How to Install 4-Prong Range Cords

Electric Range

An electric range is a 240-volt appliance that usually plugs into a specialized 4-prong range outlet. While newer appliances have 4-prong cords that fit into 4-prong outlets to minimize electrical hazards, many appliances manufactured before 1996 feature 3-prong cords for 3-prong outlets. Whether you want to increase the safety of your current range or are installing a new electric range, you’ll have to replace the old 3-prong cord for a 4-prong range cord — see the following 4-prong range cord installation guide to learn how.

What is a 4-prong Cord?

The National Fire Protection Association updated the National Electrical Code (NEC) book in 1996 to change wiring requirements for electric ranges and clothes dryers. While most local codes and the NEC permit existing installations to continue using three-prong cord configurations, this update requires new installations to opt for 4-prong cord configurations.

A 4-prong cord has two hot wires, a neutral wire, and a separate ground wire. In comparison, three-prong cords have two hot wires and one neutral wire, lacking a dedicated ground and instead relying on the neutral-wire’s connection to the appliance’s ground wire. While uncommon, three-prong cords can lead to an electrical short and circuit breaker failure, which can then result in increased shock risk. Since 4-wire stove cords have a separate ground wire, they minimize the risk of electric shock.

What You’ll Need

Installing a 4-prong range ford can be challenging and dangerous if you don’t have some knowledge of working with electricity. Consider hiring a professional to make adjustments to any electrical cord, switch or outlet in your home. 

List of tools and materials

To properly install a 4-wire cord, you’ll need the following items:

  • Phillips screwdriver or nut driver
  • Strain-relief clamp
  • Tongue-and-groove pliers
  • 40- or 50-amp UL-listed electric range cord, available at home improvement stores in standard four-foot lengths

Power Up Safely

Step-by-Step 4-Prong Range Cord Installation Guide

Follow these steps for safe 4-wire range cord installation.

1. Turn off the circuit

Find and switch off the circuit for the appliance’s outlet in the breaker panel. While your range won’t be plugged in when installing the cord, this added safety measure completely disconnects power and removes the risk of electrical hazards while you’re working.

2. Remove the cover plate

The appliance should have a metal cover plate or shroud on its back panel. Remove the screws, bolts, or other fastener hardware to access the wiring terminal block behind the plate. Set aside the plate and fasteners in a secure location until you need them again during the installation process.

3. Disconnect the old cord

Disconnect the existing old three-prong cord by loosening the screws or nuts securing the cord wires, and pull the end of each wire from the terminal inside the open junction box. If it has a ground wire, remove it in the same manner.

Remove the strain-relief fitting’s screws, and separate the two halves, and pull the cord out through the hole in the back panel. Don’t use the same strain-relief for the 4-prong cord.

4. Isolate the ground connection

To install a 4-prong range cord, you’ll need to connect the ground wire to a ground screw on the appliance. Unless you have a new appliance that meets up-to-date standards, remove any straps or wires between the ground screw and neutral terminal to separate them. Units with a 4-wire configuration separate the ground from the neutral, so there’s no strap or wire to deal with.

If the ground wire connects to the neutral cord terminal by a metal strap, loosen the respective ground and neutral terminal screws. Either remove the metal strap, or leave it in place and rotate it away from the neutral terminal.

Look for a small wire with white insulation in the back of the range. If the white ground wire connects to the ground, remove it by loosening the ground screw and moving the wire to the neutral terminal — both white wires will connect here.

5. Connect the new cord

Follow these steps for 4-prong range cord wiring:

  • Run the end of the cord through the hole behind the range
  • Connect the ring of the white cord wire onto the center terminal, and tighten the terminal screw or nut
  • In the same way, connect the black cord wire to the left or right terminal
  • Secure the red cord wire to the remaining terminal
  • Attach the green ground wire to the ground screw
  • Ensure all screws fit tightly and securely

6. Complete the installation

Using the strain-relief fitting for the 4-prong cord, insert its upper and lower halves into the hole the cord passes through. Both halves should rest on the top and bottom of the cord. Using pliers, squeeze the two halves together and gradually tighten the screws, alternating sides during the process to ensure the halves squeeze the cord firmly and evenly. Don’t tighten the fitting too much as this can damage the cord insulation, expose wires, and cause shock hazards or electrical fires.

7. Reinstall the access panel

Reinstall the cover plate or shroud over the wiring. Use the fasteners you set aside in the beginning, and check your owner’s manual to ensure correct reinstallation.

8. Test the connection

Turn the circuit breaker switch back to the on position. Turn off all the controls on the range and plug the cord into the range outlet. Turn the power on and test the functions to confirm proper connection.

Need Assistance? Contact Express Electrical Services

At Express Electrical, our trained and licensed electrical technicians can help you with any wiring work. Whether you need routine maintenance or emergency service in Los Angeles, Orange County, or surrounding areas, our team is equipped with the tools and equipment to get the job done conveniently and safely. For help installing a 4-prong cord for your range or any other electrical system concern, contact us or book online today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to install a range cord myself, or should I hire an electrician?

With some electrical understanding, installing a range cord can be a simple task. If you’re lacking experience or confidence, hire an electrician to ensure safe installation. Some local codes may also require an electrician to perform this task.

How long does it typically take to install a 4-prong range cord?

Depending on experience and the specific range setup, 4-prong range cord installation takes about an hour.

What does “grounding” mean, and why is it important for my range cord?

Grounding refers to the process of connecting a conductor to the ground, which creates a safe path for it to escape through rather than through a person or other conductive objects and minimizes risk of electrocution and fire.