The Best Extension Cord Reels for Your Garage or Workshop

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I don’t know who’s designing homes these days, but nobody seems to have outlets in their garages. I feel lucky that my two-car garage has three outlets (counting the dedicated outlet for my garage door opener). 

Still, a retractable extension cord reel is one of the best purchases I’ve made recently. Now, I can bring power anywhere I need it, even outside, and the extension cord retracts up out of the way after I’m done. 

No more tangled cords and tripping hazards, right? 

Believe it or not, there’s more to choosing the best extension cord reel than you might think. So, I’ve done some research and found the cream of the crop for you. 

Whether you’re after a heavy-duty cord reel or the one with the longest cable for your buck, I’ve got you covered. 

Stick with me, and I’ll walk you through the best extension cord reels for garages that’ll make your life so much easier. 

In a hurry?
If you don’t have much time, use the links below to quickly find the Best Garage Extension Cord Reels.
-Best Overall, Best Heavy-Duty Cord Reel: Reelcraft L 4545 123 3
-Best 12/3 Cord Reel: Flexzilla FZ8120603
-Best 50′ Cord Reel: Reelworks GUR024 (26813154)
-Best 100′ Cord Reel: SuperHandy GUR058
-Best Budget Cord Reel, Best for Warranty: GearIT GI-REL-14/3-45F
-Best Value: Vevor AE315AWG16

Best Overall, Best Heavy-Duty Cord Reel: Reelcraft

I recently got my hands on the Reelcraft L-4545-123-3 cord reel. The model number is a mouthful, but it’s been a game-changer for me. 

Why Reelcraft vs. Coxreels or Hannay Reels?

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty cord reel that’ll last a lifetime, three companies stand out: Hannay ReelsCoxreels, and Reelcraft

Let me warn you upfront, the least expensive of these heavy-duty cord reels starts at around $300, but you can easily option these up to over $1000. 

That’s a lot of money for a typical home garage, even though you’re getting something that lasts a lifetime.  

Hannay Reels are at the upper end of the price range. They don’t allow you to buy a reel off-the-shelf, however. They have a network of dealers to walk you through the purchase process to make sure you’re getting the right product. 

That leaves Coxreels and Reelcraft. For this roundup, I looked specifically at the Coxreels EZ-PC series and the Reelcraft L4545. 

Coxreels EZ-PC series vs. Reelcraft L4545

Both of these heavy-duty cord reels have a lot of similarities. 

  • Both have individually powder-coated components, which helps minimize corrosion from moisture seeping between the parts. 
  • Both are made in the USA from reinforced steel. 
  • Both use 12/3 gauge rated for 20 amps. 
  • Both single-outlet cord reels use NEMA 5-20R connectors.

However, a few things made Reelcraft stand out for me. 

The Reelcraft cord is rated SJEOOW, compared to the Coxreels’ SJO rating. Although similar, the Reelcraft cable has oil-resistant insulation in addition to the oil-resistant outer jacket. It’s also water-resistant, making it more durable if it happens to get wet. 

I cover the different ratings in more detail at the end of this article, but here’s an overview: 

  • S – Service grade (flexible) 
  • J – Junior service grade (voltage rating of 300V) 
  • E – Elastomer insulation 
  • TPE – Thermoplastic Elastomer
  • OO – Oil-resistant insulation and outer jacket 
  • W – Water-resistant (suitable for outdoor use)

Why the Reelcraft Wins

Although the Reelcraft’s cord is 5′ shorter than the Coxreels, they’re both plenty long enough for most two-car garages. Assuming you mount your cord reel to the ceiling in the center of your garage, the Reelcraft’s 45-foot cable is enough to extend out of your garage and about thirty feet down your driveway. 

It’s also considerably cheaper than the Coxreels. Neither is cheap, don’t get me wrong, but the Coxreels are regularly over $500. 

I loved the durability and convenience of this cord reel. It’s slightly lighter than the Coxreels (27 lbs. vs. 34 lbs.), but its reinforced steel construction makes it feel like it will last a lifetime. 

However, there were a few downsides. 

The leader cord was a bit short, and mounting the reel wasn’t the most straightforward process. The base is almost twice the length of the Coxreels, which limits mounting options. 

Although I don’t expect to have problems, the warranty for Coxreels is double the length of the Reelcraft (two years compared to one year). 

Based on the specs and my initial experience, I give the Reelcraft L4545 123 3 extension cord reel a 4.5 out of 5. The craftsmanship and durability are impressive, but some minor flaws could be improved. The hefty price tag will also turn some people away. 

Overall, if you want to purchase a heavy-duty cord reel and expect it to last a lifetime, the Reelcraft L4545 is the one to get. However, this might not be the best option if you don’t have an unlimited budget.

Reelcraft L4545-123-3 12/3 x 45' Spring Driven Cord Reel
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you purchase after clicking on one of these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best 12/3 Cord Reel: Flexzilla FZ8120603

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly retractable cord reel, I recommend the Flexzilla FZ8120603. It has several of the same specs as the Reelcraft but at a much lower price. 

Admittedly, you’re trading price for build quality. The Flexzilla has an impact-resistant plastic housing instead of a powder-coated steel case. The mounting bracket is much smaller and thinner, so it won’t withstand as much abuse. 

However, the Flexzilla FZ8120603 Pro retractable extension cord reel still has 60 feet of 12/3 cable rated at 15 amps. The cable is SJTOW, meaning it has all the same properties as the more expensive Reelcraft cord reel except for the oil-resistant insulation. 

Like many other cord reels in this price bracket, the Flexzilla has a lighted 3-port outlet and a built-in circuit breaker with a reset button. 

Because it’s one of the new Pro Series retractable extension cord reels, the FZ8120603 has a self-leveling system that automatically rewinds the cord as it retracts. 

I loved this feature. It stops the cable from getting stuck inside the reel, forcing you to pull the cord out and start over. 

The lighted triple outlet is super helpful. Although my garage is very bright, it’s great when I’m working during the day with only the garage door open. The same goes for the power indicator light, even if it was slightly dim in sunlight. 

That said, a few things could be improved. 

For starters, the reel doesn’t come with lag screws or washers for installation, which I thought was strange, considering the price. 

The swivel mounting bracket is convenient, but it doesn’t feel very sturdy compared to the Reelcraft cord reel. Since the bracket only has holes for three screws, you’ll want to use heavy-duty lag screws when installing it. 

The leader cord comes out at a 90-degree angle to the mounting bracket and is pointed straight down. In most cases, you’ll mount an extension cord reel on the ceiling or wall, so the outlet will typically be next to or above the bracket. This position means you’ll probably have a kink in the cable, so you won’t get the full 5′ lead length. 

Overall, the Flexzilla FZ8120603 Pro extension cord reel is a solid choice for home use. It has some fantastic features similar to higher-end models. However, the installation was a bit of a pain. 

Based on my experience, I’d give this cord reel a 4.0 out of 5. It’s a good product and easily the best 12/3 extension cord reel for the money. With a few tweaks, it could be even better. 

Flexzilla Pro 12/3 x 60' Extension Cord Reel
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you purchase after clicking on one of these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best 50′ Cord Reel: Reelworks GUR024 (26813154)

This contest was neck-and-neck between the Flexzilla FZ8140503 and the Reelworks GUR024 cord reel. Ultimately, the Reelworks cord reel won out because it offers similar features at a slightly lower price. 

Switching between the 12 AWG Flexzilla Pro above and the 14 AWG non-Pro cord reel, you can definitely tell the difference. The 14 gauge cord reel doesn’t feel as beefy as the 12 gauge version. Plus, the reel isn’t self-leveling, so it tends to get stuck sometimes. 

That’s enough to open the door for the 14 AWG, 13 amp Reelworks GUR024. If you don’t need a 12 gauge cord but still want a 50′ cord reel, this is a great alternative at a much lower price. 

Plus, I’m not a fan of Flexzilla’s neon green color. 

At this price point, you’re getting into more general-use retractable cord reels. The 13 amp maximum means you can’t connect heavy-duty power tools like routers and table saws. However, it’s still enough to run corded drills and orbital sanders. 

The Reelworks GUR024 cord reel feels sturdy enough to withstand daily use. The mounting bracket swivels 180 degrees, like the Flexzilla’s. Although the bracket still feels flimsy compared to the Reelcraft L4545, it makes sense, given the price difference. 

The cord is decent quality, but at 14 gauge, it’s noticeably thinner than some of the other cables. Although not very noticeable in low-light conditions, the lighted outlets are nice.

That said, there were a few things I didn’t like. The lead cable is only about 3 feet long and suffers from the same poor layout as the Flexzillas. You’ll need to carefully plan where to mount this extension cord reel in your garage. 

Finally, it didn’t come with mounting hardware, which meant another trip to my local home improvement store. 

Based on my experience, I give the Reelworks GUR024 Cord Reel a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a good value for the money, and it’s built solidly enough and does the job. However, there are a couple of nagging features that it’s missing. I’d opt for the Flexzilla Pro 60′ model above if I had the extra money. 

ReelWorks 14AWG x 50' Foot Cord Reel
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you purchase after clicking on one of these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best 100′ Cord Reel: SuperHandy GUR058

Not many people really need a power source 100-feet away from the nearest outlet. Most garages aren’t that big. But, if you are one of those few, I recommend the SuperHandy GUR058 cord reel. 

If that model number sounds like the Reelworks model number above, you’re not alone. 

Based on the information I can find online, it’s reasonable to assume that RealWorks and SuperHandy are owned by the same company. 

Where it gets confusing is that there appear to be two parent companies

Intradin (based in China) claims to own SuperHandy, ReelWorks, and Goodyear. However, Great Circle Machinery Corp (based in California) also owns ReelWorks. That’s not the only commonality, however. In addition to ReelWorks, they also have these brands in common: FuelWorks, LubeWorks, and LandWorks. 

That confusion aside, the SuperHandy GUR058 cord reel is a solid product. 

It’s made of industrial-grade solid steel and has an impact-resistant polypropylene casing, meaning it’s super durable. The 100-foot cord is rated as SJTOW, like the Flexzilla cord reel above. That means:

  • S – Service grade (flexible)
  • J – Junior service grade (voltage rating of 300V)
  • T – Thermoplastic (PVC) insulation 
  • O – Oil-resistant outer jacket 
  • W – Water-resistant (suitable for outdoor use)

It’s rated at 14 AWG. However, because it’s a 100′ cable, that’s equivalent to a 16 AWG 50′ cable. 

I cover the relationship between amperage and cable length in a later section. For now, understand that electrical resistance increases with the length of the cable. So for super-long extension cord reels, you’ll need to up the amperage to get the same performance. 

Like the ReelWorks cord reel above, the SuperHandy cord reel feels solid. Although it has a plastic case, it feels durable enough to take some abuse in a working garage. 

The ratcheting mechanism worked seamlessly, and I like that I can use it both indoors and outdoors.

The one downside I found is the installation. 

The base is 1/4 ” thick steel, so it’s got some weight to it. However, I only got two mounting bolts, even though the bracket has four holes. That meant I needed to make another trip to the hardware store to pick up lag bolts. 

After using the SuperHandy GUR058 Cord Reel, I’m giving it a 4.0 out of 5. 

The installation was challenging because of its weight, but this cord reel’s durability and initial build quality are great. If you need a super-long extension cord reel but aren’t using any high-amperage power tools, this is the one to go with. 

SuperHandy GUR058 14AWG x 100' Extension Cord Reel
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you purchase after clicking on one of these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best Budget Cord Reel, Best for Warranty: GearIT GI-REL-14/3-45F

We’ve seen some excellent heavy-duty extension cord reels, but what if you need a light-duty cord reel and don’t want to buy more than you need? 

That’s where the GearIT GI-REL-14/3-45F extension cord reel shines. 

Not only does the GearIT win my best budget cord reel category, but it has the best warranty of any extension cord reel I’ve tested. 

In fact, the GearIT and Griot’s Garage reels are the only two brands with a limited lifetime warranty. Everything else, including the super-expensive ‘Made in USA’ brands, only have a one or two-year warranty. 

As the model number suggests, the GearIT GI-REL-14/3-45F cord reel includes a 45-foot, 14/3 gauge wire. 

It’s rated as SJTW, meaning it is water\weather resistant, but the cord isn’t oil resistant. So, be careful using this cord reel around automotive fluids. 

Also, it’s only rated for 11 amps, so you’re limited on what power tools you can plug into it. Drills and light-duty orbital sanders should be fine. 

I liked how smoothly the cord extended and retracted. Installation was a breeze, which was the first for these tests. 

However, there were some issues. I noticed the screw-down block on the cord could puncture the sheath if overtightened. Also, the breaker popped too quickly after a few days of testing. I do my best not to overload my extension cord reels, so I was surprised when that happened to this one. 

For what it is, the GearIT GI-REL-14/3-45F Cord Reel is a good choice. You can’t go wrong here if you only need an extension cord reel for occasional use. It’s not the most durable reel, and the breaker tripping was a concern. However, it’s a decent product with some areas that could be enhanced. This cord reel is a 3.0 out of 5. 

GearIT 14/3 AWG x 45ft Retractable Extension Cord Reel
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you purchase after clicking on one of these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best Value: Vevor AE315AWG16

I’m distinguishing between the Best Budget Cord Reel above and the Best Value Cord Reel. The Vevor AE315AWG16 cord reel has the lowest cable length price per foot. 

It’s the only 14-gauge cable on this list, so it’s a medium-to-light duty cord reel. It has a 50 feet long retractable cable with a 3.2-foot lead-in cord. The cable is rated as SJT, meaning it is not oil or water-resistant. 

It wasn’t the cheapest extension cord reel I looked at, but it does offer some good flexibility and features for the price. 

Unlike some of the other models that only lock at one-foot increments, this cable can be locked at any length and automatically retracts when you’re done. It has three outlets (non-lighted) at the end. 

Overall, the Vevor AE315AWG14 cord reel didn’t fit my needs, but it might be perfect for some people. This is a good choice if you’re trying to get the most cord length for the price and don’t need any other frills. I would give this product a solid 3.0 out of 5 stars.

VEVOR 14/3 AWG x 50' Extension Cord Reel
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you purchase after clicking on one of these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best Extension Cord Reels: Buyer’s Guide

When shopping for an extension cord reel for your garage, there are several things to look out for. You want to be sure you’re buying a cord reel that’ll power everything you need but not over-buy. 

Here are some factors to look for:

  1. Cord Length: Extension cord reels come in different lengths ranging from 25 feet to 150 feet or more. Consider the size of your garage and the distance from your outlet. Choose a cord length that will be long enough to reach all areas of your garage without unplugging and plugging in multiple times.
  2. Wire Gauge: The gauge of the cord determines its capacity to carry electrical current. This is related to its amperage (see below). Lower numbers mean thicker cords that can handle higher current tools. Choose a reel with a cord gauge appropriate for the tools you will be using.
  3. Cord Rating: Extension cords can be made from different materials, including vinyl, rubber, and polyurethane. Rubber and polyurethane are more durable and can withstand extreme temperatures, making them ideal for garage use. Cord ratings are explained in detail below. 
  4. Reel Material: Extension cord reels can be made from different materials, including plastic, metal, and wood. Steel cord reels are more durable and can handle heavy-duty use.
  5. Cord Locking Mechanism: Look for an extension cord reel with a locking mechanism to keep the cord in place when you’re not using it. This can prevent tripping hazards and keep the cord organized.

Amps vs. Cable Length

An extension cord’s cable amp rating (or amperage rating) measures the maximum amount of electrical current the cord can safely carry. 

But you can’t look at the amperage rating by itself, however. 

A cable’s amp rating and length are related because the longer the cord, the more resistance it will have. As resistance increases, the potential for voltage drop also increases, leading to decreased performance or overheating of the cord.

This is critical to determine what you can safely plug into your cord reel. 

For example, with a cable length between 25 and 50 feet, a 14-gauge cord will safely power between 14-15 amps, and a 12-gauge will safely power between 16 and 20 amps. 

If you extend that to a 100-foot cable, the 14 gauge cord drops to between 11 and 13 amps, while the 12 gauge cord drops to around 15 amps. 

Do You Need 12, 14, or 16 Gauge Cords?

People often ask whether 12, 14, or 16 gauge cable is “better.”

It’s not a matter of which gauge cable is better in general. It depends on the specific application and the electrical load the cable needs to handle. A cable’s gauge (or AWG, American Wire Gauge) refers to the conductor’s thickness inside the cable. 

The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire, and the more current it can carry.

A 12-gauge cable is a thicker cable with a larger diameter designed to handle higher current loads. This is suitable for heavy-duty power tools, large appliances, and devices with higher amperage requirements (up to 20 amps).

A 14-gauge cable is a medium-thickness cable for moderate current loads. It’s best for light to medium-duty power tools, smaller appliances, and devices with amperage requirements of up to 15 amps.

A 16-gauge cable is a thinner cable with a smaller diameter designed for lower current loads. It’s safe for light-duty power tools, supplimental garage lighting, and devices with amperage requirements of up to 10 amps.

Always choose a cable with a gauge that can safely handle the electrical load you’ll be using to prevent overheating and potential hazards.

What Are All These Letters? [Portable Cords Explained]

The table above shows ratings like SJO, SJT, SJTW, SJTOW, and SJEOOW

What do these mean?

These cables are all types of flexible power cords. Each letter refers to a different property of the cable. 

  • S – Service grade (flexible) 
  • J – Junior service grade (voltage rating of 300V) 
  • E – Elastomer insulation 
  • TPE – Thermoplastic Elastomer
  • OO – Oil-resistant insulation and outer jacket 
  • W – Water-resistant (suitable for outdoor use)

Looking specifically at the types of cables referenced in the chart:

SJO: This is a Service grade (flexible), Junior (voltage rating of 300V) cable with an Oil-resistant outer jacket. 

SJT: This is a Service grade (flexible), Junior (voltage rating of 300V) cable made with Thermoplastic (PVC) insulation. These cables are designed for medium-duty applications. 

SJTW: This is a Service grade (flexible), Junior (voltage rating of 300V) cable with Thermoplastic (PVC) insulation that is Water-resistant and suitable for outdoor use.

SJTOW: This is a Service grade (flexible), Junior (voltage rating of 300V) cable with Thermoplastic (PVC) insulation with an Oil-resistant outer jacket that is also Water-resistant. The cable’s outer jacket makes it suitable for outdoor applications and environments where exposure to oil is possible.

SJEOOW: This is a Service grade (flexible), Junior (voltage rating of 300V) cable with Elastomer insulation. It has Oil-resistant insulation and an outer jacket that is Oil and Water-resistant. The cable’s oil-resistant insulation and an oil-resistant outer jacket make them suitable for applications where exposure to oil is possible. They are also water-resistant, making them ideal for outdoor use.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Share with your friends!
Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.

Leave a Comment