Piggy-backing of electrical wires on breakers


Old 02-14-07, 05:28 PM
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Piggy-backing of electrical wires on breakers

Suppose you have an electrical panel box that is all filled up with circuit breakers.

Now suppose you have one more 240 volt baseboard heater that has to go in.

Can you find any two low use single pole circuits and piggy back one leg of the 240 volt baseboard heater on one of the single low wattage drawing breakers and find another low wattage drawing circuit breaker on another leg and do the same with the other leg of the baseboard heater?...and meet code? Or is this a definite no-no, no matter what?
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Old 02-14-07, 06:07 PM
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No, you cannot just grab any two legs. The breaker must be on opposite legs in order to provide 220 volt power. The breaker MUST shut down ALL power to the baseboard unit by only throwing one handle. With certain exceptions you may be able to combine circuits to make room for the needed 2 pole breaker for the heater, or your panel might be rated to accept tandem breakers. A tandem breaker will only supply 110 volts, but you may free up spaces for the 2 pole breaker. You could also add a small sub-panel and juggle some circuits.
Old 02-14-07, 06:22 PM
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That does make sense. Now the question almost sounds silly. Can you imagine sending someone to the basement to kill power to that baseboard heater and the person only turns off 1/2 of it? Good point. I should have thought this one through more. Technically it would work probably without a fire risk. But at the expense of possibly causing someone to get shocked. Well, it's probably good that people read a question like this and grasp it's ramifications. Thanks for the heads up response.
Old 02-14-07, 09:16 PM
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I once lived in a rented mobile home. One day the window unit air conditioner refused to work. While fussing with the controls, I noticed that every time I tried to turn on the AC, using the control knob, the front porch light would turn on and off! When I checked the circuit breaker panel, I found someone had wired it exactly as you had considered. One breaker had tripped, but the unit was still getting partial power through the other breaker. Scary stuff.

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