The number of amps a refrigerator draws affects how you set up your electrical system and how much extra load you can put on a circuit breaker. It makes no difference if the electrical installation is in your home or your RV.
A breaker trip or some devices can blow a fuse if an electric circuit is overloaded, especially if using an extension cord.
However, it can also lead to a short circuit, which leads to several issues like fires, damaged electrical installations, and damaged equipment.
According to experts and the United States Department of Energy, with most refrigerators, 15 or 20 amp and roughly 700 watts of energy.
You’ll also find that 16 to 20 cubic feet are the best size for an energy-efficient refrigerator yet remember accessories like ice makers and water dispensers reduce the efficiency of a home’s fridge. (Learn How Much Does A Fridge Weigh)
In our guide, you can learn more about amperage ranges, circuit breakers, and how much draw the average refrigerator pulls from the wall.
By the end, you can use all this to make sure your energy-efficient fridge ends up and a separate circuit and won’t drastically increase your power costs.
Can a Refrigerator Be On a 15 Amp Circuit?
The recommended best practice for homes is to have the refrigerator on its dedicated circuit rather than the same circuit as other power-hungry appliances.
Most refrigerators use 3 to 6 amps; but, at peak use, and a refrigerator can use up to 15 amps.
Taking the worst-case scenario, and you should make sure your refrigerators and freezers are connected to a dedicated 120-volt circuit rated at 15-20 amps.
This prevents electrical overload if your current wiring can’t handle the additional power and electrical energy needed to power them. No matter what part of your home, refrigerators, and freezers need to be on a dedicated 120-volt circuit breaker connection.
How Many Amps Does a Refrigerator Use on Startup?
Its size determines the starting amperage of a refrigerator. Larger refrigerators cool more but require larger compressors.
And the compressor is the most power-hungry component of a typical refrigerator. Aside from the compressor, a fridge’s light bulb consumes electricity, but only when the door is open. Energy Star ratings show a more economical running than ones not rated. Nowadays, most household refrigerators have a rating.
Most modern refrigerators are rated between 3 and 6 amps; however, the range is between 1 and 15 amps depending on size and compressor power requirements.
Knowing a fridge’s compressor wattage makes calculating its amperage and electrical current used a breeze. Divide the amperage of household fridges by the voltage. For instance, a 480-watt fridge uses 4 amps on 120 volts.
But figuring out your refrigerator’s wattage and compressor demand can be challenging.
Here are some examples:
- A 15+ cu ft refrigerator use will use around 6 to 7 amps.
- A smaller refrigerator/ freezer will use around 1 amp.
- A small wine fridge will use around 20 amp breaker.
Manufacturers rarely comment too much on energy consumption in the documentation. Yet, they boast figures of annual power consumption savings that can be misleading because of how a refrigerator cycles.
The start-up wattage is dictated by the locked rotor amperage of the compressor and is higher than what your fridge can pull in use.
Some appliances require extra power and start-up amps to start. On average, a family refrigerator uses 15 amps to start up.
Most domestic fridges start at roughly 800-1200 watt-hours/day and run at around 150 watt-hours/day.
A Mini fridge use will be around 2 amps and then use between 80 and 100 watts per hour.
How many amps does a refrigerator compressor draw? Refrigerator amps are the amount of electricity used to cool a refrigerator’s compartment. The compressor of a modern refrigerator consumes 3 to 5 amps at 120 volts and now needs a dedicated circuit.
Does a Fridge Need a 20 Amp Circuit?
When looking at how many amperes does a refrigerator use. Newer refrigerator models will need a dedicated 20-amp, 120/125-volt circuit.
Older refrigerators and appliances should be connected to a dedicated 120/125-volt circuit during substantial remodeling to reduce the risk of a short circuit and fire hazard.
Wiring this dedicated 20-amp circuit requires 12/2 NM wire with the ground to cover the refrigerator’s compressor consumption. In addition, the compressor’s consumption won’t reach the limit of the circuit as there is more energy available to help avoid the breaker tripping. A refrigerator running uses roughly half of a 15-amp circuit’s available amperage and over a third of a 20-amp electric current circuit.
Unless the outlet is within 6 feet of a sink or in a garage or basement, this circuit requires AFCI protection and must comply with local electrical codes.
Older fridges may not fall inside these regs as the appliance uses less power.
How Many Amps Does a Medium Size Refrigerator Use?
When diagnosing a refrigerator’s compressor of the amps drawn, comparing the expected and actual results is necessary.
This is because the appliance compressor’s power draw is more likely to be mentioned than its current draw. You can also find the temperature setpoint is higher than it needs to be.
A clamp meter is the easiest approach to monitor other appliances and your fridge of their running amps and power draw. (Learn How Long Does Squash Last In The Fridge)
Add a break-out cord between the refrigerator and the wall outlet to use it.
Disconnect the refrigerator from the wall and shine a flashlight on the compressor. The compressor’s identification tag should state the power it draws. The average refrigerator draws 725 watts, according to the DOE.
To determine how many amperes does a refrigerator use, divide the figure by 120 volts and the power supply voltage. A 725-watt refrigerator draws 6 amps (725/120).
Unplug the refrigerator cord, connect it to a break-out cord, and reconnect it to the receptacle. Unsheathed wires in a break-out cord allow for easy access. Still insulated.
Set a clamp meter to read the current-voltage and set the sensitivity to 40 amps.
Clamp the jaws on the break-out cord’s black wire. Please wait for the refrigerator to cycle on and note the fridge voltage, amps, and other readings it offers.
Things You Need
- Break-out cord
- Clamp meter
Plug a refrigerator into a watt-hour meter and the meter into the receptacle to get an estimate of how much electricity and how many amperes it uses over time.
The meter displays how much power the appliance is using and maintains track of how much power it has used since you hooked it in. Note that if your refrigerator is located in a warm environment, it will use more energy to keep cold air.