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I have just moved into a new construction home. The home came with a sub-zero refrigerator. I found that the fridge is not wired on a dedicated circuit, but is on one shared with outlets above the counter. Sub Zero requires a dedicated circuit per their documentation and FAQ:

Answer: All Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove appliances require a dedicated electrical circuit.

It seems that in general NEC codes does NOT require a dedicated circuit as discussed in this post.

This seems consistent with other research, except for when people are talking about Sub Zero e.g., from 2002 "Also, no sep. circuit is needed unless the fridge is a sub zero, then make it a 20a circ" and more recently here here.

I read that some inspectors will force compliance with manufacturer requirements (e.g., if Sub Zero says you need dedicated, then it has to be dedicated to pass), but it's not a given. Is there anything actually in the NEC code that I can use to force them to actually put the fridge on a dedicated circuit? e.g. something about the power draw or other specs of the sub zero fridge override the normal conditions that wouldn't require a dedicated circuit?

I would like to better understand what the diff is between a sub zero and other refrigerators that actually make this more important than regular fridges. What is the real risk - can I damage my fancy fridge if I plug in the wrong type of device to one of the wall outlets?

Also, not sure what is going on with the wiring - the outlets are GFCI and testing trips the other outlets, but not the fridge outlet - does this play into the logic of the way they connected the fridge?

Additional Info: I think there actually is a dedicated outlet behind the fridge based on what I saw during construction. Right now, the fridge is plugged into an outlet in the cabinet above the fridge instead of the one I would have expected halfway up the wall behind the fridge.

They told me there was not enough space back between wall and fridge to use that outlet (seems unlikely, the cabinet maker knew the exact appliance going in, so unlikely they didn't make it big enough).

Since it's a pain to remove and move around the built in fridge I wanted to get more information in case it turns out there really isn't enough space and they need to spend money to make it right.

If needed - the fridge model is: 36UFDID/S

  • In reference to your Additional Info Note. It is apparent that this receptacle was installed intending to serve the resident refrigerator (what else would it be used for?). Just have the contractor move the receptacle to an area behind the fridge where it doesn't interfere. The installation manual should show a spot where it needs to be installed. Be prepared to pay an extra fee for the relocation. Good luck. – Retired Master Electrician Sep 2 '19 at 14:02
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NEC 110.3(B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

This is because the labeling and instructions are part of the UL listing. UL only tests and certifies the appliance if used according to labeling. So UL has not tested what happens if the refrigerator shares a circuit, and their certification is void if it is used on a shared circuit.

Why they'd want that

Possibly the motor is high-draw when it runs, such that it consumes nearly 80% of a 15A circuit's output, particularly when initially chilling the refrigerator down from warm. They definitely don't want their fridge on a GFCI; that produces special challenges for a fridge, especially one with a large motor that is built by a small volme producer. Though they can't give that as the primary reason, of course. .

Obviously the manufacturer would not place that requirement lightly, because it prevents them from selling fridges to people without dedicated fridge circuits. They are pretty high-end, so maybe they expect their customers to ante up. (Compare: appliance makers have fought tooth and nail to keep the old NEMA 10 groundless stove/dryer connections from being outlawed).

I also suspect UL would push back on them and discourage them from imposing that requirement if it wasn't necessary.

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