When Winter Comes

North Texas has a long and hot summer followed by a random autumn. Highs from the 40’s to the 80’s, lows from the 20’s to the 70’s. Then spasms of winter compete with autumn and spring from Thanksgiving until Easter. Highs in the 20’s to the 70’s, lows in the 10’s to the 60’s. It’s beautiful and erratic and helps you feel alive.

Here are some tips for running temporary electrical infrastructure on a homestead with active animals.


1. Keep all electrical pixies where they belong

2. Manage stock water to be always safely accessible. (Let the deicers do the work.)

3. Zero damage to water infrastructure.(Drain yer hoses.)

Everyone wants to avoid this

Here’s my work process:

Residential panel boxes are safe to open

First, open your panel box and understand the amp rating on your circuit breaker. This will tell you how much you can run off the plug in the wall, as a safe system has all components rated equal or greater than the circuit breaker capacity.

These are 20amp, they are commonly 15 in household boxes

Now take the watts rating of your deicer. Convert them to amps at 120 volts. Designate type as alternating current (AC) in this calculator: https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/electric/Watt_to_Amp_Calculator.html

Use outlets with Ground Fault Current Interrupt capabilities. If it’s the first outlet in the circuit it covers all outlets downsteam. This will immediately disable the branch in the event of a grounding issue. Examples are water ingress or broken components.

Now you know the amps of your deicer and the capacity of your circuit. Match extension cords to the application. Going big is always acceptable for electrical systems.

Outdoor rated, because they’ll be outside. Lighted plugs because that gives me information at a glance if the system is working.

12 gauge wire handles 15amp/1875 watts. On a 20amp circuit I can run a 1500w de-icer and a 250w de-icer safely and continuously.

When you use a splitter, verify the amp rating is at least as high as your extension cord. In this case it is 15amps splitter on a 12amp cable set.
Physically inspect your cable’s insulation (colored plastic) for physical damage. Vermin chew on them. Cover securely with quality electrical tape like Scotch 33+. This is not suitable for industry or contract work but it works in my residential setting. Beats exposed wire.

Now that you have your components figured out, it’s time to put it together.

As much as possible run on top of fence lines. If the cable is on the ground it will be tripped on. Whej stepped on it will damage the cable. Perfect your time and investment and run elevated.

Leave 5 to 10 feet of spare cable at each end, so as to have extra capacity when it is yanked on.

Work to secure the cable at multiple points along it’s travel path. I find an overhand knot, the first part of tying your shoes, to be the simple way.

These over hand knots are of particular importance where junctions occur

Finally, if a junction is on the ground and any source of water is available I like to secure it with a weather box. These are like $4 and last for years. Make sure it can accommodate your cable size, some do not handle 12 gauge he may duty cables. This also acts as a strain relief in the event a cable is yanked on.

Don’t be this guy
Winter without deicers, ice holds a cow on top
Until it doesn’t. Just run the deicer safely and avoid the impromptu swimming party opportunity

Oh, one more thing: