If you live in an older house, the electrical outlet for your oven probably has three holes unless it has been updated. Modern appliances usually come with cords that have four prongs, or they may not come with cords at all and you have to choose one for your home. You might wonder how to hook up an appliance that comes with a four-pronged cord and if it is safe to switch it with a cord that has three prongs. Here is some information about this issue and how to resolve it.
Why Modern Appliances Use Four-Pronged Plugs
For many years, appliances had cords with three basic prongs. Two were for hot wires and the other was for a neutral wire that acted as a ground wire. These fit perfectly into the outlets installed in older homes. Eventually, electrical codes changed, and newer homes are now required to have outlets with four holes rather than three. These outlets accommodate plugs with two hot wires, one neutral wire, and one grounding wire. This configuration is safer and reduces the risk of stray electricity energizing the metal covering on the range.
Since new homes are built with four-pronged oven outlets, appliance manufacturers started making appliances that use power cords that have four prongs. Although new homes must have the new outlets, older homes are allowed to continue using what is currently installed. To accommodate customers with older homes, appliance manufacturers make their ovens so you can switch out the cord if necessary so the oven will work in your home.
You Can Solve The Problem By Switching Power Cords
One way around this problem is to buy a separate power cord when you buy your oven. Be sure to get advice from the appliance store or a residential electrician on the right cord to buy so it can handle the amps your stove requires. Installing a new cord isn't as easy as plugging it into the oven on one end and into the wall on the other. Instead, individual wires have to be connected to terminal screws. If you've worked with wiring before, you might feel comfortable doing this, but if not, call an electrician to hook up the new wire so it is safe and you're not at risk of electrical shock when you use the oven.
A New Outlet Is A Permanent Solution
If using a three-prong plug makes you feel unsafe once you know the four-pronged ones reduce your risk of shock, then you can hire an electrician to install a four-prong outlet in your kitchen. If you're upgrading your older home anyway, this could be the best option since all appliances you buy in the future will be made for four-prong cords. Installing a new outlet for an oven requires installing the receptacle itself along with new wiring all the way back to the circuit box, so it is a fairly major undertaking, but it could be worth it if you want the added safety of an additional ground wire for your oven.