Can A Microwave Be Plugged Into Any Outlet? (Explained)
Last Updated on November 20th, 2022 - By Steve
Because microwaves come in different sizes and models, you may wonder if you can use them with just any circuit outlet or if it requires a dedicated outlet.
Plugging heavy-duty appliances into low-energy circuits can cause a circuit breaker, overheating, or power spikes that could start a fire.
Sharing a dedicated circuit with several heavy-duty appliances can also cause similar damages.
To prevent this, you must know whether your appliance requires a regular or dedicated circuit.
A microwave requires a dedicated 20A circuit with a 12/2 NM wire with ground. Plugging it into lower current capacity circuits is risky and can lead to circuit break, overheating, or power spikes. Before plugging in a newly purchased microwave or if you need clarification with the requirements of the one you currently use, please consult your owner’s manual.
In this article, I will answer and explain in detail whether or not you can plug a microwave into any circuit outlet or if it requires a dedicated outlet.
I will also answer if you can plug a microwave into an extension socket.
Can You Plug a Microwave into a Regular Wall Outlet?
No, you should not plug a microwave into any regular wall outlet.
If you wish, you can change circuit locations for a smaller, less energy-consuming microwave since they don’t draw much power.
But, for microwaves that use an equivalent of 1500 watts or more, it is non-negotiable that you have a dedicated circuit for their use. Doing this will prevent circuit breaks or power surges in the future.
Below are reasons why you should not use a regular wall outlet for microwaves with energy capacity above 1500 watts:
To Avoid Overheating
Plugging in a high-energy-consuming microwave to a regular wall circuit can damage the circuit breaker and cause overheating.
Overheating, in turn, can lead to a fire outbreak when not taken care of immediately. When the circuit breaker in a wall circuit breaks, it also tends to damage the microwave itself.
But you could avoid all this by using 20A circuits for microwaves with energy consumption larger than 1500 watts.
To Prevent Damage to Other Electrical Appliances
Sharing a wall circuit with different electrical appliances is unsafe.
When more than one heavy-duty electrical appliance draws power from one circuit, the system tends to overload and cause a circuit break.
This result is very bad because overloading can damage several components within the electrical appliance that were formerly in perfect condition.
The damaged parts will then need replacement or repairs adding unnecessary costs to the owner. There is also the risk of a fire outbreak if the electrical appliance overheats.
Use a dedicated wall outlet for your microwave and other heavy-duty electrical appliances to prevent this.
Below is a table that highlights the amp-circuit requirement for a few electrical appliances:
|Electrical Appliance||Amp-circuit Requirement|
|Washing machine||20 Amps|
|Plasma Television||3-7 Amps|
|Electric Iron||10 Amps|
The highlighted amp-circuit requirements are mostly for heavy-duty electrical appliances.
It is important to note that a dedicated circuit does not mean a special circuit. A dedicated circuit is a circuit used solely by one electrical appliance.
Any circuit in your home can serve as a dedicated circuit so long as it has the necessary amp requirement for any electrical appliance you use on it.
Can You Plug a Microwave into a Non-grounded Outlet?
No, you should not plug a microwave into a non-grounded outlet.
You can expose yourself and the electrical appliance to several hazards, like power surges, if you plug your microwave into a non-grounded outlet.
A well-grounded outlet is important because it acts as a failsafe in case the circuit shorts and prevents shock when people come in contact with it.
Non-grounded outlets can cause sparks when electricity fluctuates, inflicting damage to any electrical appliance connected to it and possibly triggering a fire.
A major hazard with non-grounded outlets is electrocuting anyone who mistakenly comes in contact with it after it shorts.
The reason is the absence of the third hole (ground hole) that adequately prevents this from happening.
Should You Plug a Microwave into a GFCI?
Yes, you should, especially if your microwave is close to water sources or wet areas that can increase the risk of electrocution.
Consider a GFCI as a safety precaution to protect users from electrical power outbursts.
You can still choose not to use a GFCI with your microwave; however, it is considered best practice if you do so.
Even if the microwave is not within water sources or wet regions, you can still use a GFCI as a precautionary measure.
The GFCI can also act as a dedicated circuit since it protects and prevents the electrical appliance and the user from electrocution or electrical damage.
GFCI is a great alternative for a dedicated circuit since it is inexpensive and can be built into a power cord or installed in your electrical system.
Does a Microwave Need a Dedicated Circuit?
It depends on the wattage consumption of the microwave. Smaller microwaves with low energy consumption or energy capacity of fewer than 1500 watts might not need a dedicated circuit.
However, heavy-duty microwaves or microwaves with an energy capacity that exceeds 1500 watts require a dedicated circuit.
Small countertop microwaves usually don’t require a dedicated circuit due to their size and low wattage requirements. But almost all built-in microwaves must have a dedicated circuit.
The size of the microwave or whether or not it is built-in or countertop is not what determines its energy requirement and capacity.
Whenever in doubt, you can confirm your microwave’s energy requirement directly from the owner’s manual.
Can You Plug a Microwave into an Extension Socket?
No, it is unsafe to plug a microwave into an extension socket. The reason is that the wattage of a microwave far exceeds the energy capacity of a regular extension socket.
If you use a microwave with an extension socket, there is the danger of overloading, which can trigger a fire outbreak and potentially damage your microwave completely.
Plugging your microwave into a well-grounded dedicated circuit is still the best alternative to plugging it into an extension socket.
Overloading aside, the voltage drop alone can damage the microwave.
The extension socket’s low voltage and the electrical appliance’s high amperage can drastically reduce the microwave’s lifespan.
If you must use an extension socket, there are a few things you must consider, they include
Rated Wattage for the Extension
The extension you purchase must meet the energy requirements of the particular microwave you intend to use with it.
If the rated wattage of the extension is lower than that of the microwave, do not use it.
The extension socket must have the three holes that make a grounded circuit. Do not attempt plugging a microwave into a non-grounded extension socket.
The thicker the extension wire (gauge), the higher the amperage it can carry. Gauge measurements range from Light duty to extra heavy duty.
The heavier-duty gauges carry higher amperages.
Can a Microwave Share an Outlet?
Yes, microwaves that use less than 10-20 amps can safely share outlets with other electrical appliances.
Can an Outlet Cause GFCI to Trip?
No, an outlet shouldn’t cause the GFCI to trip. If the GFCI does trip, then there most likely is a problem with the outlet itself.
Does a Countertop Microwave Need to Be on GFCI?
No, not always. However, it is best practice to use microwaves with GFCI where necessary.
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