Fridge on wall switch

I inspected a rehab today apartment to condo where the fridge was plugged into an outlet controlled by a wall switch (it was the only outlet on the switch). By the configuration of the kitchen it was obvious the builder intended for the fridge in this location. Other than the obvious, is there a specific code to disallow this. I searched NEC and can find nothing specific (if NEC can be specific).

Lou P

Poor design but not a code issue. My guess is it was a wiring error

Recommend a licensed electrician remove switch, make appropriate connections inside the switch box & install a blank cover plate, problem solved.


That Builder really needs to find another Electrician to do his work, and/or maybe followup a little better on his Subs work. He should have caught this before you got there to do your inspection. Can’t see how the local AHJ missed it either.
One of the other threads noted a Refrigerator or Freezer connected to a GFCI circuit.
IMHO…Got to wonder about our jobs sometimes.


There is nothing to written (expept stupidity) to not have a refrigerator or frezzer on a GFCI circuit. All we can do is point it out and advise our client as to why it is not a good idea.

Most AHJ that I know of (at least down here) would never find that issue. they dont check the switches to see what they work. They just want to know that there is electricity to the outlet.

Im willing to bet that this kitchen was remodeled and the electricain took the cheapest and laziest way out to wire that outlet.

I don’t see why there are so many that are against this idea. GFI protection is now required for commercial kitchens including refrigerators. If the refrigerator trips the GFI it is leaking current somewhere.

Remember the Code is about LIFE safety, not about spoiled milk or a freezer of food.

Which would result in the breaker tripping.
As long as the refer is plugged into a proper grounded receptacle it is fine. No “life safety” issue here IMO.
In new construction there is ABSOLUTELY NO reason for a refer or freezer to be on a GFI in a finished area.

Commercial kitchens are used every day, day in and day out.
Commercial kitchens do not go on vacation.

There will be in 2008 :slight_smile:


I thought I remembered a change was on the horizon.

Not in a “finished” area. Only unfinished.

I have a strong feeling there will be MANY local amendments to our beloved NEC in 2008.
Too many stupid changes IMO.

Thats ok as the 2008 will never be used on new construction till after they all come out of bankruptcy


I never thought about that, but you’re right, the refrig plug was not an exception to the gfci requirement, it was just not a requirement to begin with since it does not serve the countertop. So I guess this means it will now be required to be on an AFCI circuit. Of course then it will have 30ma of GFP.

You will be putting the fridge on an AFCI in 2008 and that is a 30ma level GFPE

Petey, old fridges do leak current when they get old. It is an internal short in the compressor. It may be neutral current or it may just be an arcing fault that won’t trip a breaker. I also think that is why they use more power. I bet if you open up the freon system there are signs of burning in there.

I have an old compressor around here that trips a GFCI. If I get bored I will try to get a look on a scope to see where it is leaking.


There is two place i know of most common " current " leakage on refridagator one is compressor motor winding they will break down over the years and they will somehow leak thru the oil and second kinda pretty common is starting capaitor they go funky too it will trip as well but once a while but not too often but it is true on frost free fridges the heater can trip as well too.

Merci , Marc

So I guess we will be seeing a lot more of those OLD General Motors and Kelvinator refers and freezers in the dump in the near future. :wink:

To the (anonymous) spineless jerk who called me names in private you need to read the posts.

My comment was regarding older equipment, as Marc referred to, being on GFI and AFCI breakers. It was partly tongue-in-cheek but is accurate.