Can You Plug A Refrigerator Into An Extension Cord?

While most small appliances can be plugged in to an extension cord with no problem, that isn’t the case with a refrigerator.

We’ve already answered this before: plugging your refrigerator into an extension cord is not ideal and can be a fire hazard, especially if you are using the wrong kind of cord – more on that later.

For now, here are the reasons why you shouldn’t plug your refrigerator into an extension cord:

Extension cords have a lighter gauge than permanent house wiring

The gauge refers to the thickness of the cord’s copper wires.

The thin wires of the extension cord can’t handle a high load of electricity – this can make the cord overheat and cause a fire.

You should remember too that refrigerators are always turned on 24/7, giving the extension cord no rest period.

To ensure safety, you should plug your refrigerator in a grounded house socket.

Before buying a refrigerator, you should check the area where you want to put it if it has that kind of socket.

FURTHER READING: A Visual Guide On Where To Place Your Refrigerator

It can reduce the voltage coming to the fridge

The thinner the gauge, the higher the electrical resistance is. Also, the additional length of copper wire has more electrical resistance. These two factors cause a voltage drop along the way.

This voltage drop will reduce the efficiency of the refrigerator’s compressor and will eventually damage it.

According to Ohm’s law, voltage and amperes are inversely proportional – the lower the voltage, the higher the amperage. The more amps flowing, the more heat is produced. This heat can burnout your refrigerator’s parts and reduce its lifespan.

The wiring can be easily damaged

Since the wires are out in the open, it can be easily damaged compared to the permanent house wiring hidden in the walls.

The wires can be torn (look out for the fridge’s wheels!), its sockets are prone to liquid spillage, it can also be damaged in some way if something heavy falls on it.

What if you have no other choice?

It is always more advisable to use a permanent socket for your refrigerator – but we get it though, things are rarely ideal. Some of us may have no choice but to plug our refrigerator into an extension cord.

Here are some guidelines you need to know when buying an extension cord for a fridge. While it is not best practice to do so, it will make your house safer compared to using any old cord you see lying around.

Things to consider when buying an extension cord for a refrigerator

1. Gauge

As stated, the gauge refers to the thickness of the wire. It’s standard unit of measurement is AWG (American Wire Gauge).

Rather counter-intuitively, the lower the AWG number, the higher the gauge.

CategoryGaugeAmps
Light Duty#167A
Medium Duty#1412A
Heavy Duty#1216A
Extra Heavy Duty#1020A
*For a cord with a length of 50 feet or less.

For safety, opt for the #10 extra heavy duty gauge for your refrigerator.

2. Length

As said earlier, as the cord gets longer, its current carrying capacity gets lower.

Choose a cord that is short enough to reduce the voltage drop, and long enough to give you some slack when you need to move the fridge a little for cleaning and maintenance.

3. Rated Wattage

Check the specs of the extension cord to see its rated wattage. Never go above this number, as if you overload it, it will start a fire.

You should also check your refrigerator’s rated wattage – you can see it in the rating label at the back of the fridge, just above the compressor. Alternatively, you can search for it in the manufacturer’s website.

4. Plug

The refrigerator comes with a three-prong grounded plug, hence you should also buy a grounded extension cord.

The third pin is known as the grounding pin. Do not remove this as this is for your own safety; in case of a malfunction in the electronics, the grounding pin delivers the excess electricity to the ground – rendering it harmless.

If the grounding pin was taken off, then the excess electricity will go to the next best conductor – the big metal body of the fridge – thereby electrocuting whoever touches the fridge.

Conclusion

You can plug most small appliances into extension cords, but for a refrigerator? Better hold off on that.

Do your research first when buying an extension cord for your refrigerator. Not all cords are created equal; some can be more harmful than helpful.

This is why we always recommend to position your refrigerator where an electrical socket is nearby. Safety first!

Sources

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