I am trying to do a little work and have an electrician check it. I have a range that is a 3 prong 50amp 125/250 (looks like the 10-50R).

List of materials purchased:

  • 50 amp Siemens Circuit Breaker
  • 25 ft of 6/3 Aluminum wire
  • Staples
  • Cable Brackets
  • 50amp 125/250V receptacle

I am aware that the code changed in 1999 requiring 4 wire, albeit after I purchased this stuff. Would it be better for longevity to install 6/4 rather than the 6/3 and have the 3 prong range plug rewired? Not even sure if you can install the 3wire, though it is an old house.

5 Answers 5


You must always follow the most recently adopted code when installing new wiring, no matter how old the house is. With that said, the cord of a cord-and-plug attached device is beyond the scope of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

Installing a new range

When you purchase a range, they will also sell you the attachment plug. If you opt to install the stove yourself, they will ask you if you need 3 or 4 wire. This is because if you already have a 3 wire receptacle that was installed before the code change then you are not required to update the house wiring when installing the range.

When you're ready to install the range in the house, you'll follow the manufacturers installation instruction for a 3 wire attachment plug. Once the cord is attached to the device, simply plug it in and you're done.

Installing or modifying a range circuit

If you are installing a new circuit for the range (which it sounds like you might be), or modifying the existing range circuit, you must follow all currently adopted codes. This will likely mean running 4 conductor wire, and installing a 4 wire receptacle. Remember, the code is applied during installation, not when the materials are purchased.

Side Note: Technically, code applies at the time of inspection. However, the inspector will usually use the date the permit was granted. So if there was a code change after the permit was pulled, but before the inspection, the inspector will usually use the old code.

If your range has a 3 wire attachment plug, you'll have to follow the manufacturers installation instructions to change to a 4 wire plug.

  • 2
    The topic of connecting aluminum to copper wire should be mentioned. Most electrical connectors are designed to connect to copper and not aluminum. Special care must be taken to ensure that the socket (and circuit breaker) is approved for use with aluminum. Also, dielectric anti-corrosion paste might want to be used.
    – Pigrew
    Feb 7, 2013 at 15:03
  • 1
    @Pigrew Most circuit breakers and 50A receptacles are designed to accept aluminium wire, so there should be no mixing of copper and aluminium in this situation. It should be a direct run; with no splices or taps, of aluminium wire between the breaker and the receptacle.
    – Tester101
    Feb 7, 2013 at 15:19

Do you want to wire the plug for an old existing range or a new one? If it is older 3 wire, then a three wire plug is fine technically, but if it is designed for four wire, you should upgrade. An electrician most likely will want you to install a 4 wire circuit and modify the range to use a 4 wire plug. Also, if this is a new circuit where a range has not been installed before, then a 4 wire circuit should be installed. you can use the same breaker and exchange the 3 wire plug for a 4 wire plug. You will have to get new wire however.


Popular belief is that all certified electricians want to rip you off by telling you that you need this or that done when you really don't. Well I am not one of those, and this question deserves a qualified proper answer. If the stove receptacle and 3 wire are already in the wall and working fine don't mess with it. However if you are getting that funny vibrating tingling feeling from the stove when you touch it, when it's on or not, then the stove is not properly grounded and that is what the 4 wire system does. It has very little to do with causing a fire or earning electricians more money. Codes are put in place to prevent fires, but also to protect homeowners and their families from getting a life threatening shock from a faulty manufactured appliance or another condition that could potential be life threatening. So please stop thinking wrong of us hard working, caring, safety conscious individuals.

  • You raise some very good points here, but they have the effect of burying the lede of this answer -- it would be stronger I feel if you led with your statement about the grounding of the stove. Thanks for your answer, and welcome to the site Jon! Sep 14, 2018 at 17:19
  • Yes the reason is Electrocution hazard, as opposed to electric shock hazard. Electricians are stating what they know of code and what will be to the best interest of that homeowner - in some cases you might think they oversold you on something but in the future when you do something else you might say wow that electrician saved me from a life threatening situation or in a new range purchase case redoing this wiring again. They tell you what they know of code and not what a DIY'er might think is 'good enough' for their liking.
    – Ken
    May 31, 2021 at 16:04

Ignore the scaremongering that claims your homeowner's insurance won't protect you if you miswire something. Utterly and completely false. Often repeated, never correct.

Same nitwits like to claim if you plug in a non UL approved device and it burns down your house you aren't protected. Also false.

Your homeowners insurance protects you from making stupid mistakes and being incompetent. It doesn't protect you from deliberate attempts to damage your house so don't expect a check if you take a sledge hammer to your kitchen. But don't sweat it if you catch the kitchen on fire because you miswired your range outlet.

  • Uh No Your homeowners insurance does not protect you from wiring a home incorrectly. The State mandates that codes be followed. Period. You violate the code whether through ignorance or negligence - the insurer does not need to pay you a dime. Read your policy.
    – Ken
    May 31, 2021 at 15:53

Pretty simple. Call a licensed and bonded electrician and pay the $100 an hour, and he should set you up right. Meaning he will pull 6-3 wire from panel to range aream set a 2 gang box, use a 4 wire range plug rated for 50 amps, and a cover plate. Then terminate 6-3 wire in panel to the 50 amp breaker.

By calling an actual licensed electrician that is bonded and insured you have just saved yourself the price of your house. Homeowners doing their own electrical work is a huge reason why houses burn down. After your house burns down and the fire marshall deems the result as your fault you will get absolutely zero from insurance company. With a licensed, bonded, and insured Electrician you have taken the responsibility off your hands.

  • 7
    While many of us here may generally agree with what you're saying, there's definitely a nicer way to say it. That being said... This is a do-it-yourself question and answer site, which wouldn't work well if all the answers were "Hire a professional". While we always welcome professionals with years of experience, who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. If you don't want to provide useful advice to folks, maybe this is the wrong place for you. If you want to be mean, and simply voice your opinion, you could try reddit.
    – Tester101
    Sep 13, 2016 at 18:00
  • There is also a requirement to get a permit in most states, many states allow home owners to do there own wiring and the job is inspected. Once a permitted job is signed off the insurance cannot decline a claim if something is wrong later.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 14, 2018 at 21:48

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