Using An Extension Cord With A Freezer – What You Need To Know

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I recently purchased an additional freezer to store in our garage. This is great as it allows me to stock up on great deals without worrying about storage space.

However, we didn’t have a socket available for the freezer, and didn’t want the freezer in the location of the sockets within our garage.

Luckily, we found that you can use an extension cord with a freezer provided that the freezer has a lower amp rating than the extension cord. However, this shouldn’t be a long term solution.

This not only allowed us to plug our freezer into a socket in the garage but also place our freezer wherever we liked in the garage regardless of our socket locations.

However, this was only a temporary measure since it’s not recommended long-term according to most freezer manufacturers and the National Electrical Code.

Using An Extension Cord Shouldn’t Be A Long Term Solution

It’s important to note that using an extension cord with a freezer goes against the National Electrical Code and most freezer manufacturers.

This in turn will void the warranty of your freezer if any damage is caused when using the freezer with an extension cord.

As such, using an extension cord with your freezer should not be a long term solution and should be done with a lot of care an attention to minimise any risks.

In our case, we ended up using an extension cord for four weeks before an electrician was able to come out and install an additional socket into our garage.

While this did cost us around $300, it was a lot cheaper than the cost of replacing the freezer, the food inside or the contents of our garage and home should something have happened as a result of using the extension cord long term.

Things To Consider When Using An Extension Cord With A Freezer

Aside from not using an extension cord long term with a freezer, there are some other things you should consider to ensure maximum safety.

However, keep in mind that this is all done at your own risk and nothing replaces the advice of a qualified electrician or the instruction manual of your freezer.

Use A Single Cord

While it maybe tempting to plug multiple different items into one extension cord this can easily result in you overloading it.

This can at best blow the fuse in the extension cord and the connected appliances, and at worse cause a fire.

As such it’s recommended that you only use the extension cord for your freezer and nothing else.

If you find that your extension cord is ever hot to touch then you should disconnect it to prevent any further damage.

Use A Short Cord

It’s best to use a 50 feet (15.24m) cord or shorter because it will not get in the way like the long one or prevent you from pushing the freezer to the wall.

When you leave space between the chest freezer and the wall, rodents can nest there and end up damaging the cord, causing an electric shock or fire hazard.

Also, long cords can drop voltage along the way, which makes it difficult for the freezer to cool food items as expected, leading to your food getting spoiled.

Besides that, low voltage can cause the compressor motor to overheat and burn itself out. 

Avoid Running The Cord Through Rooms

It would be best if you used the extension cord within the same room as the freezer.

This way, you avoid having the cord pass from one room to another to reach the freezer.

If you discover the room in which you want to put the freezer doesn’t have a receptacle, move it to a space with one or get a professional to install one.

The reason why it’s ill-advised to pass the cord through a wall to another room is that it may get damaged by rodents or due to ageing and cause a fire.

Yet, because the cord is hidden from your view, you might not see the damage before it causes problems. 

In addition, the cord can trip people and also get crushed if you pass it through a doorway.

Someone could also kick it lose, and you may only realize it when your food starts to smell. 

You may think that the best way to prevent the cable from getting damaged is to staple it to a baseboard or run it under a carpet.

Unfortunately, stapling could end up exposing the wires while covering it can stop heat from escaping and cause a fire.

Make Sure the AMPs Are Correct

To ensure that your chest freezer is drawing the right amps, you need to plug it into the correct extension cable.

Always check the amp draw of a cord before you use it. As most houses have 15 amp circuits with 14-gauge wiring, it’s better to get a cord that matches that capacity or is even heavier for smooth operation.

The freezer can use heavy loads as it constantly cycles on and off.

That said, a heavy-duty low gauge (12-gauge) cable may be better suited because it allows the freezer to consume more current without any problem. 

Ensure You Are Not Overloading the Outlet & Circuit

You can ensure overloading doesn’t occur by only using the chest freezer on a circuit.

Overloading can cause a short circuit that can destroy the freezer and cause a fire in your home.

Also, using other appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, and electric kettles on the same circuit as the freezer can lead to excess power use, which could end up tripping the circuit.

However, since it might be difficult to ensure this while using an extension cord, cover up all the other receptacles with childproof covers to prevent anyone else from using them. 

Moreover, if you have a dedicated circuit in the room containing your freezer, I recommend using it with a 20-amp circuit breaker to effectively prevent any risk of overload.

Use the Right Cord for Interior and Exterior

There are specific extension cords for indoors and outdoors that you should use accordingly.

So if you want to use the chest freezer in your shed or on a patio, the cord needs to be designed for exterior use.

Exterior extension cords should be jacketed and resistant to mechanical and sunlight damage.

Still, just because the cord is jacketed doesn’t mean it’s waterproof. Therefore, you need to be careful about spilling water and other liquids on it to prevent electrocution.

Misusing the cords explicitly meant for indoor or outdoor may lead to you starting a fire that could burn down your home.

Use a Grounded Extension Cord

The proper cord to use should be a UL-listed 3-wire grounded with a current rating of 15 amps and 120 volts since freezer plugs have ground pins. 

You should always plug the freezer directly into a 3-pin cord. Never attempt to force the freezer plug into a 2-pin cord by using an adapter or cutting off the third prong.

This is because you would be removing the ground function that helps prevent fires and electric shocks.

Also, if you have a 2-prong wall outlet instead of a grounded 3-prong one, you should have it replaced so that it suits your freezer’s plug.

Avoid Coiling or Bending the Cord

Before using the extension cable, you should uncoil and straighten it.

Plugging a freezer into a coiled cord can cause a fire because the curling prevents the heat generated from the flowing current from easily dispensing.

The fire may destroy the freezer and even burn down your home, injuring people in the process.

If for some reason, you forget to unroll the cord before running the freezer on it, pull the plug to disconnect it from the outlet and stretch it out before reusing it.

Never Plug Multiple Extension Cords Together

If you find that your extension cable cannot reach the power outlet, you should buy one long enough to reach the outlet instead of using two cords together.

Connecting the cords in this way can cause overloading and overheating, leading to a fire hazard.

Moreover, there’s a high chance of the cords disconnecting during use.

Also, if you or somebody else in the home accidentally pours water near the loosened cables, you could get electrocuted.