Which Extension Cord For A Refrigerator?

  • By: Carl Adams
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Keeping your food cold and your ice cream frozen requires a reliable refrigerator. But what if the power outlet is just out of reach? Extension cords seem like an easy solution, yet choosing the right one for your refrigerator can be a challenge. So, which extension cord is best for a refrigerator?

The ideal extension cord for a refrigerator is a three prong 12 gauge heavy-duty cord. This gauge can handle the power needs of most refrigerators. The third prong ensures grounding, adding an extra layer of safety against electric shocks and potential fires.

Armed with this knowledge, let’s explore further. We’ll uncover why your refrigerator’s power needs influence your choice of extension cord and delve into other key parameters like gauge and length. 

We’ll also consider the crucial safety aspect of three-prong plugs. Additionally, we’ll shed light on common mistakes to avoid and offer helpful safety tips. If distance is an issue, don’t worry—we’ve got alternative solutions. 

Understanding Your Refrigerator’s Power Needs

Every refrigerator, from the smallest mini-fridge to the largest side-by-side model, requires electricity. The amount of energy your fridge uses varies greatly. It could be as little as 100 watts for a small one, or as much as 800 watts for larger models. The wattage is a clear measure of the energy your refrigerator uses to keep your food fresh and your drinks cool.

In addition to the running wattage, there’s another value to be aware of – the surge wattage. What is refrigerator surge wattage?

Refrigerator surge wattage refers to the extra burst of power the appliance requires at startup. It’s typically higher than the running wattage. This initial power spike allows the refrigerator’s compressor to kick-start, hence the term “surge wattage”.

As mentioned above, this is the extra power your fridge uses when it first kicks into action. It’s usually higher than the running wattage. Imagine it like this: your fridge needs an extra push to get the cooling cycle started. This push is the surge wattage.

You might ask yourself, why does knowing the power needs of your refrigerator matter? The answer is straightforward. It helps you to select the most suitable extension cord. The wrong extension cord may not meet your fridge’s power needs. This could lead to safety hazards, like overheating. Knowing your fridge’s power needs allows you to select the most compatible extension cord.

The Role of Extension Cords

Let’s talk about extension cords now. An extension cord is a flexible cable. It can link your fridge to a power source that’s not close by. It’s like a bridge between your fridge and the power outlet.

You should choose an extension cord that can handle your fridge’s wattage. If you don’t, the cord may overheat. It could even cause a fire.

Extension cords come in different sizes and types. The size of the wire, or gauge, is key. A lower gauge number means a thicker wire. Thicker wires can handle more wattage.

When it comes to refrigerators, heavy-duty extension cords are your best bet. These cords have a lower gauge number. They can handle the power needs of most fridges.

Now, you understand the power needs of your fridge. You also know the role of extension cords. Next time, you will be ready to pick the right extension cord for your refrigerator.

Refrigerator Extension Cord Gauge and Length

Gauge refers to the thickness of the wires inside an extension cord. It’s a critical factor in deciding the amount of electric current the cord can safely carry. A cord with a lower gauge number has a thicker wire. Thicker wires carry more electric current.

The length of the extension cord also plays a key role. The longer the cord, the harder it is for electricity to move through it. This can cause a drop in voltage and an increase in heat, leading to potential safety hazards.

So, what’s the ideal gauge and length for a refrigerator extension cord? Most experts recommend a 14 gauge, heavy-duty cord for most fridges. The cord should be no longer than 25 feet to prevent a drop in voltage and avoid overheating.

Three-Prong Plugs: Safety First

When it comes to powering your refrigerator, three-prong plugs are your safest choice. But why is that? Why are three prong extension cords safer?

Three-prong extension cords are safer due to the inclusion of a grounding wire. This third prong directs any surplus electricity safely into the ground, minimizing the risk of electrical shocks and potential fires. It’s a crucial safety feature, especially for larger appliances.

As mentioned above, the third prong on these plugs is the ground prong. It directs any extra electric current safely into the ground. This reduces the risk of electric shocks and fires.

A refrigerator is a hefty piece of equipment. It can pull in a large amount of power, especially during startup. Having that third prong adds an extra layer of protection for you and your home. It ensures that any unexpected surges of electricity have a safe path to follow. With a three-prong plug, you can power your refrigerator safely and securely.

Rating Labels on Extension Cords

Rating labels on extension cords are more than just numbers and letters. They offer crucial information. They tell you about the cord’s electrical capabilities and safety certifications. The rating label often displays the wire gauge, the amperage, and the wattage capacity of the cord.

In simple terms, these labels serve as a guide. They help you choose an extension cord that meets your refrigerator’s power needs. For instance, if your fridge requires 200 watts, the label ensures you pick a cord capable of safely delivering that power.

Top Brands of Extension Cords for Refrigerators

There are many brands that manufacture quality extension cords. 

Here are a few well-known ones:

  1. GE: Known for their durability, GE extension cords often come with a twist-to-lock safety cover. This feature protects unused outlets from dust and damage.
  2. Southwire: Southwire produces heavy-duty cords with a vinyl jacket. This jacket protects the cord from moisture, abrasion, and sunlight.
  3. Coleman Cable: Coleman Cable extension cords often come with a lighted end. This feature indicates when power is flowing through the cord.
  4. Woods: Woods produces extension cords with a reinforced blade. This blade helps prevent bending and breaking.

Each brand has its own unique features. These features add value to their extension cords, making them more useful and safer for your refrigerator. Remember to pick a cord that suits your fridge’s power needs and the layout of your home.

Common Mistakes in Choosing Extension Cords

When it comes to choosing extension cords for refrigerators, several common errors occur. 

Let’s identify them and provide tips to avoid these pitfalls:

  1. Choosing the wrong gauge: A common mistake is selecting a cord with a higher gauge number, meaning a thinner wire. Thinner wires can’t handle the power demand of most fridges. Choose a cord with a lower gauge number, which indicates a thicker wire.
  2. Picking a long cord: Some people choose cords that are too long. The longer the cord, the greater the voltage drop, and the higher the chance of overheating. Aim for cords no longer than 25 feet.
  3. Ignoring the power rating: Overlooking the power rating on extension cords can lead to overheating or fires. Always check that the power rating on the cord meets your fridge’s wattage demand.

Extension Cord Safety Tips

Extension cords are handy tools, but safety should be your top concern. Here are some tips to ensure the safe use of these cords:

  1. Check for damage: Always inspect your extension cord for signs of wear and tear. If you see any frayed wires or damaged insulation, replace the cord.
  2. Avoid water: Keep your extension cords dry. Water can lead to short circuits or even electric shocks.
  3. Don’t overload: Never plug multiple appliances into a single extension cord. This can cause the cord to overheat.
  4. Use the right plug: Always use three-prong plugs for large appliances like refrigerators. These plugs provide an extra layer of safety by grounding excess electricity.
  5. Never cover them: Don’t hide your cords under carpets or furniture. This could lead to overheating and potentially start a fire.
  6. Unplug after use: When your refrigerator is not in use, unplug the extension cord. This can help prevent accidental shocks and overheating.
  7. Proper storage: When not in use, store your extension cords in a dry place away from children and pets. This will keep them in good condition for longer.

By following these guidelines, you can prevent overheating and electrical fires, ensuring your refrigerator runs safely.

Alternative Solutions for Distance Issues

Sometimes, the distance between your refrigerator and the nearest outlet is too great. While extension cords can bridge this gap, they aren’t always the best solution. So, what can you do?

One great alternative is to hire an electrician to install a new outlet closer to your refrigerator. An expert can safely add a new outlet, eliminating the need for an extension cord. This means no more worries about gauge, length, or overheating.

Another option is to reconfigure your kitchen layout. If possible, move your refrigerator closer to an existing outlet. This not only solves your power problem but could also improve the flow and function of your kitchen.

Remember, safety comes first. It’s better to consider these options than risk using an inappropriate extension cord. With the right solution, you can power your refrigerator safely and conveniently.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of gauge in extension cords?

In extension cords, gauge refers to the thickness of the wires inside. Lower gauge numbers indicate thicker wires. Thicker wires can handle more electrical current, which is crucial for power-hungry appliances like refrigerators.

Why is the length of the extension cord significant?

The length of the extension cord affects its performance. Electricity has to work harder to move through a longer cord. This can cause a voltage drop and can increase heat, which may lead to safety hazards.

How does surge wattage affect the choice of an extension cord?

Surge wattage is the extra power needed when the refrigerator starts up. This wattage is higher than the running wattage. Extension cords must be chosen with this in mind to ensure they can handle the initial power surge.

Why are three-prong plugs recommended for refrigerators?

Three-prong plugs are recommended because they are grounded. The third prong directs any surplus electric current safely into the ground, minimizing the risk of electric shocks and fires.

What are the potential dangers of using the wrong extension cord?

Using the wrong extension cord can lead to overheating, which can damage your refrigerator and potentially cause a fire. It may also lead to a voltage drop, which can affect the performance of your fridge.

What is the ideal gauge for a refrigerator extension cord?

The ideal gauge for a refrigerator extension cord is typically 14. A 14-gauge cord is thick enough to handle the power demand of most refrigerators without overheating.


In conclusion, choosing the right extension cord for your refrigerator doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By understanding your fridge’s power needs and the features of different extension cords, you can make an informed choice. Safety is paramount, so remember the tips we’ve shared. 

And if you’re still struggling with distance issues, don’t forget about our suggested alternatives. With the right knowledge, you can ensure your refrigerator runs safely, efficiently, and conveniently in your home.

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