Refrigerators are heavy appliances. They are expensive but essential too. Even, their repairs are quite costly that can easily cost you few hundred dollars if the damage is more than just basic. So, it’s wise to know – should a refrigerator be put on its dedicated circuit?
Here’s If Refrigerator Be on Its Dedicated Circuit –
Refrigerators generally don’t require to be put on a dedicated circuit. The refrigerator doesn’t require GFCI or GFI power outlet but you need a heavy-duty lighting circuit with a 3-pronged socket for Live, Neutral and Ground support. Make sure the socket has a current supply of 15-amp for old refrigerators and 20-amp for modern refrigerators.
This article discusses this issue in great detail to educate you properly whether or not your refrigerator needs a dedicated circuit or what are its safest alternatives if this solution is extremely expensive.
Am I Required to Put Refrigerator on Dedicated Circuit?
In the USA, a residential kitchen fridge doesn’t require to have a dedicated circuit under NEC. But it’s definitely good to have a dedicated circuit just for the refrigerator.
A small appliance can share the circuit with a fridge in a residential kitchen as long as it doesn’t draw more voltage. However, if your kitchen has a spare circuit to use, it’s better to use it for other appliances.
Can I Plug the Refrigerator into A Small Application Branch Circuit?
Refrigerators don’t need any special outlets or dedicated circuits to run. You can plug your refrigerator into a standard 120-125 volt outlet. However, the socket needs to be three-pronged.
But we know, having a dedicated circuit for your refrigerator keeps you safer than using a shared circuit. During current overload or short circuit, a shared circuit may falter at the mercy of severe current fluctuation.
Now, we must understand that a dedicated circuit for a refrigerator has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Keeping Refrigerator on Dedicated Circuit
Dedicated circuits protect not only the appliances but also your home and family. Here are few advantages of using a dedicated circuit for your refrigerator:
- Your refrigerator will be able to handle blowing fuses, tripping breakers, and overheating of wire insulation. Otherwise, these incidents can cause electrical fires.
- A dedicated circuit with the right wire size and sufficient amperage prevents overheating of the appliance.
Just like advantages, these dedicated circuits also have disadvantages:
- Dedicated circuits are expensive. A single outlet costs you anywhere between $200 to $250. Then, the installation cost is almost the same too.
- In case the size of the wire and amperage are insufficient for the refrigerator, it may get overheated. Sometimes, it can result in an electrical fire.
- A dedicated circuit means you can only connect the refrigerator to it.
Are there any other ways to plug your refrigerator, as dedicated circuits are expensive?
Alternative Ways to Plug your Refrigerator Safely
When it comes to plugging your refrigerator safely, you are supposed to choose the right extension cord. A wrong extension cord can attract serious damage and even safety hazards. Therefore, plugging a refrigerator directly into a wall outlet is the safest option.
But at certain times, you may not have this safest option at your hand. So, what can you do alternatively?
- You have to choose a heavy-duty cord for plugging the refrigerator. A heavy-duty cord can handle the energy requirements of the refrigerator without compromising overall safety.
- The grounded extension cord with a three-prong plug is great for appliances like refrigerators. Of course, a shorter length of the cord will be important for the refrigerator.
- Extension cords with lower gauge numbers will be perfect as heavy-duty cords as they have a higher capacity of delivering power.
So, it’s obvious that using the right extension; you can also plug your refrigerator safely. But what should be the measurement of the amp circuit for your refrigerator?
Should Refrigerator Be on 15 amp or 20 amp Circuit?
Usually, smaller, regular refrigerators use 115-120 volt circuit that requires 15-20 amps to operate well. It will work on a general lighting circuit.
But when you are running major remodeling, a modern refrigerator with smart features will require a dedicated 20-amp circuit as it runs on 120-125 volts. It will prevent electrical overload due to the current wiring system of handling any additional power.
Now, if you have a freezer, you may wonder whether you can use the same circuit as your refrigerator. It’s a common thought that has come to almost all of us.
Can you Put Refrigerator & Freezer on the Same Circuit?
If we approach technically, it’s possible to put a refrigerator and freezer on a single circuit. However, this combo usually maxes out a few amps from what circuits can normally handle.
As the standard circuits mostly run around 20 amps, it is advisable to have separate circuits for these two appliances. Even National Fire Protection Association prompts that the increase of amps is not too comfortable for using the same circuit.
Why use separate circuits for your refrigerator and freezer? Here are a number of reasons:
- Less danger of food waste
- Fewer circuit breaker problems
- Your appliances will last longer
So, you have understood why you would need separate circuits for the heavy-duty appliances. Let’s find out what size of breaker you will need for your refrigerator.
What size of Circuit Breaker to Get for Refrigerator?
Before you find out about the size of the breaker for your refrigerator, you must know why your refrigerator needs it.
Why We Need Circuit Breakers
No matter what type of circuits we choose for electric wiring, we can’t stop emphasizing the importance of a circuit breaker. To say the least, it is one of the most crucial safety features in a circuit system.
When any part of the electric wiring becomes faulty, the circuit breaker detects the fault and immediately stops continuity. It prevents the continuation of the electric flow to the electrical equipment.
Circuit breakers have the potential power of saving a household from potential dangers due to short circuits or overload. These automatically operated switches mainly protect the electrical circuits from receiving major electrical damage.
Heavy power appliances draw lots of electricity to run smoothly. But when an electric shortage or overload period occurs, it puts pressure on these appliances. At that time, circuit breakers jump in and cut the power supply abruptly.
Specifications for Choosing a Right Circuit Breaker
- AIC Rating
- Voltage Rating
- Amperage Rating
- Sustained Rating
- Type of circuit breaker suitable for your refrigerator
Breaker Size for your Refrigerator
A modern refrigerator that requires 120- 125-volt individually will need a 20 amp circuit breaker. Anything lesser than 20 amp circuit breakers may not be able to work with refrigerators.
Types of Circuit Breakers
Now, there are several types of circuit breakers. Not all of them are appropriate for your refrigerator. So, below here we are telling you the most common type of circuit breakers and their working to help you know which works best with your refrigerator –
Standard Circuit Breakers
Standard circuit breakers have two varieties: single-pole and double-pole breakers. These breakers track rhythm of electricity as electricity moves around an indoor space.
During short circuits and overloads, these standard circuit breakers stop the current to prevent overheating. Overheating can happen if a ground wire comes into contact with a hot wire, or hot wire touches neutral wire or another hot wire.
As the standard circuit breakers shut off, it stops fire-breakout through electrical wires. For appliances like refrigerators, or other heavy appliances, a standard circuit breaker is extremely important.
GFCI Circuit Breakers
A GFCI circuit breaker can stop electric supply to circuits during the overload of currents. Also, these breakers come to the rescue, in-time of line-to-ground fault or short circuits.
However, you must know that GFCI circuit breakers are not suitable for the refrigerator as the device runs continuously. The reason is that GFCI breakers may stumble more times than it’s suitable for the refrigerator.
AFCI Circuit Breakers
In case of stopping an accidental electrical discharge through an electrical wiring system or cord, AFCI circuit breakers are a lifesaver.
When this circuit breaker senses an unusual path along with an electrical spike, it immediately disconnects the impaired circuit from receiving any power. Therefore, it prevents the arch from catching the flame in case it comes into contact with the heat supply.
Top Brands for Circuit Breakers
When it comes to top-quality circuit breakers, you can’t go for just any brand. Here are some top brands that I have found extremely good to invest your time and money:
- Square D
- Blue Sea Systems
- T Tocas
- Connecticut Electric
These brands produce some high-quality circuit breakers that have proven to be the most reliable for refrigerators. So, when you are on the lookout for a circuit breaker for your refrigerator, it will be best to choose from one of the above brands.
So, after going through all the information you can be confident that you don’t need to buy or install any GFI/GFCI dedicated circuit just for your refrigerator. Your refrigerator will be safe if you just put it on a 20-amp lighting circuit.