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Sometimes there is a need to go into more details concerning your fridge, not only the volume, design and special features. How many amps does a refrigerator use?

The average refrigerator uses approximately 725 watts of electricity and 15 to 20 amps, which can equal 10 percent or more of your home’s total energy usage. To understand better you must know some technical terms.

Wattage, measured in watts, measures the rate of energy converted to electricity, usually per hour. Your own refrigerator should have come equipped with an energy consumption label, stating, at the very least, its wattage. This number can be used to determine your unit’s amperage.

Once you know your refrigerator’s wattage, you can determine its specific amperage. Amperage is equal to the wattage of the unit divided by the voltage, or: Amperage = Watts/Voltage. All American homes have a voltage of 120.

1. What amp breaker do I need for a refrigerator?

There’s a common problem in older homes. If you run too many appliances in the kitchen at the same time, you’ll short the circuit. This means every appliance and light source connected to that circuit will shut off simultaneously.

Circuit breakers interrupt the flow of electricity to specific areas of your home and are designed to protect you from overloading your electrical system. 

Electrical requirements and breaker size for refrigerators are a 115 or 120-volt individual, properly grounded branch circuit, protected by a 15 or 20 amp circuit breaker or time-delay fuse.

Refrigerators should be on a dedicated circuit and pay attention that start-up amps and wattage are usually 3 times more than running amps or watts.

The measure of the electrical current flowing through a circuit is referred to as its “amperage.” Current is measured by “amps.” To prevent a wire from overheating, you must use the correct size of wire for the amps required. A standard house circuit is typically 20 amps.

Voltage is the pressure that pushes current through an electrical wire. The two standard voltages used in the United States are 110V or 220V.

Single-Pole Circuit Breakers

These are the most common type of breaker found in a home. Single pole breakers protect a single energized wire. They supply 120 volts to a circuit and can handle 15 to 20 amps.

Double-Pole Circuit Breakers

This type of breaker protects two energized wires and occupies two slots on a breaker panel. They supply up to 240 volts to a circuit and can handle between 15 and 200 amps. Large appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and dryers require this type of breaker.

2. How many amps does a refrigerator compressor draw?

Refrigerator amps mean the amount of electrical energy used by a refrigerator compressor to cool down the compartment. For most domestic fridges, the amperage ranges between 3 and 5 in the case of 120 V. You need a dedicated 15 – 20 amp circuit as the starting amperage is significantly more. You should basically check the compressor’s consumption and the general specifications that your manufacturer gives.

3. Do I need a dedicated circuit for a refrigerator?

Planning kitchen circuitry is a critical step when designing a new home because stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, toasters and coffee makers draw significant amounts of electricity. In older homes built before the introduction of today’s advanced appliances, a single circuit was usually adequate to service all of a kitchen’s electrical needs. But when several modern cooking devices are used at once, it may cause the circuit breaker to trip. One way to eliminate that risk is to set up a separate circuit for the refrigerator.

To have your refrigerator on a dedicated circuit is recommended for its best performance and to prevent overloading house wiring circuits.

Most household refrigerators draw between 500 and 750 watts of power during routine operation. With a 110-volt current, a 750-watt appliance will require 6.8 amps to operate. The formula for converting watts to amps is Watts divided by Volts = Amps. A refrigerator will use roughly half of the available amperage of a standard 15-amp circuit, and over one-third of a 20-amp circuit.

Remember about a safety margin of 20-30%. A circuit should only carry 80 percent of its rated load during normal operation. A 15-amp circuit under these circumstances would have an actual load rating of 12 amps. With a 6.8-amp load on the circuit, the recommended working reserve capacity would be only 5.2 amps. Increasing the capacity to 20 amps will give a larger safety margin, but still, be careful. The leftover capacity of a 15 amp circuit wouldn’t probably support a microwave or toaster on this circuit while the refrigerator’s compressor is operating and it would result in a tripped circuit breaker. 

One additional argument in favor of a separate circuit for refrigerators is the risk of an unnoticed power outage. In an overload situation, the breaker will shut off power to the circuit. When this happens, the breaker must be manually reset to restore power. This will not be a significant problem if the power is only off for a few minutes. However, if the outage happens while the homeowner is away for an extended period of time, the food in the refrigerator and freezer may become warm and spoil.

4. How many amps does a 12-volt fridge draw?

On average – 5 amps. To calculate this use the formula – Watts / Volts = Amps per hour. For example, a 60-watt fridge running on a 12-volt power source uses 60 /12 = 5 amps, but only while the motor runs.

So, while planning your new kitchen or some upgrade pay attention to circuitry and your fridge amperage. 

Be safe!

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Aaron Black
Aaron Black
Hey there! My name's Aaron Black. I’m 34 and I've been repairing fridges for 15 years. As you know, some appliances may be too dangerous to fix on your own as you, and I’m here to save your time, money, and, maybe, even your life! Because I'm the man with Experience. If you have any questions, you may contact me via e-mail: [email protected]

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Brian Daly

    There’s a common problem in older homes. If you run too many appliances in the kitchen at the same time, you’ll ” short the circuit”. Don’t you mean “overload the circuit” or “trip the breaker””? Although a short SHOULD trip the breaker anyway.

  2. Ann Williams

    How big of a breaker should I put in for a stove . And what size wire should I use.

  3. Jeff

    The math doesn’t work in your opening statement “The average refrigerator uses approximately 725 watts of electricity and 15 to 20 amps…” It is better represented later in the article, however.

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