Changing from 110 to 220


Old 05-02-01, 12:27 PM
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Hi all you knowledgeable electricians,

My question is this. I moved into an apartment with old 110 outlets in just about every room. Only one room has three prong outlets and I am hoping that they are truly grounded, after reading about some of the jumpering experiences. I would like to hook up my new clothes drier. It runs on 220. I have no 220 outlets in the apartment. I do have a breaker box in the front hall. The main box is in the basement for the entire apartment complex. I am on the first floor so we are not too far away from the source.

What is needed to go from 110 to 220? I hope we don't have to turn off the whole building's power to do this. Does having 220 installed in your home add in anyway to danger from electrical damage or fire? In other words, could an insurance agency tell me I can't hook up the drier because 220 is more dangerous than 110?

Thanks in advance for your responses. I can't wait to hear back. Tired of lugging wet laundry to the laundrymat.

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Old 05-02-01, 01:35 PM
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Yes, you can probably get 220 volts for your dryer out of this panel. However, I wouldn't dream of trying this without the apartment owner's permission. And the owner will certainly require a building permit for this work.

You need two spare adjacent slots in your panel, one above the other. Do you have such spare slots (usually covered by a blank plate)?

You also need to verify that you have the extra capacity in your electrical service. Can you tell us the amperage of the main disconnect, if any, the square footage of your apartment, whether or not you have an air conditioner, and whether you have gas or electric heat and hot water?

And no, I can't imagine an insurance company objecting.

As long as you have a main disconnect in your subpanel, you will not need to shut off power to the building.

A simple $8 receptacle tester from Home Depot will tell you if those three-prong outlets have a grounding wire. Most surge supressors also have a light indicating this.

Old 05-02-01, 02:09 PM
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Hey, thanks so much for the fast response!

Actually, I am the owner. I call my place an apartment, but it is really a condo which I just purchased.

I will check out those testers from Home Depot and do a thorough check of the whole flat.

I have a breaker box with 7 slots used and 5 unused. Yes, there are two placed one upon the other.

BUT! I don't think there is a disconnect. I remember seeing some boxes with a crank like thing on the side that cut off the power to the box. I don't have anything like this, unless after opening the door, you also have to unscrew the box from the wall and then find something behind it to turn everything off. Wierd that it wouldn't have one, right?

Our heat is communal oil in the basement. The water heater is heated by the oil. The stove is gas. No airconditioner. Only major electrical appliances are the clothes washer, the fridge and the dishwasher, all of which are sitting in the tiny eat in kitchen.

Square footage of the apartment/condo is 865.

I should say that I am somewhat daunted by doing this work myself. I will probably hire a contractor, and will definitely get a permit if it is necessary. But I want to know before hand all the details and pitfalls so that I can respond intelligently when a contractor comes in and starts talking electricitish.

I also want to be able to defend my desire to hook up the drier before the Condo Committee, and they have already said that perhaps the clothes drier itself might pose a 'hazard' to the building and make insurance rates go up. The issue is being 'considered' at the moment.

So, how does this all look to you?

Old 05-02-01, 02:26 PM
Gary Tait
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There may me a cut-off for your unit in the utility room.

Why not get a gas dryer? You have gas, although
you will need a licensed gas fitter to install it,
and probably an electrician to install the electrical.
Old 05-02-01, 02:39 PM
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Thanks for the idea about the cut off for my unit in the utility room. I will go down to the basement and check.

I don't want a gas dryer, even though it would be more economical. I want to see if I can make this electric dryer work in my aparment.
Old 05-02-01, 07:12 PM
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Adding a gas dryer over an electric dryer has no advantage considering safety. A qualified electrician should be able to install an electric dryer run from you panel in the basement to the dryer quickly and without cutting off power to everyone. You must have a main to your apartment and that main disconnect must be accessible to you. You most likely will find your main inside the panel you were talking about or outside the building at the meter serving you apartment. Often time the panel serving you apartment is a sub panel from a breaker built into the meter system outside. Look at the top breaker inside you panel serving you apartment. If it says 100 or 200 amp on the handle that turns the breaker off this will be your main that will de-energize you panel for work to be done inside it like adding a breaker for your dryer. If you do not find the top breaker saying 100 or 200 on the handle of that top breaker then go out to where the meters are at and look for that same breaker either built into the meter box or in a disconnect adjacent to that meter serving you apartment.

A dryer circuit will require a 240 volt 30 amp breaker feeding a 10/3 romex going to the dryer where a 4 prong dryer plug will be installed to plug in the dryer.

Sounds like a no brainer to me for a qualified electrician. Ask for a couple of bids, ensure a permit and inspection is obtained and happy drying.

If you committee has a concern about safety on this subject then I would advise your committee to hire an electrical advisor to guide them in their decisions concerning electricity.

This type of work is done every day thousands of times per day throughout the country. No problem if done by qualified personel and with permits and inspections.

Good Luck

Old 05-03-01, 06:25 PM
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Thanks so much, Wg, for your wonderfully detailed response. I am all set to call some contractors and get some bids.


Alixe Huete

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