Can a Fridge Work without a Stabilizer? [Do I Need One in the U.S.?]

Refrigerators are used in many areas of the world to protect the appliance from low power supplies and potential surges. With some areas being subjected to scheduled brownouts to reduce the unsustainable power draw during the summer, should you be using a stabilizer on your fridge in the United States too? Can a fridge work without a stabilizer?

A refrigerator can work without a stabilizer – in fact, most in the United States do. Stabilizers are used to protect your appliance from the kind of voltage fluctuations common in areas of the world that experience frequent power outages or an unsteady supply of electricity. However, you may want to protect your appliance with a surge protector.

Keep reading to learn exactly what a refrigerator stabilizer does and whether or not you need one on your fridge.

What does a refrigerator stabilizer do?

Refrigerator stabilizers protect your fridge from damage caused by extreme power fluctuations.

Fridge stabilizers are used frequently in India but are much less common in the United States.

A voltage stabilizer protects the fridge from damage by using its internal circuitry to ensure that the fridge or any other appliance connected always receives the recommended 115 V. This means the fridge gets exactly the amount of power it needs, whether the influx or power is higher or lower than expected.

Large voltage swings, both increases and decreases, on either side of the rated voltage of a fridge of 115V, can damage the fridge compressor.

Is a voltage regulator necessary for a refrigerator?

Depending on where you live, a voltage regulator for your refrigerator may be a necessity.

A voltage regulator is necessary for your refrigerator if you live in an area with an unpredictable power supply or frequent periods where you experience either sustained low voltage or power surges.

Even if it’s not an absolute requirement, a voltage regulator can be used if your fridge requires more power than it’s receiving.

Should I put a surge protector on my refrigerator?

While stabilizers and voltage regulators are not typically used in the United States, you may want to consider installing a refrigerator surge protector.

Refrigerator surge protectors are similar to strip surge protectors, but tend to be rated to the much higher wattage required by the initial power draw of the compressor starting up.

Related: Does a freezer need a GFCI outlet or breaker?

Some fridges also have built-in surge protection. For example, GE recommends that owners not install an external surge protector because it may override the compressor’s internal regulation and prevent it from restarting.

If all this talk of compressors has left you a little confused, check out this helpful video that shows exactly how refrigerators work!

Do you really need a stabilizer for your fridge?

Stabilizers are as common in some countries as the surge protector or backup power supply you likely have connected to your computer. Should you have a refrigerator stabilizer as well?

If you’re in a location where the voltage supply is irregular, you should invest in a stabilizer. It’s even more important if you have an expensive fridge.

Can a fridge work without a stabilizer? Yes, but you may be risking one of your most expensive appliances!

A stabilizer can make real-time adjustments to the input voltage protecting the fridge from damage in case of an overvoltage or under voltage so that your fridge always receives the standard 120V even when the voltage is out of the recommended range.

Dangers of using a fridge without a stabilizer

A voltage stabilizer is not always required if the voltage supply is stable. As long as the recommended power flow is maintained, it can do everything it’s supposed to do without one.

However, should the voltage rise to exceeding high levels or drop to very low levels then there is a danger that the fridge may be damaged.

Refrigerators need about 120V to function properly. Less than 90V or more than 135V may permanently damage the compressor.

A stabilizer can cost less than 10% of the cost of the fridge, and it can save you from having the replace the entire appliance.

Top Tip: Some fridges have inbuilt voltage stabilizers and there is no need for an external one. Check your owner’s manual to find out if your refrigerator has one!

Can low voltage damage a fridge?

I don’t know about where you live, but where I am, something gets struck by lightning around here every summer. For me, the primary concern is too much power running through the lines, but what if your issue is too little? Is it possible that not enough power could also damage your refrigerator?

If the voltage drops dangerously low, for example as low as 90V then the fridge compressor can be damaged.

Low voltage, such as those experienced during brownouts, may damage your refrigerator if you're not using a stabilizer.

When the voltage drops for too long, you may also experience food spoilage since the fridge won’t have enough power to properly maintain the necessary temperature.

Can high voltage damage a Fridge?

According to Strike Check, high voltage surges are the most common cause – by far – for the failure of residential and commercial refrigerators, with the control board, the compressor, and the ice maker being the most likely parts to be affected.

Higher than recommended voltages, say 135-140V can destroy the fridge compressor, even if the voltage is not as sudden as a lightning strike.

As you can see the fridge requires protection against both high and low voltages.

Summary of can a fridge work without a stabilizer

It isn’t necessary to connect your refrigerator in the United States, although it may be worth considering investing in one if you live in an area where brownouts are becoming more common.

Refrigerators require about 120V to function properly; significantly more or less will cause lasting damage to the compressor. A stabilizer protects the fridge from surges and provides the necessary boost in power when the volts drops.

can i use freezer without stabilizer?

It’s recommended that you use a stabilizer or voltage regulator with the deep freezer if yours doesn’t have one built in.

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