I thought major appliances like refrigerators in newer houses were supposed to be on dedicated circuits.

I just replaced a melted outlet in my kitchen. It was a 15 amp outlet, wired as a pass-through using the screw terminals. The outlet says "For 15A branch circuits only". (The breaker on this circuit is 20A)

The same circuit powers the fridge, 2 outlets in the kitchen (one of which powers a toaster), a couple of outlets in the laundry room, and outlet on the floor in the kitchen. I haven't traced the wiring for certain but I'm pretty sure the fridge and toaster outlets pass through the outlet that melted.

I replaced the outlet and re-wired it using pig-tails rather than pass-through, but if the outlet says "For 15A branch circuits only" that sure sounds to me like it's not rated to be anywhere on a 20A circuit.

So my questions are 2:

Should a house built in 2000 in Fairfax county, Virginia have a large refrigerator on a shared circuit? (It was built to order by a supposedly well-regarded builder.)

Is there any way it's ok to have an outlet that says "For 15A branch circuits only" wired into a 20A circuit? Somebody on another thread here said something like "All 15A outlets are rated for 20A pass-through" but an outlet that is explicitly labeled as only for 15A circuits sure seems like it doesn't belong on a 20A circuit.

  • 2
    What make/part number is the damaged receptacle, or is it some unlabeled piece of builder-grade (or worse) junk? Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 2:22
  • 1
    It's a Leviton outlet. It does have a UL stamp. Hard to tell the model or part number. I see what looks like NOM 057 stamped onto it. It also has what looks like 0121G2, but it's faint and hard to read.
    – Duncan C
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 2:27
  • It isn't possible to use a push in connection made for 14ga with 12ga wire; it won't fit. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


In the US a residential kitchen fridge is not required to be on a dedicated circuit. This is a tradeoff. If it's shared with a lighting circuit or even outlets, you may be more quick to notice if there's ever a problem. A fridge with a dedicated outlet is NOT required to have GFCI protection, and some fridge manufacturers recommend against GFCI for the fridge outlet.


In the US, under the NEC, a residential kitchen fridge is not required to be on a dedicated circuit. It is certainly a good idea and best practice, but not a requirement. A fridge can be on one of the minimum two required "small appliance branch circuits".

A 15A duplex receptacle is rated for 20A feed-thru. What you are reading about "15A only" is regarding the push-in wire connections in the back of the receptacle. They are limited to #14 solid wire and a 15A circuit. Check out the wording in the image in this related answer: Can a 20 amp circuit have a 14 gauge pigtail directly to one receptacle?

A "well-regarded" builder would never put a fridge on with the counter receptacles. Not unless this is a code-minimum tract home.

As for kitchen receptacles being shared with receptacles in a laundry area, this has not been allowed by code for many years. Well before 2000.

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    I haven't seen a fridge whose peak draw is more than a couple hundred watts (2 amps or so). Why would you want it on a dedicated line? Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 15:15
  • The wording on the back of the receptacle is pretty vague. It isn't at all clear if the "For 15A branch circuit only" regards the push-in connection or the entire receptacle. The block of text that contains that phrase does start out with "Push in #14 CU Solid wire" and then the 15A restriction is on the next line.
    – Duncan C
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:22
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    @CarlWitthoft, its a convenience thing. You don't want to have to worry about tripping a breaker if a high draw appliance is being used. Besides, most full size fridges are 5-7a, with high-end models sometimes will over 10a. Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:53
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    @CarlWitthoft the AC motor in the fridge can spike well over its "normal" amperage when starting. If you were out of the house for a day or two, would you want to come home to a tripped breaker and melted ice cream? Best to put a fridge on a dedicated 20A circuit to minimize the risk.
    – user4302
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 2:09
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    I fixed that problem by diagramming all the places that were served by the single GFI and adding 3 or 4 additional GFI outlets so each one served a small section of the total circuit, and the monument lights had their own dedicated GFI. Now when there is really heavy rain ONLY the monument lights go out. It was a big job figuring it all out in a finished house, and took me a couple of weekends to complete. And the builder probably saved <50 bucks total by only using 1 GFI for all that. Maddening.
    – Duncan C
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 1:10

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