While a standard electrical outlet is fine for a lamp, you cannot use it for an electric oven. Electric ranges require a special outlet designed to match the plug. This ensures that you only plug the range into an outlet with the proper voltage, which is higher than a standard outlet. The design of the outlet has changed over the years, but the voltage and circuit requirements have remained the same.
Electric ranges are considered high-voltage appliances. The outlet must be a 240-volt outlet to power the stove. This is twice the 110 volts of a typical lighting outlet. The distinctive shape of a range's outlet prevents you from accidentally using it for a low-voltage appliance such as a coffee maker.
Older electric ranges had a a three-slot design for the plug and outlet. Each of the two upper slots was for one of the two hot wires. The third slot combined the neutral wire with the ground in the plug. Unlike grounded standard outlets, the top two slots in a range outlet are angled toward each other so a low-voltage plug cannot fit.
Four slots mark a modern electric range outlet. Arranged vertically, two of the slots are parallel to each other at the outer edges of the center of the outlet for the hot wires in the plug. A second pair of slots are at the top and bottom of the outlet. The top slot is for the neutral part of the plug and the smallest hole in the outlet is for the ground. Do not confuse a four-slot range outlet with a four-prong dryer outlet. The top slot in the dryer outlet has an l-shape, but the range outlet has a straight, vertical slot at the top.
The kind of power outlet used for a range is governed by a standardized code. You must have a separate 50-amp breaker on your circuit panel for the range because it is a high-voltage appliance. If the outlet is within six feet of the sink, a ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, must be included on the outlet. The outlet itself must be located no more than six feet away from the range.
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