Dedicated circuits provide power to an appliance through a single, dedicated circuit. Appliances that require dedicated circuits have higher voltage requirements than can be safely supplied by a standard 120-volt household receptacle, so a dedicated 220-volt receptacle needs to be installed. Dedicated circuits are necessary to prevent dangerous overloads that could cause wiring to overheat and circuit to trip repeatedly, which could result in an electrical fire.
The National Electrical Code calls for most major appliances to have dedicated circuits. Here are some typical cases where dedicated circuits are installed.
Kitchen appliances often contains heating elements and large motors that draw a lot of electrical current. Ranges, wall ovens, some garbage disposals, dishwashers and freezers require dedicated circuits. Most refrigerators will require a dedicated circuit.
Microwave ovens often demand dedicated circuits, but it will depend on the wattage of the unit and whether the microwave is built-in or a stand-alone countertop design. The National Electrical Code requires one for fixed equipment, so a circuit must be set aside for any built-in oven or microwave. Small countertop models typically use less power than full-size units. Consequently, they're less likely to need their own circuit.
Washer and Dryer
Washers and dryers have powerful motors heating elements, making a dedicated circuit necessary to prevent overloading the electrical system. Generally, any equipment that runs on 220-volt power will need its own circuit.
Do EV Chargers Require a Dedicated Circuit?
Not always. It depends on the type of charger. Level 1 EV chargers are commonly supplied by the manufacturer when purching an electric vehicle. They plug into a standard 120 Volt, 20 Amp circuit wall outlet. Because they charge very slowly at low power, they can be plugged into a standard household circuit. However, for better performance, many EV owners choose to have a dedicated Level 2 charger installed. Level 2 chargers are high powered to charge EV batteries much faster. For this reason they need to be plugged into a 220-volt receptacle, or hard-wired to a 220 dedicated circuit.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Heat pumps, furnaces and air conditioners are among the most energy-intensive appliances in the home and will need to each have a dedicated circuit. Electric baseboard heating is also going to require a dedicated circuit. All ductless mini-splits and some window air conditioners will also require a dedicated circuit.
Many compact appliances do not need dedicated circuits. Examples include box fans, ceiling fans, slow cookers, food processors and sewing machines. Such units produce limited amounts of heat and don't have particularly large motors. On the other hand, certain small appliances can easily overload circuits in combination with other devices. Toasters, toaster ovens, coffee makers, hot plates and blenders are capable of doing so.
The need for a separate circuit differs depending on the electrical system and appliances in a specific home. It's important to follow all federal, state and local laws when upgrading electrical wiring.
Have questions about dedicated circuits? Give us a call. The licensed electrician's at Clover Electric can help determine what equipment in your home needs a dedicated circuit.