Mini-fridges are convenient little appliances to have in your home. But when setting it up, you wonder: does a mini fridge need a dedicated circuit?
If you’re not an expert on the electrical functions in your home, you may be hesitant to load up an outlet, or you may feel like it’s no big deal because that’s what they’re there for!
But there are serious dangers that come along with overloading your circuit. And overloading a circuit is certainly a possibility when you use a mini-fridge.
To ensure you are responsibly and safely operating your mini-fridge, read this guide and void overloading any outlets in your home.
You do not technically need to designate a circuit for your mini-fridge. However, it is highly recommended that you do to avoid electrical problems and disasters.
What Is a Dedicated Circuit?
A dedicated circuit means that the mini-fridge is the only appliance plugged into that particular outlet.
In other words, you have dedicated that circuit to your mini-fridge.
Some appliances max out the electricity delivered to an outlet, so it can be dangerous to plug in extra appliances or devices that could overload the circuit breaker.
Dangers of a Shared Circuit
The dangers of overloading a circuit breaker are severe, and you should never take the risk.
Not only can overloading your circuit cause electrical issues in your home and damage appliances, but it can also cause household fires that can lead to property damage, injury, or death in the worst cases.
Keep the following dangers and possibilities in mind. These are important when plugging any appliances into your home, especially mini-fridges.
Circuit Breaker Trip
A circuit breaker trip is the best case scenario if you overload an outlet.
This function is a safeguard in your electrical system that shuts off the flow of electricity to a particular outlet when taking on too much power.
A breaker trip will require you to reset the breaker, but it is an excellent function because it can prevent electrical fires, damage to your electrical system, and damage to your appliances.
Note: A circuit breaker trip can be an inconvenience, so be mindful of the outlets’ capabilities in your home.
An electrical fire is a worst-case scenario when you overload an outlet. An electrical fire occurs when you overload your circuit, and it begins to overheat until it sparks, prompting flames.
These fires can happen when the safeguards of the breaker trips fail or if you have an older electrical system that doesn’t have these safeguards.
Whether or not you are confident in your outlets’ amps for the mini-fridge, you should update your electrical system to include these safeguards.
Aside from the mini-fridge, these safeguards can prevent major disasters in your home and should be used on every property.
Some electrical systems have safeguards that apply to the entire system, not just individual outlets.
This safeguard is more likely to occur in older electrical systems, but it is also a decent scenario.
It should prevent fires because it cuts off the electrical power to your entire home.
But, of course, this means you lose power, which is never fun.
Resetting your electrical system to regain electricity can be a struggle, so again, it’s best to avoid overloading the outlets.
Damage to Appliances
The last danger of overloading your outlets is that this can cause irreparable damage to your appliance.
Sometimes the overload doesn’t impact your electrical system but goes the other way and can overheat your appliances to the point that their components become fried.
If you just bought a brand new mini-fridge, the last thing you want to do is fry it when you first plug it in.
Note: Keep in mind that the damage likely won’t happen immediately, but after it runs for some time, it has the chance to overheat and become unusable.
To use your mini-fridge safely, you should be aware of the capabilities of your outlets and how much electricity they can handle.
Not every outlet in your home will have the same power capacity. So if you aren’t sure, you may need to have an electrician expect them and report back.
Not every mini fridge requires the same amount of amps in the circuit to operate. There are energy-efficient mini-fridges that can run successfully without a high amp outlet.
Most mini-fridges require a minimum of 20 amps on the circuit it’s plugged into.
The mini-fridge manufacturer should list the amp requirements on the box or inside the user manual.
If you have misplaced the manual or can’t find where it mentions amps, you should play it safe and use an outlet with at least 20 amps.
Note: The average outlet in a home is rated for 15 amps, so you should check the outlets' amp capabilities before plugging in your new mini-fridge.
When plugging in a mini-fridge, you need to have a three-pronged outlet.
Most homes only have three-pronged outlets unless it’s a very outdated building.
Most mini-fridges have three prongs, so you won’t be able to use a two-prong outlet even if you wanted to take the risk.
Note: Additionally, try not to crank your mini-fridge up to its max power at all times. The fridge should be designed to handle this, but you may want to tread carefully.
Tips for Setting Up Your Mini-fridge
Here are some tips to set up your mini-fridge. These tips will help the fridge function properly, and you can avoid potential hazards.
Using a designated circuit is the most important aspect of setting up your mini-fridge.
The factors below are also important:
Give your mini-fridge space around it, so it doesn’t overheat. Don’t store fabric items on top, such as blankets, and keep the fridge a few inches away from the wall.
Make sure your mini-fridge is on a level floor. If it is slanted, it may leak, posing a whole new set of electrical issues and threats.
3. Keep Closed:
When using your mini-fridge once it is all set up, make sure you keep it closed as much as possible.
Opening it super often or leaving it open for periods forces it to use more energy and can cause it to overheat.
If this happens, it could damage the mini-fridge permanently.
So, Does a Mini Fridge Need a Dedicated Circuit?
When it comes to the electricity in your home, it’s better to play it safe than sorry.
So find an outlet that you can designate for your mini-fridge to avoid the dangers of overloading your electric system and possibly damaging your home or belongings.
In reality, most mini-fridges take up enough space against a wall that plugging something else that you may need to access is extremely inconvenient.
So snuggle your new fridge a few inches of a wall and give it its very own outlet.
To answer the question, “Does a mini fridge need a dedicated circuit?” – in simple terms, yes.
Despite the NEC not requiring it, they recommend it strongly, as do most professional electricians.
If you want more information on plugging in a mini-fridge or standard fridges in your home, read the commonly asked questions below.
Can a Mini Fridge Be Plugged into a Power Strip?
No, mini-fridges can easily overload a power strip, so it’s always best to plug such large and powerful appliances directly into a wall outlet.
Can a Mini Fridge Be Plugged into an Extension Cord?
Do not do this. Using an extension cord for your mini-fridge is even worse than using a power strip, and should never be done, no matter how efficient your fridge is.
Does a Refrigerator Need a Dedicated Circuit?
Standard refrigerators in kitchens should also use a dedicated circuit as they use even more power.
However, the NEC also has no requirements for this, but it is highly recommended.