Can You Plug a Fridge Into an Extension Cord?

When buying a new fridge, remodelling your kitchen or moving, you may find that your fridge’s cord has suddenly become too short. Do you then consider placing the fridge somewhere closer to a wall socket, or can you perhaps plug it into an extension cord? 

Whichever option you choose, remember not to lay your refrigerator on its side for an extended period of time while you try to find the right angle, as it may damage the compressor.  

As for the extension cord, here’s what you need to know: 

Can You Plug a Fridge Into an Extension Cord?

While you should try not to plug your fridge into an extension cord, you should use a grounded extension cord with a three-prong plug if you can’t avoid it. 

As for the amperage you require, always check the user manual of your specific refrigerator to make sure you find an extension cord with the appropriate rating. 

Extension cords with a lower gauge number (10 or 12 for example) are considered to be heavy duty, as they have a higher capacity for delivering power. This makes them a good choice for appliances that require a lot of power, like your fridge. 

Make sure to also consider the length of your extension cord. Shorter ones will be a better option for your fridge, as there will be fewer voltage drops. 

Note that if you have a no-frost refrigerator you should never plug it into an extension cord, as it will require a lot more power to melt the frost, which the extension cord won’t be able to deliver. 

When Should You Plug a Fridge Into an Extension Cord?

Plug your fridge into an extension cord when plugging it into a wall socket is inconvenient and would require you to significantly shift the layout of your kitchen.

While the extension cord may also come with other outlets, try not to use it for any other appliances, no matter how convenient that may seem, Overloading even a heavy duty extension cord can lead to it short circuiting, and may even cause a fire. 

If you can, aim to install more wall sockets in your kitchen rather than using several extension cords for your major appliances. Also check which appliances need their separate circuits. 

How to Choose an Extension Cord for Your Fridge 

When buying an extension cord specifically for your fridge, this is what you need to consider:

  • Always purchase a heavy duty gauge with thick wires
  • Only buy a three-prong grounded extension cord 
  • Choose an extension cord with short wires to minimise the load on the current
  • The wattage rating of the extension cord should be compatible with that of the fridge

Extension Cord Gauge 

The gauge of an extension cord refers to the thickness of the wire. The lower the gauge number, the higher the gauge – a bit counter-intuitive, I know. 

Aim for the lowest gauge number you can get your hands on. 

Type of Extension CordGauge NumberAmperage 
Light Duty167A
Medium Duty1412A
Heavy Duty1216A
Extra Heavy Duty1020A

Extension Cord Length 

The longer the extension cord, the lower its capacity to carry a current. In other words, a shorter cord will come with the lowest possible voltage drops, and be the best possible choice for your fridge.

Make sure there is some slack in it, as you don’t want the extension cord to be tight at all times. 

Extension Cord Rated Wattage 

Always check what the rated wattage of the extension cord is. Never go above it, as overloading it can cause a fire. 

Also check your fridge’s rated wattage (usually found on the back or in the manual) to make sure you get the right extension cord.

Extension Cord Plug 

The extension cord you buy needs to be a three-prong grounded one, as the fridge already has a three-prong grounded plug. 

The third pin is your grounding pin. In case of an emergency, it will deliver all the excess electricity to the ground, preventing a fire or other damage. Never remove this pin. Were you to remove it, all the excess electricity would be sent to the next best conductor, in this case the metal body of the fridge. 

Were you to touch it, you would get electrocuted. 

Safety Concerns When Plugging a Fridge Into an Extension Cord

The wrong extension cord may overheat and cause a fire or an electric shock if you plug your fridge into it. The plastic will also start to melt, which you will luckily be able to smell, hopefully on time. 

Even an ungrounded three-prong extension cord can be a fire hazard, as can plugging two appliances into the same extension cord. If you don’t consider the combined needs of both, your extension cord can quickly get damaged. 

Always choose the best three-prong grounded extension cord that matches the needs of your fridge. 

Potential Dangers of Plugging a Fridge Into an Extension Cord

Appliances that require a lot of power should be plugged into wall sockets whenever possible. Unless you use a heavy duty grounded extension cord, you may be running the following risks: 

Fire Hazard 

Wall sockets usually contain much thicker wires than extension cords. This makes the latter more of a fire hazard, as they may not be able to deliver the amount of power the appliances plugged into them require. 

As your fridge will be plugged in at all times, the extensive use can also be the reason an extension cord is overloaded. 

Damage to Your Fridge 

The thinner wires of an extension cord are of great resistance to the current that passes through them. This can be exacerbated by the extra length of the wire. This increase in resistance can then lead to a drop in voltage, which can in turn affect the fridge’s compressor and damage it over time.

Damage to the Wiring of the Extension Cord 

Extension cords are not covered, so the wires in them are partly exposed to the environment. This may result in tearing, spillage or other damage, which can cause them to malfunction.

Wrapping It Up 

While you can plug your refrigerator into an extension cord, remember that if you put a microwave on top of the fridge you also need to ensure they are on different circuits more often than not. 

Clean your fridge regularly to ensure the food you store in it remains fresh as long as possible, and don’t leave the fridge door open to prevent damage and spoilage.  

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