Hey Everyone- Unless i am working on a small kitchen.. i usually install the two required circuits.. and then install a dedicated circuit for the fridge. A microwave either countertop or rangetop sometimes will be connected on the same circuit making things pretty "close" i am one to be pretty generous with kitchen circuits.. because from experience thats usually the room that uses the most power and trips the most breakers.
Referring to the refers themselves i am not just worried about the running amps.. but the amps they pull when they first start up.. those compressor can get some strong head pressure on them sometimes. so i always feel better putting them on their own 20 amp circuit.. especially to isolate them from GFCI's
The nameplate on most fridges is not more than 7.2A. That is the sum of the defrost elements, and all interior lights. Compressors do not run at the same time as defrost elements.
Most residential built-ins, even the huge ones, are not much greater of a load (and how often do you have fridge and freezer open at the same time anyway?
If the nameplate is 10A or more, that's 50% of circuit ampacity, therefore, an individual branch circuit is required. (210.23(A)(2), 2002 NEC, although that only applies to equipment fastened in place, which this appears to be). I don't recall ever seeing this on a domestic fridge, but they may be out there.
It is always the better practice to give the fridge its own circuit. In my area, it's local code as well.
many of those large fridges have two compressors. I mave an older model sub-zero dual compressor side by side unit. its nameplate says 12 amps. I have a single 20 amp circuit for my kitchen and part of the living room. ive only tripped the breaker about 2 time in the 10+ years ive had the fridge and it was from running way to many appliances at the same time. Im guessing it is a rare event that all of the circumstances come together where the fridge actually draws 12 amps. i bet it is drawing less than 6 most of the time
When i bought the fridge i was going to run a dedicated circuit untill i discovered the conduit and boxes were already overfilled. running new consuit would have required major demolition. i just decided to plug it in and hope for the best. after finding out that i works just fine, im glad i didn't do the major demolition for the new circuit. however for new construction, i would definitly want such a big fridge on its own circuit.