Why does a commercial refrigerator keep tripping the electricity?

9 Causes for a Commercial Refrigerator Tripping Electricity

Posted by | 02-08-2021

Faulty appliances can cause your circuit breakers to shut off. Often referred to as tripping, this is an important feature as it helps avoid risk for electrical fires. When there are issues with appliances and other electronics plugged into your electrical system, the demand for electricity can lead to overheating. 

However, if you find that your electricity is constantly tripping, you could have something wrong with the appliances in your kitchen or out on your retail floor. Here, we look at 9 common reasons that a commercial refrigerator might cause your electricity to trip and why it’s important to fix it.

1. Faulty compressor

The compressor is the key to your commercial fridge’s function. It compresses and controls the refrigerant that keeps your fridge cold. It takes in low pressure gas from the fridge’s evaporator and then converts it into high pressure gas, which in turn increases the temperature. If your compressor isn’t working properly, however, it can trip your electricity. This could be associated with a failure in the wiring, which allows extra power to overload and trip the breaker. Because the compressor is a major component of your commercial fridge, repairs and replacement can be quite expensive. This is why it’s important to maintain your cooler thoroughly.

2. Malfunctioning defrost heater  

Defrost heaters defrost commercial fridges on an ongoing basis to make sure ice doesn’t form due to condensation and moisture. If you find your fridge is constantly tripping your power, it could be due to a leak in the defrost heater. Commercial fridges have “earthing” or “grounding” designed to avoid electrical shocks. The connector prevents electrical currents from leaking. In order to determine if this is the cause, however, you need a trained technician, as it requires opening the casing of the fridge’s circuit board. 

They also have to look at the thermostat and unplug the wiring for the defrost heater to find out if it is the cause of the issue. A malfunctioning defrost heater usually has to be replaced to be safe. If you try to check the heater yourself, you could cause issues and your commercial fridge might not start when you plug it back in. This is because newer appliances often have a fault or safe mode that kicks in when any of the electrical elements are unplugged. So, if you don’t reconnect everything properly, your fridge won’t start.

3. Faulty fan

Fans are used to distribute and circulate cold air in commercial fridges. If there is an issue with the fan’s electrical wiring, it can cause tripping. When the wires are compromised, the fan stops working, which causes the refrigerant temperature to rise. When this happens, the compressor can overheat, which, as mentioned above, can lead to tripping. These two parts work together, and when one is faulty, the other is affected.

4. Malfunctioning thermostat

The thermostat in your commercial fridge can have an earth leak, which can lead to tripping. This tends to be the last possible scenario, as it is quite rare. However, it is best left to a professional to check for earthing issues, as they will use a multimeter to see if earthing is the problem.

5. Faulty wiring

Wiring in general can lead to tripping. This can be a challenge to determine, as you can only check the wires you can see. You can unplug the fridge and pull it out from the wall and remove the paneling to look at the wires to see if you notice anything that seems loose. However, it can be dangerous to do this, and reconnection of loose wires is best left to a professional. Otherwise, you could make matters worse and increase the risk of being shocked. For this reason, it’s recommended that you seek professional help.

6. Damaged power cord

Look at the power cord to see if it is worn, or could have been damaged. If you have mice, they can be the source of the problem, as they are notorious for chewing wires. Don’t try to fix a frayed or damaged power cord, as this won’t do much to stop the fridge from tripping and can also put you at risk for shocks. Instead, the cord should be replaced by a certified refrigeration technician. If the cord seems fine, you can unplug it to see if there is damage to the prongs. 

However, the shock risk means that you have to disconnect electrical power first. Any loose or damaged prongs can also cause power tripping and pose a risk for power surges and shock. Any type of damage to your power cord and prongs calls for immediate replacement.

7. Damaged outlet

The power outlet for your commercial fridge plug could be damaged. If you see signs of burn, cracks, or the outlet seems loose, then this could be causing the issue. A professional electrician can check for damage behind the receptacle cover and conduct a test with an ammeter.

8. Overloaded circuit

If you have a wall of commercial fridges in your shop or kitchen and have them plugged into the same circuit, this is an obvious reason for tripping. Every time your fridge’s compressor starts, it sends a surge that can overload your circuits. If you have more than one appliance kicking in at once, this increases risk for overloads. Whenever possible, you should have a dedicated circuit for each commercial fridge to prevent overloads and tripping.

9. Breaker box

The breaker box is the main power source for your electricity. If nothing else seems to be causing the tripping, there could be an issue with the breaker box itself. Circuit breakers can be damaged for a number of reasons, and if they become cracked, worn, or corroded, they could be causing the tripping as opposed to the fridge and outlet. This is another area where an electrician is required, as damaged circuit breaker boxes are dangerous.

Whether the tripping is being caused by the fridge or the electrical circuit on your premises, always have a professional assess the issues. Both scenarios put you at risk of electrical shock if you try to check the wiring on your own. If you think it is your cooler, then call a refrigeration technician to assess your commercial fridge. If it’s not the fridge, then it makes sense to give your local electrician a call.

If your commercial fridge is causing tripping, then it could be time for a replacement. Speak to the team at Ancaster Food Equipment today.

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