Selecting the Proper Reel for Your Application

Understanding types of cord reels – lift, drag, stretch or retrieve?  

One of the first decisions to make when choosing a retractable cord reel focuses on the application and environment where it will be used. Whether you require a lift, drag, stretch or retrieve application, there are a variety of cord reels to choose from. To ensure you are selecting the proper reel, be sure to have the answers to the following questions:

  1. How will this reel be used?
  2. Where/how will the reel be mounted?
  3. How will the cable be paid out or extended (horizontally or vertically)?
  4. Do you require a ratchet to lock in place after extending the cable or does it need to be in constant tension to follow equipment? Note: with many reel configurations, a ratchet and ball stop are standard.

In addition to answering these questions, review the 4 types of cord reels listed below and use the information to determine which reel is the right one for your job. An experienced engineer or technical salesperson can also help determine the proper reel for every application and environment.


This reel needs to “lift” the cable vertically. Typically the reel is mounted on the ceiling, is stationary, and the cable is pulled straight down by a machine or hand, as with a pendant station or overhead light source. The reel is normally designed to handle only the weight of the cable or with an outlet box on the end. Typically this type of reel uses a ratchet to lock the cord in place once it’s extended.  This tends to be the most common reel and can be found in a variety of industries and applications including retail, classrooms, manufacturing and much more.


This reel is usually mounted close to/on the floor. The reel needs to “drag” the cable through supports or on the ground horizontally.

Similar to the lift reel, this reel is also mounted in a stationary position and cable is pulled out by machine or hand.  Typically this type of reel uses a ratchet to lock the cord in place once it’s extended.


The cable is “stretched” horizontally and is unsupported on this reel which is typically mounted elevated off the ground, or from the ceiling. The reel may be stationary mounted or mounted to moving equipment. Cable is pulled out by machine and extends horizontally with some sag.

Note:  An extra 10% in cable beyond active travel is required for cable sag.


This reel is necessary for very specific applications, such as on railcars or something similar. The reel is mounted on the moving object and winds up or pays out the cable as the machine approaches or moves away from the cable support surface.

Have more questions?  KH Industries can quote your project to find a suitable cord reel for your specific application needs.

Contact for more information or visit the website for a full line of cord reels.


Contact KH Industries for more information, including available models and pricing.

Phone: 716-312-0088


KH Industries is the leading U.S. manufacturer of industrial-grade power products, heavy duty portable lighting and hazardous location lighting for the aviation, utility, fleet, construction, chemical, petroleum, marine, and agricultural industries.  KH Industries is a US manufacturer located in Hamburg, New York


1 Comment

  1. malcolm September 14, 2018


    Cable real to handle 100 feet of 4 AWG # 2 conbined with 4 AWG # 8 in a single cable. The strand is capable of 90 amps of 3 phase 60 Hertz 208/115 volt power. manual or electric driven.

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