Does a Microwave Need a Dedicated Circuit?

Have you ever wondered if the microwave in your kitchen needs a dedicated circuit? Many people don’t know the answer to this question, which can lead to electrical problems and even safety hazards when using these appliances. So, what is the reason for a dedicated circuit? Why is it important to have one? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about dedicating circuits to microwaves. We’ll look at safety and efficiency reasons, as well as code requirements and how to install a new circuit. By the end of this guide, you’ll understand why a dedicated circuit is recommended and how to go about installing one. Let’s get started!

Why a Dedicated Circuit is Recommended?

Why A Dedicated Circuit Is Recommended?
When it comes to using a microwave, you might be wondering if a dedicated circuit is really necessary. With all the conflicting information out there, it’s easy to feel perplexed. However, with a little bit of knowledge, understanding why a dedicated circuit is recommended becomes much clearer. In this section, we’ll explore the various reasons why a dedicated circuit is the way to go for your microwave. From safety to efficiency, we’ll highlight the benefits of having a dedicated circuit and break down all you need to know. So, sit back and let’s dive into the world of microwave circuits. And if you’re interested in learning more about microwave power consumption, check out our guide on the subject.

Safety Reasons

When it comes to using a microwave, ensuring safety should be a top priority. One way to do this is by having a dedicated circuit for your microwave. This means that the microwave will have its own electrical circuit and will not be sharing electrical current with other devices in your home. This reduces the chances of electrical overloading, which in turn can pose risks such as electrical fires and electrocution.

Here are some safety reasons why a dedicated circuit for your microwave is necessary:

Reasons Explanation
Electrical Overloading When you use other high-wattage appliances at the same time as your microwave, the electrical load on the circuit can cause malfunctions, ranging from tripped circuit breakers to fires or damaged circuit breakers
Electrical Fires Overloading can potentially cause electrical fires, it can also cause damage to the microwave itself, which will be further costly to fix
Electrocution Having one device on one circuit can better protect against electrocution and, thereby, reduce electrical risk, especially for people with young children at home who might have accidental contact with the microwave

Having a dedicated circuit can also help to prolong the lifespan of the microwave. When sharing electrical current with other devices, there is a likelihood of fluctuations that can be harmful to the microwave, reducing its functionality and durability.
All these reasons greatly emphasize the need for a dedicated circuit for your microwave. Itโ€™s essential to prioritize safety when it comes to electrical use in the home, and having a dedicated circuit is one way to achieve that.

Efficiency Reasons

Efficiency is a major consideration when it comes to microwave usage, which is why having a dedicated circuit is recommended. Efficiency is the ability to complete a task with the least amount of energy input possible. If you have multiple appliances connected to one circuit, some appliances may not get the required power to function properly. When you plug in your microwave, it draws a significant amount of power that can cause other appliances or lights on the same circuit to flicker, dim or even turn off for a moment. This leads to inefficiency and can ultimately affect the performance of your microwave.

To understand the importance of having a dedicated circuit for your microwave, let’s take a look at some of the efficiency reasons why it is recommended:

Reasons Explanation
Power Consumption: A microwave requires 20 amps of power and if it is sharing a circuit with other kitchen appliances, it may not get the required power to run smoothly. This can cause the microwave to take longer than usual to heat up food or even lead to food not being heated evenly. A dedicated circuit ensures that the microwave gets the required amount of power without fluctuations.
Reduces Tripping: When too much power is drawn from a circuit, it can trip the circuit breaker. This can be a frequent occurrence if your microwave shares a circuit with other kitchen appliances. Not only does it cause inconvenience, but it can also lead to damage to the circuit breaker or even the microwave. A dedicated circuit reduces the risk of circuit overload and tripping.
Improves Lifespan: With a dedicated circuit, the microwave can operate at optimal levels without any disturbances or fluctuations in power supply. This results in less wear and tear on the microwave, which ultimately leads to longer lifespan and reduced need for repairs or replacements.

Having a dedicated circuit for your microwave is recommended for efficiency reasons. It reduces the risk of tripping, ensures the microwave gets the required amount of power, improves lifespan, and ultimately leads to better performance. A dedicated circuit is therefore a worthy investment to consider for your kitchen.

To learn more about microwave power settings and types of microwaves, check out our guide on adjusting microwave power settings and our guide on comparing microwave power when shopping.

Reduces Circuit Overload

Reducing circuit overload is another significant advantage of having a dedicated circuit for your microwave. When a microwave is connected to an overloaded circuit, it may stop working or malfunction. An overloaded circuit can also result in tripping of the circuit breaker or blowing of the fuse, which can lead to a power outage. This can be problematic, especially if you’re in the middle of cooking an important meal.

By having a dedicated circuit for your microwave, it reduces the risk of circuit overload. This is because a dedicated circuit ensures that the microwave is the only appliance drawing power from that circuit. This, in turn, means that there is no risk of the circuit overloading, and the microwave can work smoothly without any interruptions.

In fact, having a dedicated circuit for high-power appliances like microwaves is essential if you want to avoid circuit overload. Other appliances in your kitchen like blenders, toasters, and refrigerators may also draw a significant amount of power. It’s always advisable to separate high-power appliances like a microwave onto their own dedicated circuits to avoid any overload issues.

If you frequently use your microwave to cook high-power food types like meat or soups, having a dedicated circuit becomes even more critical. Refer to our article on microwave power for food types to learn how a high-power microwave can be beneficial for your cooking needs, or check out our article exploring the benefits and drawbacks of high-power microwaves to make an informed decision.

All of these factors make a strong case for having a dedicated circuit for your microwave. If you’re still using your microwave on a shared circuit, consider upgrading to a dedicated one to avoid any potential hazards or inconveniences. In the next section of the article, we’ll explore what the National Electrical Code (NEC) says about dedicated circuits.

Code Requirements

When it comes to installing an electric appliance in your home, understanding the electrical code requirements is crucial. For microwaves, the code requirements may vary depending on the state and country you reside in. Here are some key code requirements that you need to be aware of before installing a microwave in your kitchen:

  • A microwave must be supplied by an individual branch circuit: This means that you cannot run any other devices on the same circuit as your microwave. It must have a dedicated circuit as it consumes a high amount of power. This ensures that the appliance doesn’t draw too much power, causing other devices on the same circuit to trip.
  • The circuit must be a 120-volt circuit: A 120-volt circuit is the standard voltage supplied to residential properties. Ensure that the dedicated circuit for your microwave is 120 volts.
  • The circuit must have a minimum rating of 15 amps: The minimum rating of the circuit will ensure that the circuit can handle the power requirement of the microwave. A dedicated 15-amp circuit is sufficient for most household microwaves.
  • The circuit must incorporate a single receptacle outlet: This means that there should be only one outlet on the circuit dedicated solely to the microwave.
  • The circuit must be grounded: Grounding is a critical safety feature that protects you and your home’s other electrical devices from electrical shock.

It is important to note that these code requirements aim to ensure your safety while using the microwave. The National Electrical Code (NEC) significantly recommends that you follow the above-specified requirements for installing a new circuit for your microwave.

Failure to follow the code requirements may lead to an overloaded circuit that could cause electrical fires and other hazards. It is wise to consult a professional electrician for proper installation of a new circuit for your microwave.

So, make sure to take the code requirements into account when planning on setting up a dedicated circuit for your microwave. It is crucial to comply with the code requirements to ensure your safety and that of your household.

What Does the Code Say?

What Does The Code Say?
The electrical installation code is a set of regulations that stipulates the electrical requirements for a building and its occupants, including the use of dedicated circuits for various appliances. But what exactly does the code say about having a dedicated circuit for your microwave? Let’s take a closer look at National Electrical Code (NEC) and other relevant requirements to understand the underlying reasons for having a dedicated circuit for your microwave.

National Electrical Code (NEC)

According to the National Electrical Code (NEC), a microwave oven requires its own dedicated circuit. This means, the circuit should be solely responsible for delivering power to the microwave. No other devices or appliances should be running on that circuit while the microwave is in use.

The NEC is a United States standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment. It is updated regularly to keep up with advancements in technology and to ensure public safety. The Code serves as the basis for electrical regulations in all 50 states.

The NEC has some specific requirements for a dedicated circuit for a microwave. Here are some of them:

Type of Circuit Standard
Voltage Rating 120 volts
Amperage Rating 20 Amperes
Wire Type Must be at least 12-gauge wire
Location of the Receptacle Above the countertop and within 2 feet of the edge of the sink

If your microwave requires more power than 120 volts or 20 amperes, you may need to install a special circuit for it.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions to the rule. In some cases, built-in microwaves may share a circuit with other appliances like a refrigerator or a garbage disposal if certain conditions are met. You can ask a licensed electrician to help you decide if this is viable for your situation.

Following the NEC guidelines is not only vital for safety reasons but also required by law. Ensure that you install a dedicated circuit for your microwave, and do so in compliance with the National Electrical Code. A dedicated circuit is a wise investment and can help you avoid electrical problems down the line. Learn about low power microwaves for your kitchen or optimize your microwave power consumption and save on your electricity bill.

Other Requirements

Apart from the National Electrical Code, there may be other requirements that apply in your local area regarding the installation of dedicated circuits. It is essential to check with your local electrician or electrical inspector for any additional requirements that may apply. Below are some other requirements that may be necessary for a microwave to have its dedicated circuit:

  • Amperage rating: The circuit must have a sufficient amperage rating to handle the microwave’s power requirements. For instance, if the microwave is rated at 1200 watts and is powered by a 120-volt outlet, then a circuit with a 20-amp rating is required to handle the load.
  • Location: The location of the outlet may also have specific requirements. For example, in the kitchen, outlets should be positioned a certain distance above countertops and sinks to prevent water from coming in contact with the electrical circuit.
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI): GFCIs are safety devices that protect against electrocution hazards in damp locations. Some areas, such as kitchens, require GFCI-protected outlets. Make sure to check with your local electrician or inspector if a GFCI is required for your microwave circuit.
  • Wire size: The size of the wire used to connect the dedicated circuit must be adequate for the amperage rating of the circuit. Most 20-amp circuits will require 12-gauge wire, while larger circuits will need 10 or 8-gauge wire.
  • Circuit breaker: The circuit breaker must be the correct size for the circuit and rated to trip at the appropriate amperage. It is essential to make sure that the breaker is accurately labeled to avoid overloading the circuit.

It is important to adhere to all requirements regarding the installation of dedicated circuits. Additional requirements aside from the National Electrical Code may apply, and it is crucial to consult an electrician or electrical inspector to ensure proper installation.


There are a few exceptions to the rule of needing a dedicated circuit for your microwave. These exceptions can vary based on the type of microwave you have and the electrical capacity of your home. Here are some of the possible exceptions:

Type of Microwave Exception
Low Power Microwaves Low power microwaves that require less than 750 watts of electricity may not need a dedicated circuit.
Countertop Microwaves If you have a countertop microwave that is plugged into a wall outlet, you may not need a dedicated circuit. However, you will need to ensure that no other high-power appliances are plugged into the same circuit.
Built-in Microwaves If you have a built-in microwave that is hardwired into your electrical system, it may not need a dedicated circuit as it is typically installed on a circuit with other kitchen appliances.

It’s important to note that these exceptions do not apply in all cases and it’s recommended to check with a licensed electrician before deciding if your microwave needs a dedicated circuit or not. Following these exceptions without proper consultation may result in electrical overload, which can be a fire hazard and lead to damage to your home’s electrical system.

How to Install a New Circuit?

If you’re not confident with electrical work, the thought of installing a new circuit might seem daunting. However, with some guidance and the right tools, adding a dedicated circuit for your microwave can be a manageable project. In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps involved in installing a new circuit, so you can be confident and ready to tackle this project. From hiring an electrician to doing it yourself, we’ll cover all the factors you need to consider before embarking on this task. Let’s dive in!

Hiring an Electrician

If you’re not comfortable with electrical work, hiring an electrician to install a dedicated circuit for your microwave is the best option. While it may be tempting to save money and do it yourself, working with electricity can be dangerous and even deadly.

Here are some important factors to consider when hiring an electrician:

Factor Details
Experience Look for an electrician with several years of experience and a good reputation. Ask for references and read reviews online.
License and Insurance Make sure the electrician is licensed and insured. This protects you in case of an accident or damage to your property.
Cost Get quotes from multiple electricians to ensure you’re getting a fair price. Keep in mind that the cheapest option isn’t always the best.
Timeline Ask the electrician how long the project will take and make sure it aligns with your schedule. It’s also important to clarify if any unexpected delays may occur.
Communication Choose an electrician who communicates clearly and promptly. You want to make sure you’re on the same page throughout the project.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice concerns during the hiring process. It’s important to feel confident in your electrician’s abilities and trust their expertise.


If you are feeling confident in your electrical skills, you can install a new circuit for your microwave yourself. However, it is important to note that electrical work can be dangerous and it is recommended to follow all safety precautions and local codes. Here are some steps to consider if you decide to go the DIY route:

  • Evaluate Circuit Needs: First, determine the electrical requirements of your microwave. Check the manufacturer’s information or the label on the back of the appliance to find out the wattage and voltage requirements.
  • Gather Supplies: Purchase the necessary supplies such as wiring, circuit breaker, outlet, and tools. Make sure to choose wires that are of the appropriate gauge for the circuit and the length of wire needed.
  • Turn Off Power: Turn off the power at the main circuit breaker box and verify the power is off using a voltage tester before starting any work.
  • Run the Wire: Run the electrical wire from the main circuit breaker box to the location of the new outlet. Secure the wire properly using staples or cable ties and drill holes wherever necessary.
  • Wire the Circuit: Connect the wires to the circuit breaker and the outlet, following the manufacturer’s instructions. It is recommended to use wire nuts and electrical tape to secure the connections.
  • Install Circuit Breaker: Install the circuit breaker in the main circuit breaker box and make sure it is the appropriate amperage for your circuit. Make sure to label the circuit breaker for future reference.
  • Test the Circuit: Once the installation is complete, turn the power back on and test the circuit with a multimeter or voltage tester to make sure everything is working correctly.

Remember: Even with the best preparation and care, electrical work can be dangerous. If you are not comfortable or confident in your ability to complete the installation safely, it is always best to hire an experienced electrician.

Costs Involved

When it comes to installing a dedicated circuit for your microwave, there are several costs involved. These can vary depending on whether you hire an electrician or decide to do it yourself.

Costs Involved in Hiring an Electrician:

| Service | Cost |
| Electrical inspection | $150-$350 |
| Labor | $50-$100 per hour |
| Materials | $50-$150 |
| Permit | $50-$300 |

The cost of hiring an electrician to install a dedicated circuit for your microwave can range from $300 to $1000. This includes the cost of an electrical inspection and permit, labor charges, and materials.

Costs Involved in DIY:

| Tools and materials | Cost |
| Saftey glasses | $5-$20 |
| Wire stripper | $10-$20 |
| Cable staples | $5-$10 |
| Wire nuts | $5-$10 |
| Circuit breaker | $5-$20 |
| NM-B cable | $20-$50 |
| Conduit | $50-$100 |

If you decide to do it yourself, the cost of tools and materials can range from $100 to $200. The cost can vary depending on the quality of the tools and materials you choose to purchase.

It’s important to note that when it comes to electrical work, safety should always be the top priority. If you don’t have any electrical experience, it’s recommended that you hire a professional electrician to ensure that the work is done safely and up to code.

While the cost of installing a dedicated circuit for your microwave may seem expensive, it’s an investment in the safety and efficiency of your home. Plus, it can prevent the circuit from becoming overloaded, which can cause damage to your appliances and potentially even a fire hazard.

Factors to Consider

When considering installing a new circuit for your microwave, there are several factors that you should take into account. These can include the location of the microwave, the capacity of your electrical system, and the cost of installation. Let’s take a closer look at these considerations in the table below:

Factor Description
Location Consider where you plan to install the microwave and whether it’s close enough to your electrical panel. If it’s too far away, you may need to install a new circuit, which can be more expensive.
Electrical Capacity Take into account the capacity of your electrical system. If you have an older system or one that is already at capacity, you may need to upgrade your system before installing the new circuit, which can add to the overall cost.
Installation Costs It’s essential to keep in mind the cost of installation when deciding whether or not to install a dedicated circuit. Hiring a licensed electrician to do the work for you can be more expensive than attempting to do it yourself.
DIY vs. Hiring Deciding whether to DIY (do it yourself) or hire an electrician depends on your level of electrical experience. If you’re not comfortable working with electrical wiring, it’s recommended that you hire an experienced electrician.
Materials Required Ensure that you have all the necessary tools and materials before beginning the installation process, such as a wire stripper, cable cutters, and electrical tape. This can help prevent any delays or complications during the installation process.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to install a dedicated circuit for your microwave. Keep in mind that the safety and efficiency benefits of having a dedicated circuit may outweigh the costs and effort involved in installation.

Tools and Materials Required

To install a dedicated circuit for your microwave, you’ll require some essential tools and materials. Here’s a rundown of everything that you might need:

Tools Required Materials Required
Screwdriver set Copper wires (12 gauge)
Wire strippers Plastic-coated cable clamps
Hammer 2-pole circuit breaker (20 amps)
Pliers Electrical tape
Drill machine Outlet box with NM clamps

These are the basic tools and materials that you will need to get started. However, remember that the specific tools and materials required can vary depending on the installation location, electrical wiring configuration, and other factors.

Always remember that safety is the first priority when it comes to electricity. Make sure that you have read and understood the instructions for each tool you’re using and that you have taken all the necessary precautions before starting the installation process.

Also, consult with a professional electrician or local electric code authority if you have any doubts regarding the installation process or electrical codes. A small mistake in the installation can have disastrous consequences, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Now that you’ve got all the tools and materials required, let’s move on to the installation process.


In conclusion, it is important to remember that a microwave does require a dedicated circuit for optimal safety and efficiency. Not only does it reduce the risk of electrical fires, but it also ensures that your other appliances and electronics can function properly without overloading the circuit.

However, before installing a new circuit, it is important to consult with a licensed electrician to ensure that you are meeting all code requirements and taking necessary safety precautions. While DIY installation may seem like a cost-effective option, it is important to remember that electrical work can be dangerous and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Furthermore, even if you are able to install a dedicated circuit yourself, there are still costs involved for equipment and materials. Additionally, you will need to consider the amount of power required for the microwave and whether or not your electrical system can handle the added demand.

Overall, a dedicated circuit for your microwave is a worthwhile investment and a necessary precaution for the safety of your home and family. By following the guidelines set forth by the National Electrical Code and consulting with a licensed electrician, you can ensure that your electrical system is up to code and functioning properly for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a regular outlet for my microwave?

It is not recommended to use a regular outlet for a microwave as it can overload the circuit and cause safety hazards.

Does my microwave need a dedicated circuit?

It is recommended for microwaves to have a dedicated circuit for safety and efficiency reasons.

What are the benefits of a dedicated circuit for my microwave?

A dedicated circuit can increase safety, efficiency, and reduce circuit overload.

What happens if my microwave doesn’t have a dedicated circuit?

Using a microwave without a dedicated circuit can overload the circuit and cause power outages or fires.

What is the National Electrical Code (NEC)?

The NEC is a standard for electrical installations set by the National Fire Protection Association.

What are the NEC requirements for a dedicated circuit?

The NEC requires all fixed appliances to have a dedicated circuit.

Can I install a new circuit myself?

It is possible to install a new circuit yourself, but it is recommended to hire a licensed electrician for safety reasons.

What factors should I consider before installing a new circuit?

You should consider the electrical load of your home, the cost of materials and labor, and the type of circuit breaker needed.

What tools and materials do I need to install a new circuit?

You will need wiring, a breaker box, junction boxes, a breaker, wire nuts, electrical tape, a screwdriver, and wire strippers.

How much does it cost to install a new circuit?

The cost of installing a new circuit can vary depending on the location, electrical load, and the electrician’s fees. It can range from $200 to $1000.


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