A mini fridge is a great and versatile appliance. One of its main purposes is storing food and drinks just as a normal-sized fridge on the go. You can also use it as a normal fridge at home if you want. While mini fridges are compact and can be stored easily on vehicles like vans or pickups, they still demand a decent amount of power to run. So can you plug a mini fridge into an extension cord?
Can you plug a mini fridge into an extension cord?
A mini fridge can be plugged into an extension cord, but factors such as the type of cord, the length, gauge and amperage rating need to be considered.
Because mini fridges don’t consume as much power as normal fridges, so you can use extension cord for it. However, you should pick a heavy-duty extension cord to handle the power. The mini fridge needs the right cord with the appropriate gauge that can transmit the current safely.
Household power supply – What you should know
Basically, electricity works rather simply: the current flows from one side of the outlet, goes through the appliance, then goes back to the other side of the outlet.
However, this process isn’t 100% efficient, and it will generate heat as a byproduct. While some appliances use this heat for their main functions (irons, kettles, toasters,…), others will be affected badly from it.
When using an extension cord, if it can’t handle the voltage of the current, the heating process will worsen on the cable itself, which can damage the cable. This is why most appliances are sold along with appropriate cables to be used.
So if you want to use an extension cord with any appliance, make sure it can handle the power just like the appliance itself.
Power requirements for mini fridges
A mini fridge usually needs about 90 to 150V. Just like a normal fridge, mini fridges run in cycles. When the inside temperature reaches a certain limit, they will be put in stand-by mode. And when you open the fridge, it will draw power again to keep the inside cool.
You may also like: What Should You Consider Before Buying a 12v Fridge?
Why should you use an extension cord?
The main reason to use an extension cord is for convenience.
In a vehicle, you can only put the mini fridge in certain spots since space is limited. And sometimes, the power outlet in the vehicle won’t be close enough to the fridge.
An extension cord solves this problem nicely if you pick ones that can handle the power just like the fridge needs. It also provides additional outlets to use with other devices.
Is it safe to plug the mini fridge into an extension cord?
As long as the extension cord can handle the same power as the mini fridge needs, it should be just fine.
However, you should keep in mind these factors before using the extension cord for your mini fridge.
The cord length
In short, the longer the cord, the more your mini fridge has to work.
Every appliance that uses electricity has some resistance figure that will contribute to inefficiency of the appliance itself and heat production.
By using an extension cord, you add into that resistance figure. The longer the cable, the more resistance the current has to go through, which results in the fridge having to work more to draw the same power.
When picking an extension cord to use with the mini fridge, you should measure the distance between the outlet and where the longest the mini fridge’s cable can reach, and pick the cord with roughly the same length.
With the extension cords, you guarantee that the fridge can’t work as efficiently as when plugging the fridge’s cable straight into the outlet, so try to minimize the difference.
Grounding the cord
Most large appliances have 3-prong plugs. The third prong is the ground prong to deliver excess electricity to non-conductive spots for dispersion.
The 3-prong plug is important for metal encased appliances like a fridge. Without the third prong, the outside metal frame can be electrically charged, which can be dangerous to use.
You can solve this problem simply by only plugging the fridge into the 3-prong outlet on the extension cord. If wrongly plugged, the metal frame can be charged and the third prong is exposed.
The cord’s gauge measurement
The cord’s gauge figure shows how thick the cable is. Lower numbers mean a thicker cable. And the cable’s thickness can reduce its resistance, which helps handling high-powered current.
For a mini fridge, a cable with 14 gauge or lower is enough.
The amperage rating
A mini fridge needs a proper amp to operate effectively, and it should be balanced with the cord’s amperage ratings.
You should use a heavy-duty cord with appropriate rating to avoid any damage or malfunctions that may occur during use. Also, the cord will transmit the power for your mini fridge safely and efficiently.
Further reading: 10 Best Mini Fridges with Freezer
Notice when using a mini fridge with an extension cord
There might be some risks that you should be aware while using an appliance with an extension cord, especially the high-power item like fridges. Followings are the most common risks.
Fire may happen
Because the mini fridge runs all day and night, so the extension cord must work continuously. This extensive use can lead to a fire or explode especially when the appliance has high electrical power.
Wires are damaged
You cannot cover the extension cord, so it almost exposed to open air, sunlight, wind and humid. Therefore, the cord can be easily damaged by scratching, tearing, liquids or being dropped.
Reduce the fridge’s lifespan
Using an extension cord can cause the drop of voltage of electric current which will affect and damage the compressor’s working efficiency. This can lead to the burning of some parts of the fridge and shorten its lifespan.
How to prevent risks
Because of the above risks, you should use the extension cord in a short time as a temporary solution only. When using it, do not put too much food in the fridge or open the fridge regularly to prevent the fridge from overwork. The harder the fridge work to cool down the internal temperature, the more damages may occur.
Guidelines for choosing an extension cord
There are some guidelines that you should consider before buying an extension cord for your mini fridge.
- Buy a heavy-duty gauge with thick wires that can transmit the current for the fridge
- Choose a three-prong grounded plug for your mini fridge
- Using a grounded extension cord
- Pick an extension cord with appropriate length to minimize the current load
- The wattage or amperage rating of an extension cord and the fridge should be compatible
You can use an extension cord when the outlet is faraway from the fridge’s plug. But make sure the cable can handle the power just as the fridge needs.
Also, you should pick an extension cable with just enough length, low gauge (ideally 14 or less), and remember to plug the fridge into the 3-prong outlet on the cord.
- Plugging a mini fridge into an extension cord, homelyville.com, Retrieved on Jan. 2, 2022
- Can A Mini Fridge Be Plugged Into An Extension Cord, portablepowerguides.com, Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2022