  • Six grounded outlets
  • Stable metal base
  • Easy grip handle
Specification
  • Brand Designers Edge
  • Model E238
  • Weight 10.55 pounds

There is one outlet in this retractable reel that has 20 feet of cable although a four-outlet version is also available. The cord itself is made with SJTOW PVC for flexibility and durability in all temperatures. It will resist tangling and kinking and retracts easily.

The reel has its own 15 Amp circuit breaker and has a light to indicate when it is receiving power. It comes with hardware to mount it to the wall or ceiling.  

 

Key Features
  • 20 feet of cable
  • One outlet for one appliance
  • In-built 15 Amp circuit breaker
  • Power light
Specification
  • Brand Alert Stamping
  • Model 5020TFC
  • Weight 10.35 pounds

There is a full 45 feet length of 12/3 cord in this reel which is made from reinforced steel welded robotically and which can be attached to just about any structurally sound surface. Thanks to the collector ring, you will be assured of the best conductivity and current flow. It features a multiple guide arm which makes it totally versatile and easy to adjust. The drive mechanism of the reel is enclosed so the weather and dust cannot damage it.

It is resistant to spring damage caused by reverse winding because it has a declutching arbor and only the highest quality spring steel is used in its construction. Each of the components has been powder coated to give the best protection against corrosion.

Key Features
  • 45 feet length of 12/3 cord
  • Multiple guide arm
  • Enclosed drive mechanism
  • Declutching arbor
Specification
  • Brand Reelcraft
  • Model L 4545 123 3
  • Weight 27 pounds

A durable, bright yellow reel that has been safety tested and can withstand challenging work environments. It is made in the USA from high quality materials and can be used outdoors. The heavy duty 50 ft cord retracts inside the robust case smoothly as it has a thermoplastic insulation.

It provides four 15 amp grounded outlets. For your safety, there is a 15amp circuit breaker which can be reset and there is an LED light that indicates when the power is on. It comes with useful mounting brackets.

Key Features
  • 50 feet cord
  • Thermoplastic insulation
  • LED light that indicates when the power is on
  • Four 15 amp grounded outlets
Specification
  • Brand Bayco
  • Model SL-8904
  • Weight 10 pounds

An inexpensive and compact retractable cord that will pull out and lock to your desired length. It can be mounted securely to the ceiling above a workbench or to a wall in a garage.

When you pull on the cord and release it, it automatically retracts. The reel provides three grounded outlets. The cord is encased in a hardwearing metal reel that has an epoxy finish that is durable and scratch-resistant.

Key Features
  • Inexpensive and compact
  • Can be fixed to ceilings
  • Cord retracts easily
  • Scratch-resistant case
Specification
  • Brand Craftsman
  • Model 34-83928
  • Weight 8.8 pounds

Best Extension Cord Reel Buying Guide

What to Consider When Buying an Extension Cord Reel

Here are some of the features that you should consider when you are choosing your retractable extension cord reel.

  • Length of cord

This will determine how far away you can work from the power outlet. Cords can be up to 80 feet which gives you great flexibility about where you work. However, such a long length of cord can present hazards because it can get damaged and someone could trip over it. It will also take a while to reel it all back in. You should only reel out the length of cord that you need.

  • Length of lead in cord

This is the length of cord from the power outlet to the reel. This will depend on how close you can get the reel to the power supply, it is usually just a few inches.

cord reel

  • Casing

The casing needs to be hardwearing so that it can stand up to a work environment. Most cord reels are used in garages and workshops where there are things that could fall on them. Many models made from a durable plastic but some are made from metal. Some also have stands with carry handles so they can easily be moved around. It is also important that the casing is lightweight for portability.

  • Cord material

Most cords are made from a strong PVC material. It needs to be able to withstand the substances that are found in a typical garage or workshop environment so it needs to be oil and water resistant. Also, many cords will withstand common chemicals. It is useful if it does not degrade on exposure to ozone and UV light.

  • Number of outlets

This depends on how many appliances you need to use at the same time. For many automotive and DIY tasks, you need several tools at the same time and they all need a power supply. Some reels have just one outlet and others have up to four. They should be grounded for electrical safety.

  • Circuit breaker

This is a very useful feature that will protect you and your equipment from surges in power. There should be one on your home power supply but it is always best to have one on the extension cord reel as well. They can usually be reset by just pressing a button.

  • Power light

This is a useful indicator of whether there is power flowing to the reel or not. It is another safety feature.

  • Mounting brackets

These are needed in order to fix the reel to the ceiling or floor where you are working. It keeps cables out of the way and makes the working environment safer.

  • Swivel feature

This enables you to turn the power outlets in the direction that you are working.

Related Posts: Best Garage Lighting and Best Garage Work Bench

Extension Cord Reel

Why You Need an Extension Cord Reel?

A retractable extension cord reel is a highly useful device to have in your home or workshop. Here are the main reasons why you need one.

  • Working in your work shop

Work shops seldom have sufficient power outlets and those that are there are often in the wrong place! No matter where you place your work bench, an electric cord reel will make sure that you have a power supply.

  • Using power tools

As the name suggests, power tools require a lot of power! This means that you need a strong cable that can carry a lot of current. An extension reel helps you to get all that power where you need it.

  • Keeping safe

Trailing cables are a hazard but when you have an extension reel, they will be a thing of the past. Because you can mount them on a ceiling or on the wall close to where you are working, any unused cable will be safely stored inside the reel. Many have a ratchet system that only lets out the cord that you need.

  • Robust and durable

 The electric cord on extension reels is constructed to withstand oil and water and many will also resist chemicals found in workshops. They do not break down with prolonged exposure to UV or ozone so they will last for many years.

  • Multiple appliances

Most extension cords have multiple outlets so you can use them for many appliances at the same time. This is very useful if you are carrying out some DIY that requires multiple saws, drills etc.

Related Post: Best Tool Chests

Retractable vs. Manual Reels

With a manual electric cord reel, you will have to physically wind the cord back in when you have finished. However, with a retractable cord reel, there is a spring inside the housing so when you press a button, the cord will go back in. Sometimes, you tug on the cord and a ratchet mechanism is released so the cord enters back into the casing.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and it comes down to personal preference. It is possible for retractable reels to break but they do recede into the casing very smoothly and do not kink. A manual reel is more likely to kink and is harder work. Because it takes some effort to wind it back into the casing, you may not bother and this can cause a trip hazard.

Retractable Extension Cord Safety Tips

Electrical extension cord reels (and all other types of extension cords) are very useful in a workshop and at home but they do come with a set of hazards. If you are aware of those hazards, you can take steps to make sure that they are controlled. Here are some top tips for staying safe when you are using a retractable extension cord reel.

  • Make sure that the cord is not damaged. Cords in extension reels are very strong and have been designed to resist damage but they can still get cut and split. This exposes the wires beneath and is very dangerous. They should be checked each time they are used. If a cord shows signs of damage it should be discarded and replaced.
  • Buy from a reputable supplier. Make sure that the extension cable reel is from a brand that you trust and has passed all the necessary safety tests.
  • Check the plug. It is important that you fully insert the plug of the extension reel into the power outlet before you turn it on. This will prevent sparking and electrocution.
  • Keep electricity away from water. Water and electricity never mix. The reel should be protected from water and that includes rain.
  • Store extension cords carefully. Extension cords should always be stored indoors in a dry part of the workshop when they are not in use.
  • Unplug when not in use. Once you have finished using the extension reel, make sure that it is unplugged. Some have a light to indicate that power is reaching them. This light should be off before you leave it unattended.
  • They are not a long-term solution. If you have been using an extension cable reel in the same place for several months, it is probably time to consider rewiring and getting a permanent outlet. They are not meant to be a permanent solution.
  • Don’t use several. It is not safe to plug one extension cord into another extension cord. Instead, you should get a reel with a longer cord. If you need to work a long way away from a power source, you will have to use gas or battery powered tools.
  • Check the watts. The extension cord reel must have a wattage that is equal to or higher than the tool that you are using it with.
  • Don’t overload extension cords. If the retractable cable reel has three outlets, it is only designed for three power tools so don’t plug four into it. This will lead to overloading and could be dangerous.
  • Carefully insert plugs into the outlet. The outlets of extension cord reels can get damaged and this makes them unsafe. Therefore, be careful how you insert plugs.
  • Avoid overheating. When too much current is flowing through an extension cord it will overheat so take measures to avoid this.
  • Be careful with the cord. When you have up to 50 feet of cord in your workshop, it is easy for it to get damaged. Therefore, you need to be aware of where it is and take measures to protect it. It should never be driven over with a vehicle as it the weight will damage it.
  • Don’t drag it. Don’t move the retractable cable reel casing by grabbing the cord and dragging it. This will put a strain on the cord and could break it. Always pick it up by the casing and by the carry handle if it has one.
  • Avoid trip hazards. Any sort of long cable is a trip hazard. Don’t unwind more cord than you need and wind it back in as soon as you have finished. Wall mounting and ceiling mounting the reel is a good way of avoiding this hazard.

Worker Holding Cord Reel

Our Top Pick

Our top pick of the best extension cord reel is packed with features that you need for your garage and home. It is made from impact resistant polypropylene and has a triple outlet capacity with a light indicator. The lead-in cord is 4.5 feet.

The total length of the cord is 50 feet but it has an adjustable cord stopper that locks the cord at three foot increments. There is a built-in circuit breaker with a reset button and a swivel bracket that allows the reel to rotate up to 180 degrees. It can be mounted to a wall or ceiling to avoid trailing cables.

Related Posts: Best Push Mowers and Best Leaf Blowers

Sources:

  1. How to use electrical extension cords properly?,  Energuide

MORE TO READ