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I have a single three prong socket in my wall for my washing machine. I would like to put a small lamp on the counter next to the washer but there are no other sockets anywhere in my laundry room. If I use a heavy duty splitter can I plug my washer in one socket and my lamp in the other or do I need to have that single socket replaced with a double one as I have seen on this website suggested before. I'm talking maximum of like 25 to 40 w lamp. Thanks

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  • Please tell us where you are from, or, more important, whether the electrical installation at your place is UK, French, German, US, or whatever. Well, it's probably not European if you explicitly mention "three prong", but what exactly?
    – Klaws
    Nov 4, 2021 at 19:40

2 Answers 2

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Just replace it with a duplex. There needs to be (current code, hasn't been that way "forever") a dedicated 20A circuit for the laundry room. But it can be a duplex receptacle, which would solve your problem much safer than a "splitter".

In addition, it should be GFCI protected according to current code. If it is not currently GFCI protected, then you should install a duplex receptacle with GFCI, solving two problems (safety and convenience) at the same time.

The only catch will be if the existing single receptacle is in a very small box. Small boxes can usually take a simple duplex receptacle but are often not big enough for a GFCI. If that's the case, you will need to replace or extend the box, which gets a little more complicated.

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  • If it's in a very small box, wouldn't it also be an option to replace the breaker with a GFCI one instead? Nov 4, 2021 at 5:15
  • @JosephSible-ReinstateMonica Yes, but that's probably as complicated as replacing/extending the box, but with more risk of electrocution. And you have to take into consideration anything else on the circuit (if it isn't dedicated) that might cause a trip or be a nuisance if it did.
    – TylerH
    Nov 4, 2021 at 14:02
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    @TylerH With a reasonably modern panel and no double-stuff breakers, GFCI breaker is very easy. But with an older panel that can't take GFCI, or if the current circuit is on a double-stuff breaker, GFCI breaker can be anywhere from moderate-to-huge complexity. Nov 4, 2021 at 14:10
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    @TylerH There are a lot of variables. If you have a modern panel with a main breaker and clear access to ground/neutral bars, etc. then this is trivial. If you have an old Rule-of-6 setup with some stuff on fuses and some on a small breaker subpanel, etc. (my house) then it is a whole different ballgame. OP has said absolutely nothing about panels, so we just don't know. Nov 4, 2021 at 14:50
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Or if you're just clumsy when working and you touch the main cable with the metal front panel while you're taking it off, or if the panel is not correctly wired in some way or if it's still energized somehow... the list goes on and on. But yes, the point is still that you introduce a lot more potential risk when working on the main breaker panel vs cutting a bigger hole in your drywall and inserting a bigger box.
    – TylerH
    Nov 4, 2021 at 17:50
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To answer your primary question, yes, you can use a splitter. It's marginally less safe and runs the risk of working loose over time, but some common sense makes it viable.

Just use one that looks well constructed, maintains the ground path, and meets the current rating of the circuit breaker.

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  • “looks well constructed” — wouldn’t it be better to rely on (non-counterfeit) certification marks (UL, etc.)?
    – Reid
    Nov 5, 2021 at 19:12

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