I currently use a regular 50 foot power cord rated for 15 amps. I use it only for two laptops and one camera, making a draw of about 5 amps according to the "input" label on the power supplies.

The 50 foot cord is heavy, while I notice 100 foot XLRs I have are a pound lighter. Considering both are three wire cords, I thought that there might be "power over XLR" in some way.

If not, would it be safe to snip off the ends of an XLR and attach standard power plugs that you can buy at the hardware store, assuming I never try to draw higher than 5 amps?

  • 1
    Something no-one has mentioned is that using the XLR connectors "off book" as it were is dangerous, when someone who expects an audio line-level signal coming through it plugs your modded XLR cable into the back of their bit of audio equipment and puts on their headphones ☠↯☠↯☠↯
    – stib
    Oct 16 '18 at 3:37
  • I just looked on ebay and if you search for 'Power XLR combo cable' you'll find cables that have kettle plugs and XLR audio plugs, for using with powered speakers. Might be what you need.
    – stib
    Oct 16 '18 at 3:39

Hard NO.

Not as a high voltage extension cord.

You're drawing only 5 Amps, sure, and XLR cables can carry from 2 to 10 amps, but not 120 volts of alternating power. XLR cables are not meant to conduct that kind of voltage, if you attempt it, the wire could overheat, melt your connections, and potentially start a fire.

XLR is commonly used for low-voltage applications (mostly 4 and 5 pin XLR though), so you could rig up something to carry the DC power from your device transformers. Plug your power adapters into the wall, then use the XLR cable to carry the low-voltage DC power to your electronics. This will require some more fine-wiring, and there's no guarantee the wires will carry the DC 100 ft to the satisfaction of your devices. They may not power on at all.

You're better off using your proper power cable.

  • 2
    You're mixing voltage and current in your answer. What will melt the wire is not the voltage, but the power that is being dissipated in the wire, which is proportional to the current flowing through it (amps) × the voltage × the resistance of the wire.
    – stib
    Oct 16 '18 at 3:32

You would best off speaking with an electrician as there is more to this than just wires, you have to consider things like current, draw, heat, limits to voltage with thinner cables etc.


Absolutely not. XLR (off the shelf) is rated for mA, not Amps, and at 48v at the high end... which is basically phantom power.

Now you COULD have a custom cable made. Markertek does this, and they do a great job making custom cables. They certainly could use an AWG 18 4 Wire, and put Neutrik connectors at both ends, one male and one female. But I don't see why you would need this.

If you want to only carry 1 cable, just so everything is run on a single path, I'd recommend having Markertek make a custom cable with break away tails. They would set it up with a shielded AC 120v rated main for your power, and run what ever you need along that same path (3 pin xlr, 4 pin xlr, multi-xlr, bnc). At each end you could have them either wire a small breakout similar to a malt box, or just have break away connectors with "x" amount of lead at each end.

But definitely do not run Amps of power through a cable rated for 1/1000th of that current.

  • Actually, common 3 pin XLR of reputable make is rated for well north of 10A (Time was they were often used on loudspeakers!), but they are NOT a mains connector, and usually the cable used will also not be rated for power service. Your weight comes really from the cable, not the connectors anyway, and you would want to be using something that your local approvals folks would accept for mains usage, which is NOT going to be mic cable.
    – Dan Mills
    Oct 15 '18 at 16:39

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