While it’s best to plug a microwave oven directly into an electrical outlet, there are valid reasons to use an extension cord. This could be safe or dangerous depending on how you approach it. Be sure to check your oven’s specifications and make a decision cautiously.
Can You Plug a Microwave Into An Extension Cord?
The U.S. Fire Administration warns against using an extension cord under any circumstances, and GE Appliances “strongly” discourages it. They emphasize the dangers of overloaded wires. Extra cords may also compromise safety by increasing the number of connections.
If you want to take the safest route, hire an electrician to install a new outlet near the appliance. You could also put the oven elsewhere, even if this means you have to invest in a small table or stand.
However, it is possible to safely use an extension cord if you select it carefully and take a number of precautions. Heavy-duty power cables have the ability to carry high levels of electrical current without overheating.
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How To Choose Which Extension Cord To Use With a Microwave
A suitable wire should be as short as possible and of high quality. General Electric Appliances urges customers who must use an extension cord to select a UL-listed model with three prongs.
Don’t forget to check the AWG rating. This acronym stands for American Wire Gauge. A lower gauge means the product has thicker wires, so it can safely handle more watts and amps.
A 14-gauge cable proves adequate for many countertop microwave ovens. To maximize safety, use 12-gauge wire instead. It may be necessary if you own a large or commercial-grade oven.
An electrical cord’s label should state its maximum amperage as well. The number of amps ought to exceed the appliance’s amp rating. Many microwaves can use 15-amp cables, but some of the more powerful units demand 20-amp cords.
Even when you choose a heavy-duty wire, your microwave oven may perform somewhat differently. The exhaust fan might not sound the same, and it’s possible that the light will flicker. It could also take more time to heat your meals.
Recommended Microwave Extension Cord
The Tripp Lite P024-003 provides an affordable option that will satisfy most buyers. It carries up to 15 amps, and sizes range from three to 25 feet. Amazon shoppers rate it 4.8 out of five stars on average.
This UL-listed product features 14-gauge wiring. Its black color matches the built-in power cables of many microwave ovens. Tripp Lite guarantees the quality of this heavy-duty cord by including a lifetime warranty.
If you seek a product that can handle even more power, consider the Iron Box IBX-1010. This 12-gauge cord safely carries up to 20 amps, but it requires a special 20-amp outlet. It’s available in lengths ranging from one to 25 feet.
This well-made product has achieved a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. It’s also UL-listed. The IBX-1010 isn’t the most economical solution, but it was designed to maximize power capacity and durability.
Dangers of Using Any Old Extension Cord For Your Microwave
Remember that it’s risky to use a random extension cord or power strip for this purpose. The same goes for a heavy-duty cable in poor condition. An effort to save $15 could badly damage the kitchen or ruin your appliance.
Be sure to avoid other risky shortcuts as well, such as using a three-prong adapter or cutting off an extension cord’s third prong. If your kitchen has an old two-prong outlet, you should ask a qualified electrician to upgrade it.
Always keep electrical connections dry. Don’t run the wire under a rug or near a food preparation area. If a cable feels hot, you ought to stop using it and consider replacing it with a higher-gauge wire.
What could happen if you choose the wrong power cable? At the least, you’ll probably trip the room’s circuit breaker or blow a fuse. Ceiling lights may also flicker.
Far worse outcomes can result, especially if a circuit breaker malfunctions. Someone could suffer a shock with serious health consequences. Components may overheat, damaging the electrical system and potentially sparking a fire.
Take Care Not To Overload Electrical Circuits
Even the best cord might not produce good results if you plug it into the wrong outlet. It’s crucial not to overload household circuitry. An extension cord gives you more flexibility to choose a specific circuit.
If you plug the oven into the same circuit as your refrigerator, it may trip the breaker or blow a fuse when the fridge turns on while the microwave is running. Both appliances will shut off, and the room may go dark.
Likewise, you should avoid running a microwave on the same circuit as a space heater, toaster oven or other powerful appliance. Refer to your home’s electrical panel to see what outlets share each circuit. The ideal solution is to dedicate an entire circuit to the microwave.