How to Wire a Refrigerator Circuit

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Electrical outlets supplying power to refrigerators require a dedicated circuit, which is an outlet with no other devices connected to it. Wiring the circuit with 12-gauge grounded ROMEX® cable connected to a 20-amp circuit breaker ensures the proper load protection. Refrigerator outlets are also installed higher than other outlets to allow better access to the plug when moving the appliance in or out of its confined space. A refrigerator circuit can be installed with the proper tools, materials and electrical circuit knowledge.

Things You'll Need

  • Battery-powered work light
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Voltage tester
  • 20-amp circuit breaker
  • Hammer
  • Cable clamp
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Keyhole saw
  • Fish line wire puller
  • Helper
  • Electrical tape
  • 12-2 ROMEX® cable with ground
  • Wire stripping pliers
  • Wire cutting pliers
  • Electrical outlet box
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Electrical outlet
  • Cover plate

Turn the main circuit breaker panel to the "Off" position. The breaker is located at the top of the panel. From this point on, you may require a battery-powered work light.

Remove the front cover of the main panel using the appropriate screwdriver. Turn the cover screws counter-clockwise beginning from the bottom of the cover. Pull the cover straight out.

Test the panel with a voltage tester to verify that no power exists. Touch one probe of the tester to the neutral/ground bus where the white neutral and bare copper grounds are connected. Touch the other probe to the vertical circuit breaker contacts.

Install the 20-amp circuit breaker in an open space on either side of the panel. Follow the panel manufacturer’s specific instructions regarding the method of installation.

Remove an available access plug from the main panel. Tap the edge of the plug with a hammer and a flathead screwdriver to get it started and finish with combination pliers. Move the plug back and forth until it breaks free.

Install a cable clamp in the plug hole and tighten it into place with the clamp nut. Tighten clockwise tapping the points of the nut with the screwdriver and hammer.

Trace the outline of the electrical outlet box on the wall in the chosen location using a pencil. A box height of 48 inches from the floor provides the access needed to plug the refrigerator into the outlet. Cut the pattern out using a utility knife or keyhole saw.

Extend a fish line wire puller to the box hole from the main panel location. A helper may be needed at the outlet box hole to retrieve the line. Attach the 12-2 ROMEX® to the fish line with electrical tape.

Pull the 12-2 cable from the wall box hole to the main panel and disconnect it from the fish line.

Pull the end of the 12-2 ROMEX® through the cable clamp and into the main panel. Cut the ROMEX® sheathing with a utility knife. Expose enough of the black wire to reach the new breaker.

Strip 3/4 inches of insulation from the white and black wires with the wire stripping pliers. Expose enough of the white and bare copper wires to reach the neutral/ground bus.

Connect the white neutral wire and the bare copper wire to the neutral/ground bus. Tighten the terminal screws clockwise with a screwdriver. Connect the black wire to the circuit breaker according to the circuit breaker manufacturer’s specific instructions.

Secure the 12-2 ROMEX® in the cable clamp. Be sure the clamp strap is over the cable sheathing, not the exposed insulated wires. Tighten the clamp screws with a screwdriver.

Replace the main panel cover and tighten the screws from the top down with a screwdriver.

Cut the ROMEX® cable at the wall box hole using wire cutting pliers. Leave six inches outside the hole.

Insert the end of the ROMEX® through a hole in the electrical outlet box and secure the box into the wall. Steel boxes are equipped with internal cable clamps while plastic boxes use pliable locking tabs.

Cut four inches of sheathing from the end of the ROMEX® using the utility knife. Strip 3/4 inches of insulation from the white and black wires with the wire strippers. Bend open end loops in each of the wires with needle-nose pliers.

Connect the black hot wire to the brass-colored terminal, the white neutral wire to the silver terminal and the bare copper to the green ground terminal. Keep the open end of the loops facing to the right. Tighten the terminal screws clockwise with a screwdriver.

Push the outlet into the box and tighten the upper and lower bracket screws with a screwdriver.

Install the outlet cover plate and tighten the screw.

Restore electrical power.

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