Extension cords are lifesavers at times — like when you need to plug in a lamp in the middle of the room or when your hairdryer is just out of reach of the outlet. Most of the time, we use extension cords without giving them a second thought. But can they be used for major appliances? Can you plug a fridge into an extension cord?
A fridge can be plugged into an extension cord, but it is not recommended because fridges constantly use power, which can surge from time to time. If you must use an extension cord, get a heavy-duty option with a three-pronged grounded plug and a gauge ranking of 12 or lower.
When you’re in a jam, it’s tempting to use whatever you have on hand to get the job done, but this is not always the best idea. Most extension cords are not meant for long-term or heavy use, and they can be a fire hazard if used improperly. Fridges require a lot of power to run, and if the extension cord is not up to the task, it could overheat and cause a fire. Let’s see what type of extension cord you need for your fridge and which ones are the best to use.
Can You Use an Extension Cord for Your Fridge?
Yes, technically, you can use an extension cord for your fridge. However, it’s really not the best idea. Fridges aren’t the most power-hungry appliances in your home, but they constantly draw power, and when the compressor kicks on, power usage can spike.
Most extension cords are not designed to handle that kind of load and will eventually overheat, potentially causing a fire.
If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is properly rated for the amperage your fridge draws. Common fridges draw about 5-7 amps when running and 15-20 amps at surge, so you’ll need an extension cord that is rated to at least ten gauge. If you’re not sure how much power your fridge draws, check the label on the back of the fridge.
You’ll also want to make sure you get an extension cord with a three-prong grounded plug. Always inspect the extension cord before each use and ensure there are no frayed wires or other damage that could cause a fire. If you have any doubts about the condition of the cord, don’t use it. It’s not worth risking your home and safety.
How Should You Choose the Right Extension Cord for Your Fridge?
Though extension cords aren’t the ideal solution for powering your fridge, some situations still call for their use. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s suitable for the job. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an extension cord for your fridge:
1. Check the Rating:
All extension cords have a maximum electrical rating listed in amps. This rating tells you the maximum amount of current that can safely flow through the cord. To find out how many amps your fridge draws, consult the appliance’s manual or look for a label on the back of the fridge.
Then, choose an extension cord with a rating that’s at least equal to the fridge’s amp rating; it’s usually labeled on the extension cord’s jacket.
2. Check the Wire Gauge:
If your cord doesn’t have an amps rating, look for its wire gauge — that’s a better measure of an extension cord’s capacity. The gauge rating is listed as “AWG,” followed by a number.
Gauge is related to the thickness of the wire inside the extension cord. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire — and the better the cord’s ability to carry current.
For example, a 14-gauge extension cord can only handle 12 amps, while a 12-gauge cord can handle 15 amps max. As we mentioned above, a 12-gauge extension cord is suitable for most fridges.
If your fridge has a defroster, it’ll need more power, so pick a cord with an even lower gauge.
3. Consider the Length:
The longer the cord, the more resistance it has to the current flow, and the more voltage is lost along the way. Resistance also adds to the heat the cord generates.
So, try to keep the extension cord as short as possible; it should be enough to reach the outlet and leave a bit of slack to allow you to move the fridge around if necessary.
4. Choose the Right Plug:
Fridges come with three-pronged plugs; the third prong is a ground wire that helps protect you from electrical shocks. Whenever there’s a power surge or the current flowing through the fridge is too high, the ground wire safely diverts the excess current away from the fridge.
So, make sure the extension cord you choose also has a three-pronged grounded plug and appropriate sockets to fit the fridge’s plug.
In addition to these basic considerations, always use a heavy-duty extension cord with thicker jackets to resist damage from abrasion and moisture. If you’re going to use the cord outdoors, make sure it’s rated “outdoor” and weatherproof.
Best Extension Cords for Refrigerators
Now that you know what to look for in an extension cord, here are a few of our top picks:
1. Iron Forge 25 ft.Cable SJTW
The Iron Forge Cable (on Amazon) is a 10-gauge cord and can carry 20 Amps. What makes it special is the highly temperature-resistant vinyl jacket that can withstand -40 to +140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cord is also water and abrasion-resistant, ideal for outdoor use. And the transparent plugs have light indicators to show if the power is on. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for bigger refrigerators that draw much power.
2. Lone Star Heavy Duty Extension Cord
Another 10-gauge outdoor extension cord, the Lone Star Cord (on Amazon), comes in multiple length options from 10 to 100 feet. It also has a lighted end and durable construction with a vinyl jacket to withstand extreme temperatures. Its three-pronged plug has reinforced blades to resist damage, and the cord is UL listed for safety.
3. Clear Power Extension Cord
Clear power (on Amazon) has many length and style options for this 12-gauge cord. This heavy-duty extension cord has nickel-coated brass prongs to resist corrosion, and the durable SJTW jacket makes it an excellent choice for indoor and outdoor use.
4. Amazon Basics Black Extension Cord
This 14-gauge extension cord (on Amazon) is suitable for smaller refrigerators. The black vinyl jacket is durable and flexible, making it easy to coil and store. It’s for indoor use only but has length options from 3 to 25 feet.
5. Maximm Multi-Outlet Extension Cord
This Maximm Multi-Outlet Cord (on Amazon) is an excellent choice if you need to plug in other appliances along with the fridge. This 12 gauge cord has three outlets and comes in multiple length options up to 50 feet and multiple color choices. This heavy-duty wire is listed by ETL safety, and the seller also gives a 1-year warranty.