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Hardwire a Microwave..?

Posted by sonyawheatley (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 6, 10 at 15:33

I know this is going to be an unpopular question. I am adding a microwave in our house (built 1939) It has never had one. We have wire run, on a dedicated circuit.

I do not want to cut into the kitchen cabinets to install an outlet. They are old, steel Youngstown cabinets. I love them and an completely against the idea of cutting into them.

I know it is not the ideal, recommended, or "correct" way. Stating all this upfront, is there any real danger to hard wiring the microwave as long as it is properly secured in a junction box?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

hmmmmmmmmm. so your asking what i assume are a board full of jman electricians,like myself,is it ok to violate the code and do something illegal just because is will more esthetically pleasing,and less work.
It's your house so you can do whatever you please.
But if you can make the joints in a junction box that you say will be "secure" why can you not install a surface mount box behind the microwave and install a plug in it?
Either way you are going to have a box behind your mocrowave,be it a junction box or a suface mount handibox with a plug and cover.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

I am not at all concerned about the amount of work. It is actually more work to try to find a work around than to install a simple plug.

Again, my sole concern is the integrity of old and adored cabinets - and I am not asking anyone to do anything illegal as I have not requested anyone come over and perform the work. I asked for an opinion.

As to whether to the difference in a junction box or a plug. I believe the wires can be joined inside the box and the cover will keep it flush to the wall - allowing just a tiny gap for the wire.

True an outlet is flush. But the plug adds 3-4" and this would prevent the microwave which has a flat back from hanging on the wall mount brackets.

So again I ask, what's the danger in hardwiring?


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

Is it not possible to recess the outlet?

Our present house and previous ones all have a recessed outlet in the kitchen for a clock so that the clock can be plugged in and the cord,plug and outlet are all concealed behind the clock.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

The danger is you are doing something wrong and it is a violation of the electrical code.Your microwave has a cord end for a reason,so it can be properly plugged into and grounded in a receptacle.Even the way you describe what you are going to do,i.e. "I believe the wires can be joined inside the box and the cover will keep it flush to the wall - allowing just a tiny gap for the wire."

So your now going to make joints in the old box and hang the microwave wire out the face of it and then close the lid over it,or your going to cut a hole in the cover and poke the wire thru and then close the face of it.Either way the wires are now not "secure" like you stated,they might be in the wall but there not on the outside of the box,going back to the microwave.
Also a microwave "cord" is basically an extension cord,and is not to be used in hard wired applications,which is what you are planning.
But again it is your house you can do what ever you want as long as you don't plan on getting what you have done inspected.
I would either do the job right,or not install the microwave,your call.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

Hendricus: Thanks. I didn't know about the recessed outlets. Might solve the problem.

Sparky: Thanks for taking the time to post. I have to say that the "code, code, code...." line is tired and irritating. Out house is 70 years old. We bought it with many things not being "code". I find that there are 2 schools of experts... those who can discuss and genuinely explain procedures and reasons as to why things are CODE / and the reason for it / or the reason the CODE exists, but is really unnecessary.

The other schools simply uses code as a shield for non answers and or a lack of understanding of the principals it covers.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

So by that statement can i assume that you are implying i am in the second category?
I'm not here to argue with anyone,what you asked, in my opinion was not safe to do,and i thought i explained myself as to why it should not be done the way you asked.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

I'm assuming this is going to be an above the range microwave? Otherwise I don't see why you'd have to cut into the cabinets.
If so you're going to have to drill into them anyway to mount the microwave.
Rather than cut a box in like you're against, surface mount a 4 square box in the cabinet. You won't have to cut into the cabinet that way and what's a few more mount holes since you're going to have to drill into it anyway.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

Metal cabinets and a cord that gets rubbed by those same cabinets as it disappears into a "tiny crevice" is a recipe for someone to be electrocuted. For an OTR, not only will you have to drill into the cabinet for the support of the MW, but the cord will have to have a drilled hole as well. I'd line the hole with a grommet for safety as that metal will be very sharp.

Your family is presumably more valuable to you than the vintage cabinets. The right way is the safe way for you and your family. Don't risk their lives by jacklegging it.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

"Sparky: Thanks for taking the time to post. I have to say that the "code, code, code...." line is tired and irritating. Out house is 70 years old. We bought it with many things not being "code". I find that there are 2 schools of experts... those who can discuss and genuinely explain procedures and reasons as to why things are CODE / and the reason for it / or the reason the CODE exists, but is really unnecessary.

The other schools simply uses code as a shield for non answers and or a lack of understanding of the principals it covers. "

It's funny. We have a category for posters like you as well. You are looking for one answer, and it's the one you WANT to hear. You are the type that if you don't like the answer, or if you cannot cajole the answer you really want out of folks you go on the offensive and make (implied) insults.

I had a few idea on what you could do but if it is not something you want to hear you're just going to say I don't know what I am doing.
I'll spare both of us the hassle.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

"I have to say that the "code, code, code...." line is tired and irritating. Out house is 70 years old. We bought it with many things not being "code"."

You might actually be surprised that a lot of the wiring is actually "code."

Old work is grandfathered, or we would be rewiring every building every three years when a new code comes out.

Old and not convenient does not mean it is not code compliant.

A very few things have NOT been grandfathered in many jurisdictions such as GFCI protection in bathrooms and kitchen counter receptacles.

This only require replacing the receptacle device itself and not rewiring anything.

Even know & tube remains code compliant if unaltered.

We have gotten a lot smarter over the years, and no longer allow practices that showed high failure rates or creating danger.

Cord & plug connected equipment is not governed by the NEC for the most part.
The cord and plug are covered, but the internal wiring is covered by the National Electrical Manufacturer's Association (NEMA). It has far more latitude than the NEC.
An electric stove will not have any internal wiring the same gauge as the branch circuit feeding the stove.
The manufacturer has used more expensive higher temperature insulation for the internal wiring. If the unit is listed for hard wiring the NEC equipment articles have a lot more influence.

One of the big things is that if something goes wrong with the appliance, you can always unplug it to remove power.
The plug is the device disconnect.

We follow the code as a matter of ethics and safety.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

The receptacle is not meant to be mounted behind the microwave. It is mounted in the cabinet above or beside the microwave, so that you can unplug it without having to remove the microwave first. This is for safety! This information can be found in the manufacturers installation instructions, which must also be followed in order to comply with code. I don't know why you didn't already know this with all your expertise on the subject. Your workarounds are going to be illegal, for a reason that may not be obvious even to someone as thoroughly impressed with themself as you.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

Code or no code I know how my luck works. I would install it and the display wouldn't work or something would be wrong and then I would have to attempt to take it back for warranty with a cut off plug after fussing to remove the thing that was hardwired. It would either not work right or work for just long enough for me to forget the easiest way to get it out before it quit. After taking it back for warranty it would be the ONE box that the store decided to inspect and rightfully wouldn't take back because of the altered cord.

There are options that should allow you to be able to keep the cord intact and not destroy the cabinets. It might be a little more work now but if you ever have to remove or replace that microwave you will be glad you did it.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

I used this forum since I've found so many great answers to other questions in the past & the group seemed to have a good discussion. I was not looking for any particular answer, nor was I looking to be told I was right.

I hoped for and got some great information & alternate ideas; recessed plug, fact at least 2 support holes HAD to be drilled, warranty info is valid - (although I am not concerned since the microwaves are relatively cheap & easily replaceable), and as far as the safety of being able to unplug it. I could flip the breaker much faster than I could ever get into a cabinet above it and clear a path to the plug. So thanks to everyone for taking time to respond.

For those offended by the refusal to accept my desire to UNDERSTAND why you can't hardwire, you miss the point entirely. Example: when replacing the old cast iron stack (ventpipe) I thought we might be able to tie the bathroom fan into the stack. A plumber EXPLAINED that there was serious risk of sewer gas coming back into the house. He did not simply default to the codes. That was all I ever asked for - a valid explanation. It is no different than explaining that a microwave needs to be on a dedicated circuit because it pulls to much current to be shared with any other device.

So for those who helped: Thanks! For those who got their panties in a wad: Have a great day!


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

You are right again. This can be done without all those rules and requirements of code and manufacturers instructions. Just cut the cord and get a couple of wirenuts. Tell your neighbors to stock up on marshmallows, and don't forget this next part. This is something that must be done immediately! Check with your insurance agent to be sure you have adequate coverage in the event of a fire, and while you are at it you can check the collision coverage on your broomstick.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

"I could flip the breaker much faster than I could ever get into a cabinet above it and clear a path to the plug."

This statement just proves how out to lunch you are.

Petey racer summed it up the best.Great reply.

I have worked for people like you before that just can't understand why we cant "bend the rules" to suit there demands.
This would go along the same lines of being asked to cut in a plug flush in my customer's living room floor, so he can plug in a floor lamp,and it will look "really clean".

Part of being a professional,is to do the job asked,safely and correctly.We are taught that in day one of entering the trade.And any electrician worth his weight,will do just that.So I or any other electrician on this board can not in good conscience,give you illeagal or unsafe answers.That would include first and foremost code violations.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

Is it safe for me to assume that you have to remove the cabinet from the wall in order to put the box behind it? Is it safe for me to assume that the MW will be attached in some way to the bottom of the cabinet?
Is it safe for me to assume that the outlet will be located in the 'standard' location, ie, behind the cabinet out of site?

If so, then the outlet can be a single with a single outlet type wall plate. You would then make a 3/4" hole in the back of the cabinet to plug in the MW. And another 3/4" hole in the bottom of the cabinet to insert the plug. Depending on the thickness of the steel, cutting a 3/4" hole is not a big deal.


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RE: Hardwire a Microwave..?

Put in a flush-mounted receptacle. Chop off the plug from the micro's cord and put on a 90 degree plug.


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