Having a microwave in your kitchen can be an absolute lifesaver when you are in a rush and want to grab a quick bite, or are simply looking to reheat some of yesterday’s leftovers.
True, smaller kitchens may have a bit of trouble accommodating a microwave, as it’s not actually micro, is it? Luckily, you can put the microwave on top of the fridge and save yourself some space, but the question you will ask yourself is undoubtedly: can you plug the microwave into an extension cord?
We are all probably aware of the fact that large appliances are best plugged into wall sockets. But is a microwave even a large appliance? Will using an extension cord be a fire hazard?
Can You Plug a Microwave Into an Extension Cord?
While you can plug a microwave into a heavy duty extension cord, this is not advisable, as it can trip your circuit breaker or blow a fuse. If you do plug it into an extension cord, make sure it is grounded and able to carry enough power.
Microwaves are best plugged into their own grounded wall sockets. However, as microwave cords are notoriously short, you may need to reach for an extension cord, depending on the size and layout of your kitchen.
Whether you have a 900- or a 1100-watt microwave, or a microwave of any other wattage for that matter, you need to purchase the right type of extension cord. It needs to be as short as possible, have the right gauge and the right wattage, and be properly grounded.
Also make sure the microwave is the only appliance you plug into said extension cord, as overloading it may cause all kinds of issues, the worst of which is a fire.
Can You Plug a Microwave Into Any Outlet?
Yes, you can plug a microwave into any outlet, as long as it has the right wattage and is grounded. You shouldn’t experience any problems.
You are most likely aiming for a 120-volt, 20-amp, three-prong grounded outlet. Plugging your microwave into an ungrounded outlet can lead to an electric shock if there is a malfunction.
As long as you meet these requirements, the microwave will be fine in any outlet, even including an extension cord, if it ticks some other boxes as well.
What Kind of Outlet Do I Need for a Microwave?
A microwave needs an outlet that has the right wattage and is grounded. Otherwise, the cord may overheat, start to melt or even cause a fire.
You are looking for a circuit that has 120/125-volts and a dedicated 20 amps. You also need to make sure it is grounded, and that it is in perfect working order.
Can a Regular Outlet Handle a Microwave?
Yes, a regular outlet can handle a microwave, provided that it’s grounded, of the right wattage and that it’s working properly.
Ideally, you want a dedicated 20-amp outlet that has 120/125-volts. It also needs to be grounded, so you are looking for a three-prong outlet.
Do Microwaves Need a Dedicated Circuit?
Microwaves work best with a dedicated circuit, but it’s not always a necessity. Depending on your model, you may or may not need to set aside a circuit for the microwave only.
Your local electric code may require you to place the microwave on its own circuit. As microwaves use a lot of power, they can trip a circuit breaker if they are plugged in with too many other devices.
If you are using an extension cord, always keep an eye on the microwave to make sure the circuit is not overloaded. Said extension cord also needs to provide a dedicated 20 amps, in order for your microwave to operate safely.
So, while you can use a microwave with an extension cord and a dedicated circuit, just like you can plug a fridge into an extension cord, it needs to be the right type and kind.
How to Choose an Extension Cord for Your Microwave
There are several factors to bear in mind when purchasing an extension cord for your microwave. They include:
Extension Cord Rated Wattage
Make sure that the wattage you demand from an extension cord is something it can actually provide. Never plug an appliance with a higher wattage into an extension cord that can’t support it, as you could start a fire.
Check the microwave’s rated wattage on the label on the back. You can also find it online in the user manual, if you’ve removed the label for whatever reason.
Extension Cord Current Rating
You also need to check the current rating of the extension cord. You are ideally looking for one that has 15 or 20 amperes. The higher the current rating, the safer it will be to plug your microwave into the extension cord.
The current rating will also match the gauge of your extension cord, i.e. the lower the gauge, the better the extension cord, as it will support more amperes. This is what you are aiming for.
Extension Cord Plug
The extension cord you plug a microwave into needs to be a grounded three-prong one. The third pin, also called the grounding pin, is what will protect you from electrocution.
Should something happen, the pin will deliver all the excess electricity into the ground. Without this pin, the electricity would travel into the metal of the microwave, and shock you if you were to touch it.
Extension Cord Length
As an extension cord gets longer, its capacity to carry a current gets lower. In order to reduce this resistance and limit voltage drops, you need to get a short and thick extension cord that resembles the cord of your microwave.
Possible Dangers of Plugging a Microwave Into an Extension Cord
Were you to plug your microwave into the wrong kind of extension cord, you could cause a fire, or cause a voltage drop that will damage your microwave.
Microwaves have short, thick cords because they need a lot of power. Most microwaves will go past 1000 watts, which is not something just any extension cord can provide. Most of them have lighter gauges, which aren’t able to transport the power needed to operate the microwave.
When you plug a microwave into the wrong extension cord, it can overheat and quickly catch fire. This is why your safest option is either a grounded wall socket, or a high quality heavy duty extension cord.
Another reason microwaves have such short wires is because longer wires provide more electrical resistance. The longer a wire, the more voltage drops there will be along the way.
The drops will eventually damage your microwave, so always aim for the shortest possible cord you can get your hands on.
How to Safely Plug a Microwave Into an Extension Cord?
When plugging a microwave into an extension cord, make sure the plugs are secure, that you have bought the right extension cord that can handle the load, and don’t overload it. Regularly check that it is still operating properly.
Plug both the extension cord into the wall and the microwave into the extension cord securely and fully. Before you do so, check to see you have bought an extension cord with the right current rating and wattage, and that it is as short as reasonable.
From time to time, check the extension cord to make sure the cords are not fraying, or that it has not been otherwise damaged.
Aim to plug only one appliance into the extension cord you are using for the microwave. While you can plug a mini fridge into an extension cord too, overloading your circuit is a fire hazard.
Wrapping It Up
Provided that you choose the right extension cord and adhere to all safety regulations, you can plug a microwave into it. Remember there are things you should never put in a microwave, extension cord or not. Clean it regularly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it lasts you a long time.