Large appliances that use lots of energy typically need a dedicated circuit. Does a washer fall into this category?
If you’re wondering how to plug in your new appliance, this article is for you.
We we will discuss the following:
- What is a dedicated circuit
- Whether a washing machine needs a dedicated circuit
- If you need a 15 or 20 amp circuit for your washing machine
- Whether washers and dryers actually need separate circuits
First of all what is a dedicated circuit?
An electrical circuit is a path that allows for the transfer of electrical current. Simply put, a dedicated circuit is a path where electrical current is fed directly to a single outlet and not shared with any other source or input.
Dedicated circuits ensure that the appliances they support have enough amperage to properly function without safety concerns. Additionally, they have their own distinct circuit breaker and are identifiable inside your electrical panel.
Most major appliances require a dedicated circuit to guarantee there is a consistent and plentiful stream of power.
Difference between 15 and 20 amp outlets
- A 15 amp socket is the standard 3-prong plugin that you see all over your home
- A 20 amp socket looks just like the standard 3-prong however they have a horizontal opening that intersects with one of the vertical openings
Today, most American home have numerous 15 amp outlets that connect to a 20 amp circuit breaker. This is to allow multiple smaller devices to connect directly to a 20 amp circuit.
Most household electrical receptacles have a 15 amp rating, but they connect to a 20 amp circuit. You can use a device that has a 15 amp plug with either a 15 or 20 amp receptacle.
You should note that 15 amp plugs can connect be plugged into both a 15 amp and 20 amp socket. However, the reverse is not true; 20 amp plugs cannot be plugged into a 15 amp circuit.
15 and 20 Amp Wall Outlet Recommendations
15 amp wall outlet
20 amp wall outlet
Does a Washing Machine Need a Dedicated Circuit?
Appliances that need a dedicated circuit should be plugged into their own outlet, which has nothing else plugged into it.
A washing machine itself does not need a dedicated circuit, but it might make the most sense to give it one depending on your dryer.
For example, if you have a gas dryer, it’s okay to plug both the washer and dryer into the same outlet. Electric dryers need their own dedicated circuit, however.
As stated earlier, dedicated circuits are used primarily for safety reasons. Namely, they ensure enough power is going to your appliance which can reduce your risk of a circuit breaker trip. Trips cause the power in that circuit to shut off. While this may seem like no big deal, it can be dangerous to your appliances, your home, and you.
Circuit breaker trips can break your appliances and are also a fire hazard.
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15 or 20 Amp Circuit for Washing Machine: Which is Best?
Your laundry room is required to have a 20 amp circuit.
This is the circuit where you should plug in your washing machine. If you have a gas dryer, it is okay to plug this into the same socket.
However, to reiterate is it is very important – if you have an electric dryer, make sure it is on its own dedicated circuit, separate from the washer.
Unsure if your dryer is gas or electric?
The quickest way to determine whether your dryer is gas or electric is to look at the dryer cord. If the cord is a standard 3-prong, you have a gas dryer.
If the cord is a 3 or 4-prong with an “L” shape, you have an electric dryer.
Take a look at the examples below for more help.
Do Washers and Dryers Need Separate Circuits?
Your washer and dryer need separate circuits if you have an electric dryer. Gas dryers can plug into the same outlet as your washing machine.
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