It’s easier to begin by answering that question with a look at how the two cords are the same. Both appliances require a 220/240-volt circuit. That’s really the extent of a range and dryer cord’s similarities. They should not be interchanged, with one exception, which we’ll get to in a minute.
A basic understanding of the meaning of both volts and amps will help clarify some of the differences between the two cords.
What are amps and volts?
Amperage (amps): The measure of the amount of electricity, or current, that flows through the wires. Compare the motion of electrical current to water passing through a hose. Amps are comparable to the amount of water that passes through that hose during a certain period of time.
Voltage (volts): The force at which the current is pushed through the wires. Think about the force water needs to be pushed through the hose. Electrical current also needs force to move it through the wire.
What’s the difference between a range cord and a dryer cord?
Although each appliance cord is designed to carry a much greater electrical charge than smaller home appliances, their plugs are configured differently, and they each carry a different amount of current, which is measured in amps.
Both the dryer and range cord have two flat prongs positioned closest to the cord. Each prong is considered hot, and it feeds 110/120 volts (for a total of 220/240 volts) into the range or dryer.
The third prong on each appliance is the one that’s the furthest away from the cord. It’s the neutral or ground wire, and it is also shaped differently for each.
Dryer cord: The third prong is shaped like an “L”.
Range cord: The third prong is flat like the other two.
The 4-prong cords for both the range and dryer are configured with the ground and neutral wires separated. They each have the two flat hot wires on either side of the plug, and they each have the round ground wire placed at the top of the plug. The neutral wire on each plug is shaped differently just like that of the 3-prong plug.
Dryer cord: The fourth bottom, prong is shaped like an “L”.
Range cord: The fourth bottom, prong is flat like the two hot prongs.
Electric dryer cord: rated at 30 ampsElectric range cord: rated at 40 or 50 amps
Now for the answer to the question about whether the cords are interchangeable between the two appliances. Both require the same amount of force, or volts, to move the current through the wires; however, they need different amounts of current to operate.
You could technically use an electric range cord on a dryer, so long as the receptacle matched it, because the range cord is rated at a higher amperage, and it could handle the dryer’s lower rating.
You are playing with fire, quite literally, if you attempt to go the other way. Since the dryer’s cord is only rated for 30 amps, it can’t handle the amount of electricity that a range requires to flow through its wires. Using a dryer cord on a range could result in a fire.
What’s the advantage of using a 4-prong cord instead of a 3-prong cord?
Homes built before the mid-1990s were constructed with 3-prong outlets for their 220/240 appliances, such as ranges and dryers. In 1996, the National Electric Code (NEC) required all new construction to make the change to 4-prong 220/240-volt outlets.
The 3-prong configuration connected the ground and neutral wires together, which created the possibility for the wire’s current to flow onto the ground wire and energize the metal frame of the range or dryer. It put the user at risk of being shocked when touching the appliance. Because the ground and neutral wires are separated in the 4-prong wire configuration, it helps to prevent electrical shock.
Does changing the range or dryer require rewiring the house?
Since the NEC only required the 4-prong configuration for new construction, any residence older than the mid-90s may still be equipped with 3-prong outlets. You might have come across a situation where you’ve needed to replace your range or dryer and found the replacement appliance’s plug doesn’t match your home’s outlet.
You do not need to rewire your home when you upgrade appliances. In order to be code compliant, you simply need to change the appliance cord to match the existing outlet.
In fact, new ranges and dryers do not come equipped with a standard cord for the very reason that your home’s outlet may require either the 3-prong or 4-prong plug. Manufacturers give you the option of choosing the cord to match your home’s electrical requirements.
Why Choose Fred’s Appliance Service?
If you’ve run up against a situation where you need to replace a 220/240-volt cord, and you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, the highly-skilled technicians at Fred’s Appliance Service are here to assist you. We service all major household appliances and offer a very fast turnaround on parts delivery. That equates to providing our customers with the service you need when appliance repairs arise.
With Fred and Adam Butcher at the helm of our family-owned business since 1996, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality service to our neighbors in the northeast counties of Ohio. If you’re located in Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, and Cuyahoga Counties, you’ll find our service second to none.
Whether you have a question about changing the plug on your range or dryer, or you need repair service, our factory-trained technicians are knowledgeable about all aspects of the appliance industry. They are skilled at working with nearly any make or model of an appliance from all of the leading manufacturers.
Don’t hesitate to contact Fred’s Appliance Service for a professional and timely response to your appliance needs. From the very first moment you speak with a member of our customer service team until the job is complete, you’ll appreciate our commitment to customer care. Our goal is to help keep your life running smoothly.