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Old 08-23-2010, 11:20 PM   #1
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


I have a breaker box (electrical panel, whatever you call it) that was installed in 1976. In slots 1 & 2 is one 30 amp breaker with two wires going to it (forgive me, I'm no electrician & realize I'm not using the correct technical terms). The same in slots 3 & 4. The labeling says slots 1 & 3 are for the window air conditioner (220V) & slots 2 & 4 are for the water heater (I'm assuming that's 220V also). The levers (or tabs, handles, ears, whatever you call them...the things you push from side to side to turn the breaker on & off) on slots 1 & 3 are connected to each other by a metal piece that turns both slots (1 & 3) on & off at the same time. The levers on slots 2 & 4 are likewise connected to each other. Question One: Why was this be done this way? In other words, why aren't the two wires for the air conditioner connected to slots 1 & 2 in one 30 amp breaker & the two wires for the water heater connected to slots 3 & 4 in the other 30 amp breaker? Question Two: I need to install a new window air conditioner which calls for a 15 amp breaker. It seems to me I will need to replace the 30 amp breaker that fills slot 1 & 2 with a 15 amp breaker & then re-route the wire in slot 2 (for the water heater) to slot 3 & re-route the wire in slot 3 (for the air conditioner) to slot 2, ending up with the two air conditioner wires in the 15 amp breaker in slots 1 & 2 & the two water heater wires in the 30 amp breaker in slots 3 & 4. Is this correct or am I missing something here? I just have a feeling there was a reason the wiring was split between the two breakers and don't want to mess things up. Thanks for any help.

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Old 08-24-2010, 12:49 AM   #2
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


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Originally Posted by janralix View Post
I have a breaker box (electrical panel, whatever you call it) that was installed in 1976. In slots 1 & 2 is one 30 amp breaker with two wires going to it (forgive me, I'm no electrician & realize I'm not using the correct technical terms). The same in slots 3 & 4. The labeling says slots 1 & 3 are for the window air conditioner (220V) & slots 2 & 4 are for the water heater (I'm assuming that's 220V also). The levers (or tabs, handles, ears, whatever you call them...the things you push from side to side to turn the breaker on & off) on slots 1 & 3 are connected to each other by a metal piece that turns both slots (1 & 3) on & off at the same time. The levers on slots 2 & 4 are likewise connected to each other. Question One: Why was this be done this way? In other words, why aren't the two wires for the air conditioner connected to slots 1 & 2 in one 30 amp breaker & the two wires for the water heater connected to slots 3 & 4 in the other 30 amp breaker? Question Two: I need to install a new window air conditioner which calls for a 15 amp breaker. It seems to me I will need to replace the 30 amp breaker that fills slot 1 & 2 with a 15 amp breaker & then re-route the wire in slot 2 (for the water heater) to slot 3 & re-route the wire in slot 3 (for the air conditioner) to slot 2, ending up with the two air conditioner wires in the 15 amp breaker in slots 1 & 2 & the two water heater wires in the 30 amp breaker in slots 3 & 4. Is this correct or am I missing something here? I just have a feeling there was a reason the wiring was split between the two breakers and don't want to mess things up. Thanks for any help.
A good clear photo of your panel / breaker situation would help a lot in figuring out what is going on.
Jamie

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Old 08-24-2010, 04:18 AM   #3
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


First, do not make any changes to the water heater. You should be able to remove the 30 amp breaker for the old A/C and change it to a 15 amp. Only the black wire will connect to the new breaker. The white wire from the old breaker will now connect to the neutral buss in your panel.

Your receptacle will also need to change to the proper size and slot configuration.

BTW, it is 240 volts, not 220. Also panels are normally numbered with all the odd numbers on one side and evens on the other, ie 1,3,5 and 2,4,6.
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Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 08-24-2010, 07:49 AM   #4
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


a 2 pole breaker (240v) levers are mechanically connected so that if one line trips it pulls power off both lines ( you don't want one 120v line hot and the other not on a 240 device). all multipole breakers are this design.

adjacent circuit breaker locations (e.g.1 & 3) are used so that a double pole circuit breaker connects to lines A (120v) and B (120v) (tapping off the power bus) to provide the 240v. just the way it's designed and built.

you didn't say if your new ac is 15 amp 120v or 240v. if it is 120v, maybe there is a receptacle close enough to use and you can leave your 240v line intact.
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Old 08-24-2010, 04:42 PM   #5
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


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a 2 pole breaker (240v) levers are mechanically connected so that if one line trips it pulls power off both lines ( you don't want one 120v line hot and the other not on a 240 device). all multipole breakers are this design.

adjacent circuit breaker locations (e.g.1 & 3) are used so that a double pole circuit breaker connects to lines A (120v) and B (120v) (tapping off the power bus) to provide the 240v. just the way it's designed and built.

you didn't say if your new ac is 15 amp 120v or 240v. if it is 120v, maybe there is a receptacle close enough to use and you can leave your 240v line intact.
All multi-pole breakers are NOT of this design. Two pole Square D QO comes to mind.
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Old 08-24-2010, 05:16 PM   #6
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


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Originally Posted by janralix View Post
In slots 1 & 2 is one 30 amp breaker with two wires going to it (forgive me, I'm no electrician & realize I'm not using the correct technical terms). The same in slots 3 & 4. The labeling says slots 1 & 3 are for the window air conditioner (220V) & slots 2 & 4 are for the water heater (I'm assuming that's 220V also). The levers (or tabs, handles, ears, whatever you call them...the things you push from side to side to turn the breaker on & off) on slots 1 & 3 are connected to each other by a metal piece that turns both slots (1 & 3) on & off at the same time. The levers on slots 2 & 4 are likewise connected to each other.
You see, this doesn't make sense. You say 1 & 2 are a single breaker, and 3 & 4 are another single breaker. But then you say the levers on 1 & 3 are connected to each other, as are the levers on 2 & 4. That's why jamie asked for a photo.

As mentioned by others, you this setup is most common:

1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8

PLEASE CONFIRM THE LAYOUT OF YOUR PANEL - your descriptions do not seem correct. Let's make sure you don't have any bad issues here to start with.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:13 PM   #7
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Breaker box wiring question(s)


Thanks to all & to a local guy, I've got it figured out!

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