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I just purchased a garage freezer: GE FCM22DLCWW. On the side of the freezer, it says 115 VAC 60Hz 2.0 AMPS. In the Q/A section of the website I bought it from, it says that the running wattage of this model is 230 watts, and the peak, or start up wattage is 460 watts.

I'm definitely no expert when it comes to dealing with electricity, but from what I understand, 230 watts, at my 120 V in my electrical socket translates to 1.92 amps. 460 watts to 3.83 amps. The breaker in my electrical panel is rated for 15 amps. Simple math tells me that I can run 3 freezers on the same breaker safely, or 7 freezers, as long as I make sure they don't all start at the same time.

Why then, does everything I come across tell me that I should have a dedicated line for my freezer, with nothing else plugged into the breaker?

The manual for the freezer tells me this, I've seen that online somewhere, and my dad, who has been an industrial electrical his whole life is telling me that, though he can't tell me why.

Is this recommendation based in fact in any way? Or is this some old superstition that refuses to die?

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    Well, if the owner's manual says put it in its own breaker, but you don't, you may have trouble making an insurance claim if/when that becomes an issue... Fridge typically does have high peak current demand. And putting it in a separate circuit may reduce the risk of spoiled food if you need to turn off breakers to work on something else.. None of which is authoritatively the reason, but they're decent reasons.
    – keshlam
    Apr 1 at 1:38
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    Even your "simple math" is extra conservative. Breakers trip on an inverse time curve, 5x the rated current should trip between 4 and 10 seconds and be within NEMA specs lh3.googleusercontent.com/… Apr 1 at 4:52
  • This is a matter of opinion and overall household strategy--either you want an indication of a failure or you don't want interdependency. Smart notification devices expand the options further.
    – isherwood
    Apr 1 at 13:53
  • Keep in mind all outlets in a garage need GFCI. Do you really want to share the circuit with other appliances that might trip the circuit or GFCI? Apr 4 at 0:08
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica - do I want to? No. Do I prefer it over running a completely new line from my electrical room? Absolutely. As far as I can tell, not a single answer or comment on this thread even remotely suggests that the freezer and fridge, with their power draw as it is, will ever trip the breaker. Everyone, including the fridge/freezer manual, seems to be worried about some scenario where something else plugged into the breaker trips the breaker while I'm using it, and I just ignore the power loss and let the breaker be off, and my food spoil.
    – John
    May 4 at 16:16

3 Answers 3

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Certain appliances, such as freezer, refrigerator, or furnace, are critical -- in the sense that if the power to such an appliance is cut without the home residents being aware, the results can be expensive. Food can spoil, pipes can freeze and burst, etc.

Such appliances should have private breakers to avoid losing power when some other appliance trips their breaker. You don't want to lose all your frozen food because the garage door opener shorted out.

In brief, wiring the freezer to its own breaker protects your food from an unnoticed nuisance trip from another load.

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    I always figured it was about food safety. It takes a careful interpretation of the Code, but I like to put likely freezer outlets and kitchen lights on the same circuit. Most people won't go long with tripped kitchen lights. Apr 1 at 5:02
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    And most places don't have more than one freezer, so saying the freezer should be on a dedicated circuit is a convenient shorthand for don't put anything else on the circuit. Apr 1 at 11:17
  • This is particularly true when the circuit is protected by a RCD.
    – Dale M
    Apr 1 at 12:23
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Since your voltage rating is 115V/60 it is pretty obvious where you are. For the completeness I'll add a related answer: In some countries (notably my own, Norway) all fixed position appliances above a certain amperage has to be alone on their own circuit in 'The Code'. It would likely have had to be on a separate circuit here as well. Some freezers or combi fridges do require up above ten amps short term.

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Sharing a circuit with other appliances increases the risk of overloading the circuit, It can lead to overheating, tripped breakers, or even electrical fires. This is why you should have a dedicated line for my freezer, with nothing else plugged into the breaker.

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