Can You Convert a Plug-in Type Appliance to a Hard-Wired Fixture?
If you’ve purchased an appliance that has a wall plug, but needs to be hard-wired according to your housing codes, there are ways to modify the cable. Direct connections into the circuit can be safer for appliances with high voltage.
When hooking up home appliances, you may be faced with the choice to hard-wire them, rather than plugging them into the wall. Some local housing codes don’t allow certain appliances to be hard-wired, so take the time to research the codes for your area before making any changes. If your area allows you to hard-wire your chosen appliance, then you should be able to easily convert it.
Do not attempt any hard-wiring without the proper training and/or consultation from an experienced electrician.
Before focusing on hard-wiring any specific appliances, it’s important to review the basic elements of wiring. The main service panel, also known as a fuse box, is the central hub for all wiring to a house. If you look into the fuse box, you’ll find a list of switches that control all electrical boxes in the house such as outlets, switches and electrical hookups for hard-wired fixtures.
A standard outlet has three-prongs and provides 125 volts per plug, which works fine for 120-volt appliances. Some appliances require a greater voltage, however, and while some can easily plug into 240-volt outlets, others should be attached directly to the circuit. One benefit of hard-wiring these more powerful appliances is that they can be hooked up to a wall switch so that they can easily be turned off when not in use, which can save on electrical output.
The most important element of hard-wiring any appliance into a direct circuit is splitting and attaching the wires. Using wire strippers, you want to remove a few inches of the wire’s rubber casing in order to get to the metal wires beneath. There should be a wire to make the primary connection and a wire to ground the connection. Once you’ve matched these two wires up with their counterparts on the appliance, you’ll cap them with a plastic “wire nut” and seal them with electrical tape.
When working with electrical wires, be sure to shut off all power to the circuit you’re working on to avoid electrocution.
Appliances To Hardwire
With varying housing codes and appliance models, you’ll need to carefully research what is legal in your area and if your model of the appliance can be hard-wired. Be sure to review your appliance manual to see if hard-wiring requires any extra materials. The following appliances can be hard-wired in most homes:
- Electric Range: While not every model comes hard-wired, electric ranges or cook-tops, are usually built into the structure of a kitchen or oven. These tend to require 120/240-volt circuits, with the timers and lights using 120 volts and the heating elements using 240 volts. There should be a short armored cable, called a whip, which can be attached to the junction box according to your appliance’s directions.
- Garbage Disposal: Most modern garbage disposals are hard-wired and hooked up to a wall switch for the homeowner’s convenience. When you buy one brand-new, it doesn’t come with any cords so that it can be connected to the circuit directly. Be sure to split the wires before installing it below the sink, so that you can easily connect the wires as needed.
- Dishwasher: If your kitchen is designed to have a dishwasher under the counter or sink, then it should be ready to hard-wire in the appliance. Using a long cable, get the dishwasher in place and open its junction box. Split the cable, attach it to the dishwasher’s leads and close the junction box.
- Water Heater: Standard water heaters run on 240 volts and need to be directly connected to the circuit. When attaching the cable, be sure that you’re using an armored cable to properly insulate the wires from the radiant heat. Open the cover plate, split the wire, and attach it to the circuit.
When in doubt, consult an electrician with any questions or concerns.
Heidi Nickerson graduated from Liberty University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She has a passion for home improvement, construction and interior design.