Not all of us have a big kitchen or a large dining area. So, trying to arrange your stuff with space-saving ideas in mind makes sense. It is probably the reason this question comes to mind. Can you put a microwave on top of a fridge?
Yes, you can do that but only upon fulfilling certain conditions. The microwave should weigh between 20 lbs. and 40 lbs. and not contribute to heat trapping on top. Make sure both the fridge and the microwave are powered on different circuits.
You got the answer, didn’t you? But you may want to know more about these conditions and the reasons they are to be met. Well, keep reading.
Can You Put a Microwave on Top of a Fridge?
The following discussion is closely associated with four words, such as heat, weight, circuit, and ventilation. By the time you’ll learn why these words matter, you’ll have no confusion.
Risks of Heat Trapping
There are concerns about heat trapping which is believed to occur when one electronic appliance is placed on top of another. Those who support this thought argue that excess heat is released through a fridge’s top area when a microwave is put on top as it only traps the heat, which is not good.
Trapped heat causes the fridge’s motor to work two times to keep the inside of the appliance cool. This double-time duty takes a toll on the motor which shortens the lifespan of the unit over time. Needless to say, you might see higher utility bills. The question is if the concern is valid. Let’s get the answer
Fortunately, modern refrigerators work differently. The coolants in the unit get pressurized and heated up by the compressor. Then again, they cool down while running through the several pipes installed inside the appliance. Nothing but the compressor is the area where much of the heat gets concentrated.
The majority of refrigerators have their compressors near the bottom at the back. The particular position of the compressor allows the heat to escape through its back instead of the unit’s top part. But still, a little amount of heat is released through the top area, which is not enough to damage the unit. Covered or not, the heated area shouldn’t be a problem.
Not all homeowners want to take the matter for granted but some might need to consider the idea of putting an oven on top of their fridges. Are you one of the latter group? Try the following option for greater safety.
Put a suitable rack on the refrigerator top and make sure the rack’s design is such that it doesn’t take up a lot of the surface. The rack can allow for adequate airflow through the top area while holding the microwave.
An appliance like a microwave oven is only used for how long, a few minutes. A microwave oven cannot cause any harm to the larger unit by running for such a brief period. Most fridges have their coils to dissipate the excess heat through the back, not the top (as mentioned above).
The ‘Weight’ Factor
A standard fridge holds most of the lightweight household items without a problem. You can keep your grocery bags, cereal boxes, fruit baskets, vegetable boxes, and the like. But a microwave weighs at least a few times as much, bringing up the question, and rightfully so.
Should you place an oven on top of your refrigerator? The primary purpose of having a fridge is not to hold items on top. Models with wheels are only good enough to hold the weight of the units, not necessarily heavy appliances like wine coolers. So, how much are we looking at?
Most refrigerators, especially the standard and larger models, can handle up to 25 kilograms or 60 pounds on the top. However, mini fridges shouldn’t be tested with that much weight. Half the maximum weight can be considered for smaller units.
Does a typical microwave fit into this weight category? The overall dimensions of a microwave oven are important, and those numbers will help you determine if your fridge is in an ideal state to hold an oven on its top.
A compact model that’s chosen by average households has the following dimensions,
- width: 24 inches
- height: 14 inches
- depth: 16 inches
- weight: 1.5 to 1.9 cubic feet
A microwave oven with the above numbers on it should have the capacity to meet your needs when you want to prepare substantial dishes. In practice, these are representative of countertop microwave ovens.
These appliances come in different weight categories, starting with 20 lbs. and running up to 100 lbs. Most of the models purchased by homeowners weigh anywhere between 23 lbs. and 45 lbs. To make the choice easy for you, below is a list of three different styles of fridges in terms of their dimensions and weights.
- Compact: 20 to 30 lbs.
- Standard: 34 to 36 lbs.
- Full Size: 40 lbs. to 60 lbs.
What do you get from the above list? You can put your microwave on top of your fridge as long as it is either a compact or standard one. The full-size style is not out of the picture, but you want to avoid hitting the maximum (recommended) limit since safety is a priority.
Can Your Microwave and Fridge Use the Same Circuit?
As required by the National Electric Code (NEC) 2020, separate power circuits are required by a fridge and a microwave. Both appliances must be powered on a dedicated circuit. The same applies to other units like freezer, dishwasher, etc.
Electrical Requirements for a Fridge and a Microwave
Electric Codes have been changed from time to time to address the increased power requirements of modern electronic appliances. A refrigerator from the 1970s may draw considerably more power than any of today’s models. But modern fridges may require up to three times the energy as they keep running.
Both a microwave and a refrigerator being plugged into the same circuit may not bring positive consequences. A countertop oven usually requires 1,200 to 1,500 watts. Plugged into the same circuit, the refrigerator may cycle on at the same time the oven is running.
Before plugging any of them in, you should check the underside or back of the appliances to check how much power they can consume. If you see the combined consumption of current exceeds 15 amps without reaching 20 amps, a 20A outlet should be enough. If the combined consumption exceeds 20 amps on a 20A outlet, this might result in a blown breaker.
According to the NEC, a refrigerator must be run following these requirements.
- Plugged into a dedicated 120V, 20A circuit
- Integrated with Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupting (AFCI) protection
- Integrated with Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupting (GFCI) protection (for plugs located in the basement, or garage, or as close as 6 feet to the sink)
- A single outlet for both or an AFCI/GFCI breaker
For countertop ovens, most of the requirements are identical except for GFCI protection which is not necessary because of the outlet in an oven being concealed and having protection from moisture. Preferred installations include an AFCI outlet and a breaker.
Ventilation for a Microwave
So far, we’ve talked about a fridge’s susceptibility to heat trapping. But now, you need to know if your oven needs ventilation. In short, yes, it does. However, you may not have to worry about it.
Countertop models usually come with several vents on the back or sides to release hot air during the minutes of operation. Make sure those vents are not blocked or covered by anything. Opened or unblocked vents provide as much ventilation as required by the machine.
Other models feature a dedicated ventilation system to expel cooking odors, smoke, or moisture. The ventilation system can include an outside extension or a mechanism to recirculate the released air.
That is pretty much the answer to the original question – can you put a microwave on top of a fridge? Hopefully, you won’t mind paying attention to the last few lines.
Modern households are never complete without a few essential appliances with refrigerators and microwaves being two integral parts of our lifestyle. Keeping those electronic units close to each other won’t be a problem if you adhere to the above recommendations.