Refrigerator outlet-- move or add another?

quandaryMay 26, 2009

I am installing an undercabinet coffee maker in the cabinet next to my refrigerator. The coffee maker is so deep, that there won't be room to plug in the coffee maker or can opener in the backsplash outlet.

It is right next to the refrigerator, but that outlet is too low on the wall to reach from the coffee maker. If I raise that outlet, I could still pull the refrigerator out far enough to unplug it (fridge cord is pretty long) and also use that outlet for the coffee maker. The can opener can be plugged into the coffee maker.

Should the refrigerator have its own outlet -- would it overload it to add the coffee maker and can opener?

Rather than relocate the refrigerator outlet, could I just add another outlet straight up the wall from it using the same wiring?

Why do my projects always become so complicated?

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Ron Natalie

Nothing typically absolutely requires a dedicated circuit for the fridge, but most of us think it's a pretty good idea.

Anyhow, to answer your question. If you're going to install an outlet for the coffee maker, you might as well leave the old one. You're going to have to leave the box there (with at least a blank cover) anyhow to make the junction.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 7:21AM
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Thanks, ronnatalie, for the quick and helpful response!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 9:08AM
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It strikes me that the issue here may not be a matter of one receptacle or two, but whether you'll overload the circuit with a coffee maker plus a refrigerator.

I have no idea what kind of coffee maker this is or how much current it draws, but I do know that many coffee makers pull quite a bit of current--sometimes in the neighborhood of 1600-1800W.

If your refrigerator is on its own 15-amp circuit (not uncommon), the coffee maker alone may eat up most of the juice on that circuit. When the coffee maker is on and the refrigerator motor starts, the breaker trips. You get the picture. And having two receptacles instead of one won't make any difference.

Frankly, I think there's an excellent chance you will overload the circuit with that combination--if not always, then sometimes.

It'd help to know the size of the circuit (i.e., whether it's a 15- or 20-amp breaker) and the faceplate wattage of the coffee maker.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 11:47AM
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Rather than try to use techinical terms and possibly misstate the facts, I'm going to side with simple descriptions, exposing my ignorance.

The grey box in the garage has a black switch with "20" on it. That switch controls only the refrigerator outlet and another kitchen counter outlet which I do occasionally use for a mixer, blender or food processor. The second outlet is NOT the outlet I will be effectively blocking with the new coffeemaker. In other words, I think adding another outlet (for coffeemaker and can opener) above the refrigerator outlet will indeed add more burden to that circuit than I've been using.

The sticker on the new coffeemaker (Black & Decker Spacemaker) shows 120V-60Hz 900W. The coffeemaker has a convenience receptacle on the back where you can plug in another spacemaker appliance (i.e. can opener). This convenience receptable shows a warning of 100W max load. I assume that any additional appliance up to 100W should be added to the 900W stated on the coffeemaker, so up to 1000W?

I can't find the wattage of the refrigerator, but the plate states 60HZ / 1 PHASE /115V.

Thanks so much for your patience and help.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 12:19PM
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"Thanks so much for your patience and help."

Not at all. You're welcome.

All good news, I'd say. Sounds like that's a 20 amp circuit and, at 900W, the coffee maker maker isn't one of the really big energy pigs.

Assuming your refrigerator is average size and not too old (e.g., not much more 20 years), the frige and coffee maker should be able to coexist on the same circuit.

A 20-amp circuit, BTW, can deliver up to 2400W, so you don't have a great deal of extra power to spare. If you're brewing coffee and running, say, the food processor on the other countertop receptacle when the frige starts up, it's still possible you'd trip a breaker but other than that, you should be OK.

As for that "convenience receptacle" on the coffee maker, I wouldn't use it for much of anything. Oh, I suppose you could plug in a cell phone charger or cordless phone base or something like that with a very minimal draw, but they're nearly worthless for feeding a typical countertop appliance.

[As an aside, the worst thing about sharing a circuit with a refrigerator is that if the breaker does happen to trip, you may not notice it right away in which case your food might thaw and/or spoil. That's the main reason a dedicated circuit is prefered although, as Ron said, it isn't mandatory.]

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 1:30PM
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You should be alright, but there is one other thing to consider. If you're one of those people (like me) who orders a couple hundred dollars worth of meat from the butcher and puts it in your freezer, you might want to consider spending a little bit of money on an electrician to run out a new circuit, think of it as a guarantee. Or you could always do it yourself if you want to save money and learn something new.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 4:43PM
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I hadn't even thought of an undetected breaker trip leading to food spoilage. When I fret about electrical stuff, I'm usually worried about fire. Fire would be worse, but rotten food would not be good at all.

I'll have to ponder what to do, but you guys are terrific to provide such good information.

I had considered trying to tackle the addition of another outlet above the existing one myself, but I'm not sure I could run a new circuit. That would involve working in the attic on the wrong side of that grey box with the black switches. I could seriously hurt myself!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 8:41PM
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quandary, from what I could tell by your posts, you have some serious reading to do before you should attempt to work on the electric in your house. I'm not trying to insult you, just trying to protect you and your family. There's a lot to know in order to do it right, and one small mistake could be disastrous. In a case like yours which is a one time deal and something that could protect hundreds of dollars of food, I would suggest calling an electrician, don't even bother doing it yourself. On the other hand, if you were looking to wire a basement refinish or addition in the future, then I'd tell you to start researching and reading everything you can.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 9:06PM
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Thanks, fotostat -- I appreciate your candor. Believe me, I know that electrical work is serious business, and would never take on such a project casually. This forum is helpful though, even in the decision-making process.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 10:22PM
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    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 1:31PM
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put down the crack pipe!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 1:56PM
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