Can a Microwave and Fridge Be on One Circuit? It Depends!

Researched & Written by Craig

Have you run out of slots on your circuit panel? Are you tempted to put the microwave and fridge on the same circuit? This article will explain whether this is a dangerous move or not.

A microwave and fridge can be on the same circuit if:

  • The microwave uses less than 10 amps
  • Your local electrical code permits you to do so
  • Your refrigerator’s manual doesn’t prohibit circuit installation with other appliances
  • You live in an old home that has not had its wiring system updated

You should check your local electrical codes before you make any changes to your kitchen. But as I am sure you would agree, just because something is lawful, doesn’t mean it’s always the best idea. So, should you put your microwave and fridge on the same circuit?

Take a look at the extended guide below to find out.

Can a Microwave and Fridge Be on One Circuit? It Depends!

Are you remodeling your kitchen? Then you’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of not having enough circuits to shuffle your appliances around.

So then what do you do?

You may be tempted to put the garbage disposal on the same circuit as the dishwasher. You might think of pairing the electric oven with the coffee maker. Or how about the washing machine and the hood?

After all, what’s the worst that could happen? 

Well, I think I will leave the answer to that question down to your imagination. But here are some of the dangers of sharing circuits with big electrical appliances:

  • You could trip your circuit breaker.
  • You could blow your circuit breaker.
  • Your electrical wiring could heat up, melt, and start a fire.

So, you’re no doubt wondering, should a microwave and a fridge be on one circuit? Take a look below to find out.

Your Microwave’s Electrical Consumption

How can you know whether it’s safe for your fridge and microwave to be on the same electrical circuit? Well, it depends on a few factors.

The first factor is the electrical consumption of your microwave. Do you have a family-sized microwave that can heat your meal in 30 seconds flat? Then the chances are it’s a big energy drinker. What should you do with models like these? The safest option would be for you to put them on their own circuit.

But, if your microwave is smaller, you may be able to put it on a shared circuit. But this depends on its electrical consumption along with other factors. If your microwave uses 10 amps or less, it could be safe to connect with other electrical appliances. But this would still depend on the electrical code in your area. It would also depend on the user’s guide for your microwave and fridge.

Your Local Electrical Code

Before you make any changes to your kitchen, you should check your local electrical codes. Why is it so important that you do so? Here are just two reasons:

  • Your local electrical code may differ from your appliance’s user manual. Your manual may say that your appliance can share a circuit with another. But, your local electrical code may prohibit you from doing so.
  • Your local electrical code may have different rules for older and new houses. Older houses may be running on far fewer circuits than newer houses. Generally, older wiring systems are allowed to stay in place when you remodel the kitchen. These rules give you a lot more freedom of choice for the layout of your electrical appliances.

What should you do if your user manual and your local electrical code have conflicting rules? Then you should follow the guidelines in your local electrical code above all else.

Why? Well, your local electrical code is carefully tied in with your home insurance. So, what happens if you don’t follow the rules of the electrical code? You could invalidate your insurance. If something happens in your home and you want to make a claim, you could find yourself in a sticky situation.

Your Microwave and Fridge Manuals

Man-Reading-User-Manual

Check your user manual to see if both appliances are safe to use on a joint circuit

Are you wondering whether it is safe to put your fridge on the same circuit as your microwave? Then you should check your user manuals. Here are two reasons why this is an important step:

  • Every kitchen appliance is different. Local laws and internet guides can give you an idea of what’s safe or not. But, there are so many different appliances out there. It would be impossible to make a list of what you can and can’t do for each one. The user’s guide will state if it is safe to use your appliance in a joint circuit.
  • You must know how many amps are in your circuit. Your user guide will be able to tell you how many amps your appliance uses. With that information, you can check the maximum amp allowance for your circuit. If two appliances would exceed that limit, it would be best to put them on separate circuits.

But remember! Looking at the user manual is important. But, your final decision should always be in harmony with your local electrical code.

You Live in an Old Home

The age of your home will also have an impact on whether you can share a circuit with your microwave and fridge. But what are some of the differences between modern and old houses and their kitchens? Take a look below.

Modern Houses Older Houses
  • The kitchen wiring is designed for modern electrical appliances.
  • They normally have seven or eight circuits in the kitchen.
  • The large appliances like the hood and dishwasher are all on separate circuits.
  • The kitchen wiring is normally undersized for modern electrical appliances.
  • They normally have two or three electrical circuits in the kitchen.
  • The large appliances like the hood and dishwasher often share a circuit.
  • The wiring systems are allowed to stay in place if you do minor remodeling.
  • If you do major remodeling you may be obliged by law to bring your kitchen in line with your local electrical code.

In comparison with modern homes, older houses come with few electrical circuits. So, large electrical items often end up sharing a circuit.

If you live in an older home, you may have no choice but to put more than one large electrical item on a shared circuit. And the likelihood is that you can do this without invalidating your insurance. You will also no doubt have an exemption from your local electrical code. But, it would be good to check your insurance and electrical code before you do any remodeling.

Why Can a Microwave and Fridge Combo Be Risky?

Many appliances in your kitchen are big on electricity consumption. Here is a list of the juiciest electricity drainers in yours:

  1. Microwave
  2. Refrigerator and freezer combo
  3. Electric oven
  4. Hood
  5. Dishwasher
  6. Coffee maker

So, let’s restate that question. Why can a microwave and fridge combo be risky? As you can see from the list, they are both massive electricity consumers. And having two big consumers on one electrical circuit can be a bit of a gamble. 

You may be wondering if it’s so risky, then why do so many people do it? 

Now, the good thing about a microwave is that it spends most of its life not in use. Although it surges a lot of power when used, that will only be for a few minutes a day. So, the time that your microwave is dependent on your electrical circuit is small.

But the problem isn’t with how much time you use your microwave a day. It is the combination of microwave use with your fridge cycle. You see, your fridge also has times throughout the day where it is just ticking over, not using much energy. But when it goes through a cooling cycle, and the motors begin to whirl, it starts to consume a lot of energy.

So, if your fridge just so happens to be on cycle at the same time you’re defrosting a massive turkey in the microwave, you could have a problem.

Conclusion

Deciding whether your microwave and fridge should be on one circuit is tricky. There are so many factors to consider. These include the age of your home and the rules in your local electrical code. You also need to check your appliance’s power use and your user guide.

This article has no doubt helped you to understand more about sharing circuits.

If this article has helped you, then why not check out some of our other articles and free guides? You could even sign up to our email list!

Have a great day!

-Craig