Timothy Thiele is an electrician who advises residential DIYers on just how to make residence installation tasks safe and also easy.

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Gas clothing dryers and also electric clothes dryers have actually much different electrical needs. A gas dryer produces heat by burn either organic gas or liquid propane (LP) gas, and it uses 120-volt electrical at this time merely come spin the dryer compartment and run the controls. A gas dryer plugs right into an simple 120-volt electrical outlet, and also it has actually a cord fitted v an simple appliance plug. An electrical dryer, top top the other hand, heats the waiting with electrical heating elements and runs on 240-volt current, which calls for a much various outlet receptacle and a special heavy-duty appliance cord with a distinctive plug.

But there room two different outlet styles and plug-in cord layouts used because that these 240-volt electric dryers. Some have three slots, draft to expropriate appliance cords with three prongs, while other outlets have four slots, draft to expropriate four-prong cords. There are so countless of both type of dryer outlets in residences throughout the U.S, that newly purchased garments dryers generally come through no cord in ~ all, which allows you to choose and also install a cord the matches every little thing kind that dryer outlet uncovered in your home.

What Is a Three-Slot Dryer Outlet?

Before 2000, it was standard exercise for 240-volt garments dryers to have actually three-prong cords the plugged right into 240-volt outlets that had actually three slots—two 120-volt "hot" slots and also a an unified "ground/neutral" slot. In this configuration, the ground connection on the dryer to be bonded to the neutral connection, so that the solitary wire served both functions—as the neutral existing pathway and also as the ground connection pathway. This didn't average that the appliance wasn't grounded, yet only that neutral wire likewise served together the grounding pathway. This is typically not a problem, since neutral wires are constantly grounded in the main business panel. Under some distinct circumstances, though, over there is a very little chance the shock with this configuration.

Therefore, since the 1990s, the NEC and standard local code practice have mandated that brand-new installations must incorporate four-slot dryer outlets for 240-volt dryers, and that dryers should be fitted v four-prong cords to complement them. However, over there is no mandate that needs homeowners to stop using or convert existing three-slot dryer outlets. The dangers are so small that the code allows existing three-slot outlets to continue to be in ar for master to use. If girlfriend buy a new dryer yet have just an older three-slot outlet, it's fine because that you to download a three-prong cord to match that outlet.

What is a Four-Slot Dryer Outlet?

Since the 1990s, conventional wiring practice and the NEC has directed that 240-volt dryer outlets should have a four-slot configuration, in i m sorry the neutral electrical pathway and the grounding pathway are carried by separate wires. This came around because it was slowly recognized that the constant presence the water in the wash area created the potential because that shock unless a separate, devoted ground pathway was likewise present in the dryer. A four-slot receptacle, four-prong plug construction is thus somewhat much safer than the larger three-slot, three-prong method, due to the fact that it has a dedicated grounding pathway the serves no various other function.

You are no longer enabled to install a three-slot dryer outlet, and if girlfriend move right into a house with the more recent four-slot outlet, her old three-prong dryer will should be refitted v a four-prong cord. Again, though, you are not compelled to convert that old three-slot outlet to a brand-new four-slot outlet

as soon as to choose a Four-Slot Outlet end a Three-Slot Outlet

If installation an outlet for a 240-volt dryer, you will never pick a three-slot dryer outlet, because the electric code no longer enables this. Also if you want to, you can find them tough to find. Instead, girlfriend should always install the ideal four-slot outlet.

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Remember that if you happen to have an larger dryer with a three-prong cord, friend will have to replace that cord v a four-prong cord to match your new four-slot outlet. This is straightforward project that takes simply a couple of minutes come complete.

converting a Dryer Outlet or Dryer Cord yourself

Changing a dryer cord indigenous a three-prong come a four-prong (or angry versa) is an easy task for most people. The process is fairly simple, and this is generally the best method to resolve the situation when your dryer cord doesn't match the dryer outlet current in her home. 

If you have actually very good skills together a DIY electrician, you can additionally consider wiring a new outlet yourself, but you need great skills and also an understanding of electric systems. For most people, that is much better to have actually a certified electrician or appliance repairman to perform this installation.