The way you wire a standard stove isn't the same way you wire an electric stove. Like a central air conditioner, a water heater, and a furnace, an electric stove is a high-power-demand appliance requiring high-volt power supplied on a dedicated circuit.
Unlike the gas stove, which uses a simple 120-volt circuit to operate vent fans, times, and other accessories, the electric stove requires 240-volt power to heat the stovetop and run its other accessories. There is a need to ensure the stove conforms to specific wire/amp requirements to function correctly.
Electric Stove Wiring Requirement
To properly install an electric stove, you will need to fulfill two specific requirements. First, recognize that the breaker size informs the stove wire size and that both the breaker and the stove wire sizes depend on the stove. The breaker and cable size requirements remain the same whether the stove is directly hardwired to the circuit or an outlet for the plug is installed.
You will then need to ensure that the stove is installed in a dedicated circuit. While appliances on 120-volt circuits operate with only a single hot wire, electric stoves operate with two- a ground wire and a neutral wire. You will require a breaker for each hot wire. Further, the two breakers must be stacked and joined together such that when one trip, the other trips as well.
Breaker Size Informs the Stove Wire Size
American Wire Gauge is the standard measurement unit for electrical cables in the US. In this measurement approach, the gauge number decreases as the wire diameter increases. The wire sizes also depend on the wire lengths. Because of these factors, most stoves operating on 120-volt circuits use 12 and 14 AWG wire sizes. On the other hand, 240-volt appliances, given their higher power demand, use a minimum wire size of 10 AWG.
Recommended Amp/Wire for Electric Stove
As a best practice, you need to ensure the wire sizes match with the corresponding amperage as shown: 6 AWG for greater than 50amps, 8 AMG for 40 to 50 amps, and 10 AMG for 30 amps and below.
Given wire size is also dependent on the length of the wire, a voltage drop can severely impact the performance of an undersized wire that is very long. However, this condition is usually true for the length of wire exceeding 100ft, which is normally very unlikely in a domestic setting.
Electric Stove Receptacle Requirements
An ideal outlet is that whose configuration corresponds to the current draw of your electric stove. For circuit grounding purposes, ensure all 240-volt outlets have four slots. However, it is essential to note that some 30-amp outlets usually don't accept plugs from 50 amp and 40-amp appliances. As such, it is always necessary to choose the electrical outlet that corresponds with the plug on your stove.
3-Prong or 4-Prong Plug?
Before 1996, electric stoves and ranges were fitted with 3-prong plugs constituting two "hots" and one "neutral." The stove's body was grounded using the neutral such that its receptacle and cord shared the same ground. However, due to safety concerns, the National Electric Code (NEC) required that a 4-prong outlet be installed for new circuits that supply power to these appliances.
As implementation of the new policy intensified, manufacturers started selling devices with the neutral separated from the case ground. The new structure requires a 4-conductor power cord with a separate ground wire that links to the appliance’s ground screw.
The new rule only applies to new buildings, new outlets, and other kitchen remodeling works. The NEC still allows those which pre-existing 3-slot outlets to operate the old way with the 3-prong cords. As such, if your house is fitted with pre-existing 3-slot range outlets and you have happened to buy a new electric stove that comes with the 4-prong configuration, you are allowed to replace it with a 3-prong plug that conforms with your house configuration.
Nevertheless, you must ensure the stove's case ground is connected to the neutral terminal. Manufacturers ensure most stoves and ranges come preloaded with a wire or metal bonding strip for this particular reason. Generally, both the old and the new systems work just fine; however, the new configuration is considered safer.