Window AC Cord Too Short? Here’s What To Do

If you’ve read anything about installing a window air conditioner, you’ve likely read the rules about making sure there’s a proper outlet close by. Which would always happen in a perfect world. Since you all know we don’t live in a perfect world, you also know there will be times when — assuming there’s an outlet at all — it’s too far away.

So what can you do if your window air conditioner cord is too short? Anything? The good news is yes, there are a few things you can do. 

All window ACs don’t have power cords of the same length. A cord may be too short for you, but a window AC cord is not too short for the unit. It’s possible to replace the power cord — or add an extension cord — but only if your replacement matches or surpasses the electrical requirements of the AC. 

Regardless, we have you covered! We’ll share all the ways around that short cord and have you cooling down in no time at all. Granted, some of our solutions may be a bit more technical, but we won’t give you any bad or just plain stupid advice. 

And yes, we know that plugging any sort of high-draw electrical appliance into an extension cord is pretty much prohibited! With that in mind, let’s start off with a bit of an electrical cord beginner’s lesson. 

Electrical & Extension Cords 101

Whether you decide to replace your cord or simply use an extension cord, choosing the right cord—length, gauge, and rating/amps—is extremely important. So make sure you understand and apply the following before making any changes or additions. 

Plugging a cable into an extension cord
Before you reach for that extension cord, you have to make sure it’s compatible!

How to Match an Extension Cord to Load

Please note that the following applies whether you’re replacing the cord or adding an extension cord.

All extension cords are rated for an electrical load that’s equal to — at the very least — the electricity necessary to run your appliance. And ratings and classifications are based on cords that are less than or more than 50 feet in length

All the information here will be based on the assumption that the cord you will be using is less than 50 feet long.

The important criteria are: 

  • Wire gauge 
  • Amperage rating 
  • Wattage 

Appliances that draw an excessive amount of electricity, such as an air conditioner, will run at higher wattage and higher amperage, which will always correlate with a lower gauge. 

What You’ll Need

What you need may vary depending on the approach you take, so be sure to decide on what you plan to do and then gather what you’ll need accordingly. 

  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement power cord (must be the appropriate gauge)
  • Extension Cord (must be the appropriate gauge)

How to Replace Your Window AC Power Cord

Window Air Conditioner Installed
Replacing the power cord to a longer one allows it to reach an outlet safely

If your window air conditioner has a power cord that’s too short to reach an outlet, it is possible to replace the cord. This will be a bit of a DIY project, but it’s not too hard. 

An important point in advance. Typically, when you replace a cord, you would replace it with the same cord, not a higher gauge cord. This change may void your warranty. 

Do not replace a cord that’s simply longer without checking to see if you need a higher gauge. As pointed out above, the longer the cord, the lower the gauge. And a lower gauge is a lower number, not a higher number. 

To determine what cord you need, check the back of the air conditioner or your manual and find the amperage. If your air conditioner is a 20-amp unit you’ll probably need a 12-gauge wire and for a 30-amp unit, you’ll need 10-gauge.

If you want to get any replacement part – or see how much one would cost – click to enter your model number in the search bar below. Our partners at AppliancePartsPros stock almost every part with free guides on how to install them.

Let’s get started.

To help, here’s a visual. This video will show you an air conditioner being disassembled.

Window Air Conditioner Parts, Names, and Components

Step-by-Step Instructions to change your power cord

1. Unplug your air conditioner.
2. Remove your air conditioner from the window and place it on a level surface.
3. Remove the front cover and air filter.
4. Disconnect and remove the front electrical panel.
5. Remove the left and right front screws.
6. Remove the air conditioner’s internal components and access the small gray box that your power cord goes into. This is the service box.
7. Remove the screws holding the service box in place.
8. Find in disconnect the wire connector that attaches the white and black wires. 
9. Find and detach the ground wire.
10. Remove the old power cord.
11. Connect the wire connector on the new cord to the connector on the air conditioner.
12. Reconnect the ground wire.
13. Ensure that all wires are secure and thread the new cord through the access hole in the service box.
14. Work backward to the previous steps to reassemble your air conditioner and then replace it in the window and plug it in. 
15. Let your air conditioner run for a while to ensure nothing’s wrong, for example, it’s not cooling enough.

Add Additional Length with an Extension Cord

If all that sounds like too much work, the simple alternative is using an extension cord. 

However, again, not just any old cord. Using a cord with a low amperage rating is a fire hazard. And there’s a good chance that using an extension cord will void your warranty. 

If you have a large, 1,500-watt window air conditioner, it will have a 12.5-amp current. A 14-gauge extension cord will be able to handle that current. However, there’s another consideration.

Air conditioners will draw more current when you first turn them on, so while a 14-gauge cord may be sufficient, it might be a better idea to use a 12-gauge cord.

The best brands of window air conditioners — frankly, all brands — often top out at around 1,500 watts in size. Even if you have a smaller sized air conditioner, it’s not a bad idea to just go with the 12-gauge cord.

Install a New Outlet

This last option will only apply if you own your own home.

You’ll need to hire an electrician and it could cost you anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on the work that needs to be done, as the new outlet should be connected to a dedicated 20-amp circuit.


If your window air conditioner cord is too short, you do have some options. In this article, we discussed the following.

  • Replacing the existing power cord on your air conditioner
  • Using a 12-gauge extension cord
  • Installing a new outlet and a dedicated 20-amp circuit

Simply buying an extension cord is likely the easiest and cheapest route to go.

Thanks for reading through! Hopefully, this article helped you. While you’re here why not check out some of the related articles below?

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more