Range Too Much for Breaker?

Old 07-07-17, 03:44 PM
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Range Too Much for Breaker?

I had an electrician tell me that my range is overpowered for my breaker. We replaced the built in stove with a Frigidaire range a few years ago. He said that its putting out 56 amps but my breaker is only a 40 amp. I've read on various forums that many use a 50 amp range mated to a 40 amp breaker without issue. One guy said that its still within code (however 56 amps might be pushing it). We've done a moderate amount of cooking on it over the last few years since purchasing it and have never had the breaker trip. The electrician said that most likely the breaker needs to be replaced if its not tripping and that our range life will be greatly reduced. Also said that most likely the wire insulation has probably melted in areas. Below is a picture of the specs of the range and the ranges electrical cord (don't see any melting).

He seemed to be very honest and knowledgeable and said that it would be cheaper to replace the stove than it would be to replace the wiring (assuming the wiring is too small).

Old 07-07-17, 04:04 PM
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The range isn't overpowering anything.
The circuit is too small to supply the range.

You should have a 50A breaker with #6 wiring.
You most likely have a 40A breaker with #8 wiring.

Running the range at or near the rated capacity of the circuit is not good for the breaker or the wiring. It won't hurt the range. You just won't get full heating power.

So your electrician is correct. The circuit needs to be rewired.
Is that a possibility ? Is the panel nearby ?
Old 07-07-17, 07:24 PM
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While the range is rated for 13.5 KW (13500 watts) that is only when all burners are are on high and all elements in the oven are on. This is unlikely to happen for most people. IMO as long as the wiring is properly protected by the current breaker (which it sounds like it is), and you are not tripping the breaker, I would leave things as is and continue to use the oven.
Old 07-08-17, 05:42 AM
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Dueling proverbs:
A: "Running the range at or near the rated capacity of the circuit is not good for the breaker or the wiring."
B: " It won't hurt the range. You just won't get full heating power. "

I also say (+1) you should leave things as is and continue to use the oven and range. At your leisure at some later date you could upgrade the circuit to 6 gauge hot-hot-neutral-ground. (Ground wire can be 10 gauge.)

The range will never experience periods of time with unpredictably degraded heating or erratic oven temperatures due to the inadequate wiring. That is, you can never have a brownout on just that one circuit. Burners and elements, when turned on, wil draw all the power they want until the breaker trips. So you will never spoil a baked cake unless the breaker tripped and you did not catch it in time to remove some less time and temperature sensitive pots of food from the burners and turn those burners off and reset the breaker.

The range life will not be shortened.

Do not cut off and substitute a different plug on the range power cord to match the receptacle. I personally would construct an adapter (short extension cord) with a receptacle to fit the power cord and a plug to fit the wall receptacle.

(Ignore what follows if you don't like math and numbers.)

As previously stated, at maximum usage the range draws 56 amps at 240 volts (13,500 watts).

A 40 amp breaker on an 8 gauge wire circuit allows up to 32 amps (7,700 watts) continuous usage or up to 40 amps (9,600 watts) intermittent usage.

So during times you are cooking with 7,600 watts or less you have no problems

If you try to cook using more than about 9,600 watts (plus in actuality some small margin) the breaker will trip and you are saved.

Continuous use means more than 3 hours so if you cook with between 7,700 and 9,600 watts aka 32 to 40 amps (the gray area) for less than 3 hours you are still okay.

While it is not easy to predict when you are in the gray area without using a clamp on ammeter, the times you would be in the gray area for more than 3 hours are probably small enough that you can ignore this issue also.

Probably the worst thing that would happen is that the life of the 40 amp breaker would be shortened due to occasional tripping but I would consider the cost and inconvenience of replacing that part to be negligible.

(In case you don't know what dueling proverbs are, here is a more intuitive (but further off topic) example: A: Act in haste, repent in leisure, B: You snooze, you lose.)

Last edited by AllanJ; 07-08-17 at 06:06 AM.
Old 07-08-17, 11:09 AM
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I would look back at the installation manual that came with the Frigidaire range and see what it calls for. My experience tells me that most electric ranges call for a 40 amp circuit and a few recommend a 50 amp circuit. The last two Whirlpool self cleaning electric ranges I have bought both called for a 40 amp circuit. My niece bought a new Samsung electric convection range 3 years ago and it also called for a 40 amp circuit.

As long as the breaker is not tripping you will not have any reduction in heating, this isn't an indicator of a bad breaker that needs to be replaced, the life of the range is not being reduced and melted wire insulation would be a totally different cause and not because you have a 40 amp circuit. It sounds more like your electrician is looking for work.

I'd just leave the breaker and circuit alone unless the manufacturer calls for a 50 amp circuit.
Old 07-10-17, 04:48 AM
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Thank you all for all your responses.
Old 07-10-17, 06:48 AM
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When all else fails, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!

Appliances and so forth come with installation instructions. Read the manuals to properly install these things, install the proper circuits, etc. Different models of appliances, furnaces, A/C, pumps, bath Jacuzzis, etc. require different circuits.

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