Whether you need a dedicated circuit for a mini fridge depends on its initial and stable current draw and power requirement.
If it’s a simple, standalone mini fridge, which typically requires no more than 100 watts, it doesn’t need a dedicated circuit. You can tap into an existing circuit if the total load after plugging in the mini-fridge does not exceed its capacity. To be sure, check its current draw and power requirement and add this to the existing load to work out the total.
I’ll go through the wattage and more that you can expect a mini fridge to use below.
A mini fridge most likely doesn’t need a dedicated circuit unless it has a high-power requirement.
So, it depends on its current draw and power rating, but it would be unusual if it did, or else a special requirement. If you’re unsure what a dedicated circuit is, see below under ‘Related Questions.’
The power requirement of a mini fridge is typically between 50 and 100 watts.
The average is around 65-80 watts. However, the initial wattage when it’s first turned on could be as high as 200 watts.
Regardless, its power requirement for normal operation is low. Look for the label on its side or back to know your mini fridge’s exact manufacturer-stated power requirement.
Then add this wattage to the existing load on a circuit you’re considering sharing. Remember that you must also account for the initial current spike in your calculation. The total should not exceed that circuit’s capacity.
If you can put the mini fridge on a shared circuit, you should still not share it with any high-power appliance, such as a microwave oven.
Factors that Affect Wattage
The actual wattage your mini fridge uses depends on the following:
- How small or large it is – You can expect larger models to use more watts. The capacity of a mini fridge is usually between 1.5 and 3 cubic feet. Larger models may have up to 6 cubic feet of space.
- How old it is – You can expect older models to use more watts and newer ones to use less.
- Energy efficiency – The higher the energy efficiency, the less power it will use. Mini fridges, especially modern ones, are usually more energy efficient than full-sized fridges. Look at the energy star certificate or rating for information related to its energy efficiency.
- Amount of food – The more food you put inside your mini fridge, the harder it will have to work to keep it cool, which requires more power.
What is a dedicated circuit?
A dedicated circuit is designed to serve only a single appliance, typically a high-powered or heavy-duty one that draws a very high current or has a very high power requirement.
The NEC code also requires it for certain critical and fixed appliances, which a mini fridge usually isn’t.
Technically, it is a separate or “individual branch circuit” and is arranged to reduce the risk of overloading a circuit, tripping a breaker, and other safety reasons. Manufacturers normally state whether you need a dedicated circuit for a particular appliance.
A dedicated circuit must not be shared by any other appliance, even a light bulb or other very low-power appliance.
My mini fridge has a low power requirement. Should I still have it on a dedicated circuit? What other benefits are there?
Even if you have a mini fridge with a low power requirement, putting it on a dedicated circuit can be advantageous anyway.
For example, appliances on dedicated circuits are not connected to other appliances. If any appliance causes the circuit breaker to trip on a shared circuit will trip for the entire circuit. All the appliances on that circuit will be turned off, causing a disruption.
It’s also advisable to have a dedicated circuit if operating the mini-fridge is critical, such as for business use.
Can I plug the mini fridge into a regular outlet?
Yes. Most mini fridges made today can operate on a regular outlet. They don’t need a special outlet. The main thing to consider is the load on the circuit, which is what this article was about.
Can I plug my mini fridge into a power strip?
Although you probably can (because it doesn’t draw too much power), it’s not recommended. Besides, power strips don’t usually protect from surges and spikes. Use a regular outlet when you can.
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