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Old 04-14-2008, 11:12 PM   #1
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


Hello and thanks in advance for any help. I have wired my basement with two series of pot lights each on three way switches ( I need to install two breakers). The employee at Home Depot tells me that I need two double pole breakers to handle the increased load of a three way switch. What does three way have to do with load? There are no more watts being used than if it was a single pole three switch. I thought that double pole is for 220 volt applications such as dryer or range. Each circuit will be fine with a 15a breaker. Is a single or double pole needed?

Thanks again

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Old 04-14-2008, 11:36 PM   #2
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


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The employee at Home Depot tells me that I need two double pole breakers to handle the increased load of a three way switch. What does three way have to do with load?
That employee needs to go back to the carpet department where he belongs.

You are correct in your thinking about the 240 volts. You do not use a double pole breaker for the increased load of a 3 way swithc cause it doesn't have any load. Use single pole breakers 15 amp for 14 awg and 20 amp for 12 awg which ever you used. Never go to HD and take their advice for anything electrical unless the employee can certify his qualifications. There are some HD's that have licensed master electricians on staff. But you need to ask if they have someone like that in house. The person who gave you this double pole breaker advice and the reason for it should be brought to managements attention. Had you connected to a double pole breaker you would have placed 240 volts on your 120 volt lights and destroyed them.

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Old 04-14-2008, 11:43 PM   #3
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


there are situations where a 2 pole breaker would be used with 120 volt circuits but it is not typical in a residential situation and from what you have posted, it is not the situation here.



stubbie; I'm speaking of the common trip rule for devices on the same yoke of a MWBC (pre 08 code) or; ANY MWBC hots must be on a common trip breaker with the other circuits using the same neutral.(08 code)


but yes, it sounds like the HD dummy is truly a dummy.

Last edited by nap; 04-14-2008 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:22 AM   #4
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


My wife got mad at me in Lowes the other day when I corrected an employee that I heard giving really poor electrical advice. She told me something about "you can't save the world." I countered by saying that I might have just saved that customer's wife from getting shocked.

Scary what you hear in home center electrical aisles when you're nosey like I am.
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:43 AM   #5
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


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stubbie; I'm speaking of the common trip rule for devices on the same yoke of a MWBC (pre 08 code) or; ANY MWBC hots must be on a common trip breaker with the other circuits using the same neutral.(08 code)
Yep I agree. Didn't mention it because of the reason given by the HD employee.
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Old 04-15-2008, 04:41 PM   #6
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


When my wife wants to shop at Home Depot or Loews, I wander over to the electric department where I keep myself entertained by asking the "master electrician" questions, and being amused by the answers.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:25 PM   #7
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Three way light switches and double pole breaker


I will on occasion correct an employee at a hardware store and get a reaction from my wife. thekctermite is absolutely correct in that one piece of improper advice can have extreme consequences. I will purchase two regular single pole breakers and if I post another thread, it meant I lived through the task

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Last edited by ShawnColes; 04-15-2008 at 09:30 PM. Reason: spelling mistake
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