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Should a Dishwasher Be on Its Own Circuit?

Should a Dishwasher Be on Its Own Circuit?

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, there must be a thousand questions on your mind. One of those is probably whether or not your dishwasher needs its own electrical circuit.

According to the electrical code, the dishwasher should be on its own circuit. The dedicated dishwasher circuit can’t supply any other appliances, lights, fixtures, or outlets. In addition, the circuit that is servicing the dishwasher also needs to have a circuit breaker with at least 15-amps.

In this article, I will explain the purpose of having dishwashers and other major appliances connected to their own circuit. Additionally, I will clarify how you can recognize whether your home is equipped to properly handle high-consuming devices such as these. Enjoy reading!

Why Does a Dishwasher Need Its Own Circuit?

Some online sources might claim that connecting a dishwasher and another major appliance such as a refrigerator on a stronger (20-amp) breaker circuit is fine. Those sources are not only wrong, but they might be putting you in danger.

Bigger kitchen appliances such as dishwashers require their own electrical circuit because of the power they need to operate. Connecting more than one of these appliances per electrical circuit is likely to cause power overloads, which can have serious consequences.

The consequences of overloading the circuit with multiple appliances can be less severe, such as tripping the breaker. On rare occasions, however, an electrical overload can lead to significant electrical damage and even fire.

Other Kitchen Appliances That Need Their Own Circuit

Dishwashers aren’t the only piece of kitchen electronics that should be connected separately.

The list of kitchen appliances that require a separate electrical circuit includes:

  • Dishwashers
  • Garbage disposals
  • Refrigerators
  • Stovetops
  • Ovens
  • Built-in microwaves

Running more than one of the listed appliances on the same circuit puts you in violation of the electrical code, meaning your home might not pass future inspections. Even more importantly, it exposes all of the residents to electrical fire hazards. 

Modern kitchens are equipped with at least seven 20-amp circuits to prevent potential disasters and enable us to plug in all of the typical household appliances. This amount of kitchen circuits should be more than enough for an average household (source).

Can a Regular Outlet Handle a Dishwasher?

The question of whether dishwashers and similar kitchen electronics require a particular type of outlet is not an uncommon one to ask after finding out that these devices need their own electrical circuit.

As long as the circuit leading to it is dedicated, grounded, and protected with an adequate breaker (15 or 20 amp), a dishwasher can be plugged into a regular electrical outlet and doesn’t require a special receptacle. The installer can choose whether to hardwire the dishwasher or install a plug.

The last element mentioned highly depends on the circumstances that the installer runs into while installing the dishwasher. Keep in mind that most new dishwashers come with no plug installed, allowing either of the connection options for the installer.

Other Dishwasher Electrical Requirements

In addition to being on its own circuit, every dishwasher needs to fulfill one more important requirement.

According to the latest changes in the National Electrical Code, every dishwasher needs to be GFCI-protected (source). GFCI (ground-fault-circuit-interrupter) receptacles have been one of the electrical code requirements ever since 1973. 

At first, the requirement referred to outdoor areas only. Later, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other spaces where a water source is present were added to the list.

Somehow, one of the few home devices that is in constant contact with both electricity and water has managed to squeeze past getting on the list for close to 50 years. Luckily, that changed in 2020.

How Do I Know if I Have a Dedicated Circuit?

Operating major electrical appliances requires a dedicated circuit for each of those appliances. Each of these dedicated circuits has its own circuit breaker located in the electrical box. Both of these measures ensure that the device connected to the circuit can run safely and efficiently. 

Recognizing if you have a dedicated circuit for your dishwasher or any other major electrical device is relatively straightforward.

Dedicated circuits have a single slot for plugging in appliances, while regular circuits can have multiple receptacles. Looking at the electrical box, all of the dedicated circuits should be clearly labeled. Additionally, dedicated circuits typically have a 20-amp breaker which is clearly marked.

I recommend consulting an electrician to those living in older houses built before the 1970s. There’s no safer method than letting an expert determine whether their home has a dedicated dishwasher circuit.

How Much Does It Cost To Install a Dedicated Circuit?

While extremely rare, finding out that your home has no dedicated circuits for kitchen appliances is not unheard of. In this case, the price of installation must be another one of the major questions on your mind.

Installing a dedicated circuit costs just under $600, on average. However, it should be noted that the price can be highly variable depending on factors such as materials used and time spent on the installation. Expert sources put it in the range of $250 to $1,500 (source).

Due to the extreme fluctuation in pricing, getting a quote from multiple professionals is highly recommended with circuit installation. Industry experts from kompareit.com suggest you make sure to confirm whether the installation price is included in the quote before making the final choice.

Conclusion

Even though it might seem fine to plug multiple devices into the same outlet, all major kitchen appliances require separate electrical circuits to function safely. Both the National Electric Code and the National Fire Prevention Association’s rules agree on this.

As one of the top household electricity consumers, dishwashers are no exception. Making sure that your home is equipped to handle a new dishwasher is a must.

Ultimately, a dedicated electrical circuit will not only give you peace of mind when it comes to safety. It will also ensure that your brand-new dishwasher works to its fullest capacity.

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