Refrigerators are high-powered appliances that are common in US kitchens. These devices use compressors to preserve our food for long periods of time and are meant to be plugged directly into an outlet. However, a few homeowners often ask themselves: can a fridge be plugged into a power strip?
Well, can you plug a refrigerator into a power strip? We do not recommend it. Cheap power strips cannot handle a refrigerator’s current demand.
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Why Shouldn’t You Plug a Refrigerator in a Power Strip?
We have several reasons why you should not plug a refrigerator into a power strip. It’s all about prevention of fires and other electric hazards.
1. Power strips are for temporary use only, not for fixed appliances like the refrigerator.
A power strip (also known as a power bar to some) is more prone to have worn-out sheathing than fixed wiring, since it is exposed to the elements and foot traffic. This is a fire hazard for appliances, especially if the frayed wires overheat and create a spark. So, do not plug a deep freezer into a power strip or a fridge into one for that matter.
Power strips are also a tripping hazard, which is not great if you intend to run a 24/7 appliance like the refrigerator. They should be used only for low-load appliances and away from common routes in the home where people often walk.
2. The wrong power strips can easily be overloaded and cause a fire.
The cheap, common power strips at home are usually made with 16-gauge wires that can handle up to 13 amps. They can possibly handle the average 6-7 amp running draw of an average refrigerator, but may be overwhelmed by the starting current that is usually triple the running draw.
A 4-door French Door LG refrigerator can even require 15 amps, exceeding the 13 amp limit.
Sadly, a power strip has multiple sockets, and it can entice you into plugging a freezer into a power strip along with another appliance like a space heater. This situation can easily overload the cable, make it very hot, and cause a fire.
Recently, power strip safety measures have been introduced, such as built-in circuit breakers that would disconnect the line when it overloads. While this makes the device safer, it still is a hassle to always reset the power strip’s breaker.
Also, these power strips are made with cheap materials, so they can still be a hazard when their sheathing starts to melt.
3. Long power strips may make refrigerators work harder because of voltage drops.
A 14-gauge appliance power strip that exceeds 30 feet may cause the refrigerator to work harder to draw current from the outlet because of decreased voltage (also known as voltage drop).
As the length of the power strip becomes higher, the more resistance the power strip has and the higher the voltage drop. This is true, whether you have a regular refrigerator or a mini fridge be plugged into a power strip.
Of course, the best way to go is to connect the cooling unit directly to an outlet. This way, you can avoid any voltage drops caused by a power strip for refrigerator.
What Happens if You Plug a Refrigerator Into a Power Strip?
A refrigerator will draw a large amount of current from the outlet and the power strip. When current flows through any conductor, some of the energy will be released as heat. The higher the current flow, the greater the heat released.
A 16-gauge power strip is only rated for 13 amps. If a 15-amp Samsung refrigerator, for example, is plugged into this, the electrical flow (especially at startup) might produce a lot of heat and cause an overload. The sheathing of the power strip might possibly melt or cause a fire.
What’s worse, if you have a very long cable, the refrigerator will experience a voltage drop even if you are using a heavy duty power strip. If the voltage gets too low, the current draw may increase further and generate more heat, not only to the power strip but to the refrigerator components too. This can damage your refrigerator in the long run.
We do not recommend that you plug a regular refrigerator, a freezer, or even plug a mini fridge into a power strip. This practice can be a fire hazard that damages not only the power strip but the refrigerator and your house too.
If you ask yourself, “Can you plug a refrigerator into a power strip? Is it safe?”, always remember that it’s best to connect the appliance directly to an outlet. This removes any overloading, voltage drops, and tripping accidents associated with portable cords altogether.
- Can a Refrigerator Be Plugged Into an Extension Cord?
- Why Shouldn’t You Plug a Microwave Into a Power Strip?
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.