Does a Washing Machine Need a Dedicated Circuit?

A washing machine can use an existing circuit, but there are a few considerations to take into account before making that decision.

Washing machines have powerful motors that need a certain amount of power to function correctly. Many appliances usually use a 220-volt powering system and need a specific type of circuit to prevent overloading and damage to the building’s electrical system.

A washing machine needs a dedicated circuit due to its high electricity load. The electrical system can be overheated if a washing machine is not connected to a dedicated circuit. Thus, the circuit breaker will trip, and the circuit might deteriorate.

WattageCircuit Requirements
Less than 500 wattsNo dedicated circuit required
500-1000 wattsNo dedicated circuit required
1000-1500 wattsA dedicated circuit could help
1500-2000 wattsDedicated circuit recommended
More than 2000 wattsDedicated circuit required

I’ll go into more detail below.

Why Does a Washing Machine Need a Dedicated Circuit?

Circuits that are designed to tolerate a single appliance are called dedicated circuits.

You can find such systems in laundry rooms and kitchens. It is common for dedicated circuits to be installed, among others, for fridges, washing machines, dryers, stoves, etc. They consist of separate circuits that distribute electricity to the devices listed above equal to the rest of the circuit.

Washing machines that can use up to 2200 watts and most laundry room devices (i.e., dryers) use up to 10 to 15 amps in a 15- or 20- amp circuit. That makes a dedicated circuit necessary for the electrical system’s overloading prevention. 

Generally, most appliances that use 1000 watts or higher need a dedicated circuit. It also depends on the amount of time a device will be operating.

What Kind of Outlet Does a Washing Machine Need?

neutral, live, and ground wire diagram
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Heavy equipment such as washing machines come with specific requirements to operate safely.

Since they can use up to 2200 watts in a 15- or 20- amp circuit, it is rational to use a 220-volt outlet. The outlet should connect to a dedicated circuit. The plug should consist of three prongs. The two prongs are to receive and send away the electrical current and urge the device to operate. The third prong (i.e., the rounded one) helps with the grounding of the washing machine. The grounding prevents the machine from blowing up in case of an electricity shortage.

Thus, the washing machine should connect to a 220-volt, dedicated outlet with three prongs.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Receptacle Outlet for the Washing Machine

ground fault circuit interrupter outlet
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A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle outlet is a device that prevents people from shocks that derive from the electrical system’s faults.

Their function includes shutting the circuit in case of an imbalance between its conductors. They are often installed in rooms with high moisture levels and generally water existence. Such places are laundry rooms.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) explains that adding GFCI outlets in laundry rooms is needed.

However, the National Electrical Code doesn’t specify devices requiring a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacle outlet. Nevertheless, it is wise to add one when you renovate the laundry room.

Wrapping Up

Washing machines can easily overload your electrical system and trip the breaker due to the large amperage that they use.

You can install a dedicated circuit for the washing machine to prevent such a case. You can also add a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacle to ensure that you won’t receive any shocks when there is an electrical shortage.

The National Electric Code recommends dedicated circuits and GFCI outlets to amplify security in rooms with high chances of contact between the electrical system and water, such as the laundry room.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

Video References

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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