Power strips are convenient tools to connect appliances to a far-away outlet. Cheap ones and expensive ones are out there to bring electricity to appliances at home. However, one topic that keeps Reddit users debating is the microwave and whether it’s usable with a power strip.
Can you plug a microwave into a power strip? We do not recommend you do so, as this appliance requires a large amount of current.
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Why Shouldn’t You Plug a Microwave Into a Power Strip?
Power strips, extension cords or any other portable cables are only meant to power equipment temporarily. The US National Electric Code, or NEC Section 400.12 explicitly states that portable cords are never a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure.
Microwaves are generally placed in a fixed location, so it is best to plug them into an outlet directly.
- Portable cords may accumulate damage to their sheathing faster because of their exposure to the elements or to rodents. This can be a fire hazard, especially since microwaves are very powerful with an average rating of 1200 watts (thus, a current draw of 10 amps).
- Also, a lot of people tend to use the cheap 16 gauge kind of power strips that can only handle 13 amps when microwaves may demand 15 amps. The problem with having a microwave be plugged into a power strip is that people often use multiple appliances on this same circuit. This practice leads to overloads and potential fires.
- Another issue is the cord’s inherent fragility. Power strips are not that durable to begin with, and if you put them under carpets or walk on them frequently, wear and tear will occur, and skin contact with exposed wires can result in electrocution.
Can You Plug a Microwave Into Other Things?
If you really need to use the microwave while installing the fixed outlet for it, have an extension cord for microwave operation only.
Make sure the extension cord has the same electrical rating as the microwave with proper 3-prong grounding and that the insulation is free from any damage.
The same applies to using a power strip for microwave. Though we recommend against it, if you must break the rule, do not connect the heater and other appliances to the same strip that runs your microwave. Doing otherwise can create a dangerous situation if the breaker does not trip.
It does not matter whether you plug a microwave into a surge protector or place it on a microwave cart with electrical outlet; as long as the cord has the same rating as the microwave, you may temporarily use it.
Other Things to Consider if You Want to Use a Surge Protector
Can a microwave be plugged into a surge protector? Microwaves already have surge protection built into them. GE Appliances mentions that they have a varistor, so an additional surge protector is unnecessary. You can, however, have one if your residence is in a location with heavy thunderstorms that weaken the varistor over time.
If you choose to use a surge protector for microwave, make sure it is UL 1449-listed and has a warranty. Follow the same requirements for an extension cord as well: the device must have the same electrical rating as the microwave with proper grounding.
Note that newer replacement and upgrades of electrical services are now required to have a meter-based or panel-based surge protection device (SPD) to protect the entire house from voltage surges, not just the microwave. This started in the 2020 revision of the NEC, so we recommend you follow suit.
What Should Not Be Plugged Into a Power Strip?
Appliances with high loads must not be plugged into a power strip. This is an issue if the power strip is not rated for the current of the appliance. Aside from the microwave, other appliances that must not be plugged into power strips are:
- Space heaters
- Washing machines
Also, one thing that should not be plugged in a power strip is another power strip. Daisy chaining of power strips or surge protectors is dangerous because it may cause one power strip to easily exceed its current rating and start a fire. Even the US Congress had this violation before.
Can you plug a microwave into a power strip? We discourage you from doing so. Microwaves need to have their own dedicated outlet. Plugging them into power strips creates a fire hazard, especially if the strip is made of plastic that melts under heat.
While power strips are convenient, not all appliances should be plugged into them. The wrong setup might end not only your microwave but your own house too, so do not risk it.
I am Edwin Jones, in charge of designing content for Galvinpower. I aspire to use my experiences in marketing to create reliable and necessary information to help our readers. It has been fun to work with Andrew and apply his incredible knowledge to our content.