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I have a 30 Amp circuit breaker for my dryer. The receptacle (outlet) is a 50 Amp outlet (it was in the house when I got it). I have a 50 Amp cord connected to a 30 Amp dryer.

My only concern is if plugging in the dryer will cause a fire. (I’d like to say it wouldn't because the previous dryer just died, but I’d like to make sure).

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  • Is changing the receptacle and cord not in the cards for some reason...? Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 4:11
  • You say, "Those were in the house when I got it.". Does that mean that there is more than one 50A receptacle on a 30A breaker, or was that just the wrong choice of words?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 12:42
  • I was hoping to save the expense of an electrician. I’m not adept with electricity…one of the very few things that I do not want to “try”..
    – Nicky k
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 13:04
  • Wrong Choice of words. Should have specified: the 30 amp breaker and 50 amp receptacle were already installed and here in the house when I got it. My parents lived here since 1988, and I’m pretty sure nothing changed in that room.
    – Nicky k
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 13:12
  • Cool, @Nickyk, it's good to be precise, it can cause confusion. I've edited to indicate this.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 16:31

4 Answers 4

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If the breaker is 30A and the receptacle is 50A, and the wire is at least 10 AWG, then no it won’t cause a fire. However If you have an appliance that expects 40 or 50A, like an electric oven, you will find that it will trip the breaker constantly as it tries to pull more than the breaker will allow.

Where you can start a fire is if you plug a 30A appliance like a dryer into a 50A receptacle with a 40 or 50A breaker. If the appliance malfunctions and starts to pull more electricity than its internal wiring can handle, it can start a fire inside the appliance and the breaker won’t protect against it.

That is why there are receptacles for different amperages. If your appliance is a 30A appliance, it should have a 30A power cord that won’t plug in to a 50A receptacle.

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  • Yes, that exactly it. I’m trying to save myself a couple of hundred dollars instead of hiring an electrician. Too many things that need repairing! Lol
    – Nicky k
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 13:09
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It will be fine. I am assuming the wire was sized properly. The 30 Amp breaker primary purpose is to protect the wire connecting it to the plug. It should be a #10 AWG or #8AWG either would be OK. The larger 50 Amp Cord is fine, it is bigger than needed.

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  • I REALLY appreciate all of your comments, help and guidance! I will utilize all of them! (Except welding in the house. Haven’t learned how to weld. Yet)
    – Nicky k
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 22:14
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There is a fire risk in putting a 50A plug on a 30A appliance. Not to you, in your current installation, but through a series of unlikely future events ... you sell the thing with this plug on it, the buyer naively plugs it into an available 50A range outlet with a 50A breaker, an internal fault develops that draws just enough current to start a fire but not to trip the 50A breaker, and so on.

Given the dryer is not particularly portable and is in your house, you have good oversight to ensure this sequence of events cannot proceed. So to add to the unlikely sequence of events, you would have to die first .... :)

There is an additional risk: If there is #10 wiring in your walls accompanying the 30A breaker, and for some reason a 50A outlet attached to it, there is a risk someone in future will recklessly see that outlet and swap the breaker to a 50A one and set the in-wall wiring on fire. IT's not a risk to you, as you are obviously sufficiently aware of such issues. But if you have a 30A breaker with #10 wiring and a 30A appliance you REALLY should put the correct outlet and appliance cable on it. The first risk is about what happens to a buyer of your dryer with its 50A plug. This one is about what happens to a buyer of your house who takes the wrong cues from your installation.

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    The best bet would be to have the receptacle and appliance cord replace with the appropriate 4-wire 30A ones.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 12:50
  • It’s a 30 amp breaker feeding into a 50 amp receptacle, then to a 50 amp plug, to a 30 Amp appliance. My THINKING is that if the outlet tries to pull 50 AMPS (but why would it for 30 amp appliance), then the breaker would trip.
    – Nicky k
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 13:07
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    Yes @Nickyk , in OP's current situation his installation of a 50A plug adds no immediate fire risk because the breaker is correct. I'm just answering the question directly by noting a more obscure and non-immediate risk. A 30A power cord comes free with most new dryers, and there's a 30A breaker there so instead of installing a 50A plug, why not install a 30A receptacle?. Then you add no new risks. Oversized cable from breaker to outlet is fine.
    – jay613
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 13:15
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    Or the other sequence is: New owner sees 50A receptacle, assumes 30A breaker was "because dryer", decides to use 50A receptacle for a 50A welder instead, replacing the 30A breaker with a 50A breaker without realizing the wire between breaker and receptacle is not big enough for 50A. Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 14:52
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    I hope you don't mind, I'm adding that to my answer.
    – jay613
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 16:04
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Replace both the cord and the receptacle

Your best bet in this situation is to put the correct (30A) receptacle in instead of the current (wrong) receptacle, as well as switch the dryer's cord out for the correct cord -- the manual for your dryer will tell you how to install a cord on it. Note that if your current receptacle only has 3 prongs on it, then it's obsolete and hazardous anyway. In that case, turning off the breaker and posting a new question here with photos of the inside of the dryer receptacle box would be your best bet for further advice on your situation.

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