Skip to Content

Can Refrigerators Share Outlets or Need a Dedicated Circuit?

Sometimes, we run out of electrical outlets, and therefore, we tend to use a single outlet for multiple appliances. Some appliances require a small amount of power.

However, some appliances require very high power and so need a dedicated circuit of their own. Check on below to know more about the need of a dedicated circuit or an outlet for your refrigerator.

Can refrigerators share outlets or need a dedicated circuit?

A refrigerator cannot share outlets and needs a dedicated circuit of its own. This means that the outlet or the circuit can only be used by the refrigerator and no other appliance. This is to ensure the safety of the refrigerator and an undisrupted supply of power.

Refrigerators require a lot of power to operate. So, it is advised to dedicate an outlet or a circuit entirely to a refrigerator.

Using additional appliances along with the refrigerator may cause overloading of the circuit. This will in turn trip the circuit breaker and cause disruptions in the power supply.

Moreover, it will cause the refrigerator to fail in the long run. Continuous disruptions in the power supply may overheat the wires and result in an electrical fire.

Moving on, all the outlets that are present, are connected to a circuit. That circuit has a specific rating and appliances used should be compatible with such ratings. Too much difference can either fail the circuit or destroy the plugged-in device.

Most refrigerators, nowadays, have become increasingly efficient. This means that these require lower voltage than before to operate. But frequently, there are sudden current surges which are termed startup currents.

4 reasons why refrigerators need a dedicated outlet:

The need of a dedicated outlet is lead by multiple facts. Check on below to know them.

Demand for power:

Refrigerators require a high amount of power to operate. So having a dedicated outlet will ensure the refrigerator gets all the power required to itself.

Safety of the refrigerator:

Without a dedicated outlet, there may be repeated loss of power. This will cause the refrigerator to repeatedly turn on and off, resulting in severe issues in the long run.

Power ratings:

Having a dedicated outlet will confirm that the power ratings of the refrigerator are compatible with the ratings of the circuit connected to the outlet. This will avoid complications and keep the refrigerator safe.

Startup currents:

Similar to the previous point, having a dedicated outlet can come in handy when handling startup currents. A sudden surge will be easily dealt with if the circuit of the outlet is dedicated to a refrigerator only.

What happens if a refrigerator is not on a dedicated circuit?

The lack of a dedicated outlet for a refrigerator can lead to multiple risks. So know them before you caught yourself entangled between those unwanted situations.

Refrigerator may fail:

Not having enough power as in a dedicated circuit can prevent the refrigerator from working optimally. This may cause the refrigerator to stop servicing sooner than expected.

Frequent disruption of power:

As mentioned earlier, not having a dedicated circuit can result in sudden power outages. This will not only harm the refrigerator but also other plugged-in machines.

More price to pay:

The refrigerator may pull more power than the circuit can provide. This will result in tripping the circuit breakers multiple times and burning fuses. Replacing a fuse frequently is expensive and time-consuming.

Harmful result:

Similar to the previous point, if the refrigerator pulls more power than the wires of the circuit is designed to deliver, those may overheat. This can bring off fire in the wires.

Does a refrigerator need a special electrical outlet?

A refrigerator does not need a special electrical outlet. Most outlets have the standard 100–120-volt rating and are compatible with refrigerators. Certain plugs of refrigerators have 3 pins or prongs and require 3 insert points on an outlet.

One of the prongs is live while the other two are neutral and earthing. If the outlet has 3 points for the 3 prongs and is rated at 100-120-volts, it can be used for the refrigerator.

However, if the outlet does not have 3 insert points, then it is advisable to use a different one. Doing a workaround and removing the third prong may prove to be disadvantageous.

It is important to know to which circuit the outlet is connected. There are mainly 3 different circuits. There is a standard circuit for normal appliances and then there are the 20 amperes and 30-50 amperes circuits.

The 20-ampere dedicated circuit is used for low-power consuming devices. Such devices can be a home entertainment system or a kitchen appliance.

Then there are the 30-50 amperes dedicated circuits. This circuit is commonly used for very high-power-consuming devices. Refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, etc. are some examples of such devices that require to be power using the said circuit.

Does a refrigerator need a GFCI?

Yes, a refrigerator does require a GFCI. GFCI stands for “ground-fault circuit interrupter”. Refrigerators have a very high-power demand. As a result, it can easily bring harm by overloading an outlet with sudden current surges.

To handle such current surges, GFCI is required because it automatically trips when such an incident takes place. This prevents the wires from overheating and damaging the entire circuit.

Does the refrigerator need a dedicated circuit NEC?

Yes, the refrigerator needs a dedicated circuit according to the National Electrical Code (NEC).

The NEC requires that appliances that operate on high voltage need to be used in a dedicated circuit. The dedicated circuits should not be shared by other appliances.

A dedicated circuit is required to make sure that the refrigerator plugged in has the proper amount of required power. This will further make certain that no harm is done to the circuit and the machine.

If your refrigerator is continuously tripping the circuit breaker then it needs a dedicated circuit of its own.

Can you plug a refrigerator into a regular outlet?

Yes, a refrigerator can be used on a regular outlet. Most outlets have a rating of 100-120 volt and are compatible with the use of refrigerators. The outlet, however, has to be 3 pronged. Otherwise, that outlet cannot be used.

Furthermore, it is advisable not to use any workarounds. That means, if the outlet does not support 3 prongs, do not try removing the third prong. Instead, use a different outlet if possible.

The use of all three prongs is important. This is because if the refrigerator is not earthed, it may shock on touch.

However, if it is not possible to use a different outlet, then an adapter can be used. Any adapter that supports 3 prongs can be used. But the adapter has to support the ampere ratings of the refrigerator.

Can you use an extension cord with a refrigerator?

Yes, you can use an extension cord to power a refrigerator. However, choosing the correct extension cord is very important.

Things that should be taken into consideration are the plug type, amperage rating, wire gauge, and cord size. The plug type suggests if the extension cord has grounding or not. Choosing an extension cord with grounding is important for the safety of the refrigerator.

Next, the amperage rating gives an idea of how many amperes the wires can handle. Choosing an amperage rating greater than required is necessary.

Subsequently, the wire gauge refers to how thick the copper wires are. Thicker the wire, the more load they can carry. Having a high wire gauge will ensure the extension cord can handle any sudden current surges.

Lastly, the cord size is the length of the wire. The length should be as required by the distance between the outlet and the refrigerator.

How many amps does a fridge use?

A refrigerator uses around 3 to 5 amperes on the standard 100-120 volts. As a result, it requires a dedicated circuit that can handle more amperes. During the starting of the refrigerator, it uses a higher amount of power.

So, to stay on the safe side, use a dedicated circuit that can handle 15 to 20 amperes. This is to ensure that the circuit can handle the starting currents.

To calculate the amperage of a refrigerator, an energy meter can be used. This will show how much energy is being pulled by an appliance plugged into it. Hence, plugging the refrigerator into an energy meter will give the amperage used by it.

Another method that can be applied is using the Energy Star Rating Label. The Energy Star label will provide the number of powers. Upon doing further calculations, the average amperage of the refrigerator can be obtained.

Final Thoughts

A refrigerator is a heavy-duty machine and thus, as a general rule, requires a dedicated circuit of its own. It is required for the safety of the device and for handling the startup currents. Otherwise, it may fail to operate optimally and may cause severe consequences.