Should You Tap 220 Electrical Wiring for a 120 Volt Circuit?


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Splicing a 220-240 Volt Multi-Wire Branch Circuit for 110-120 Volts: Considerations when trying to provide a source for 110 volt or 120 volt power, Understanding 220, 230 and 240 volt Electrical Circuits.


Guide to Making 120 Volt from a 220 Volt Circuit

Electrical Question: Would it be possible for me to safely install electrical wiring and tap into a 220 volt circuit junction box with an insulated neutral wire to provide power for a 110 volt circuit power supply?

This electrical question came from: Steve, a Homeowner from Leavenworth, Washington.

Additional Comments: A very useful site . Thanks so much.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Steve.

Quick Note about this Specific Question, then more Details Follow
The particulars of the application or the existing circuit have not been provided, so I would suggest that another 120 volt circuit should be considered to see if it will provide the capacity for your specific application. Continue reading for more information.

Splicing a 220-240 Volt Multi-Wire Branch Circuit for 110-120 Volts

Application: Splicing 120 and 220 Volt Electrical Circuit Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on the personal level experience and ability to work with tools and access to the electrical wiring and the junction box.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring.
Notice: Modifying or Installing additional electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and inspected.

220-240 Volt Multi-Wire Branch Circuits

  • 120 Volt and 220 Volt Electrical Circuit Wiring

    • Here are some considerations when trying to provide a source for 110 volt or 120 volt power:
      • The only 220 voltĀ  or 240 volt circuit that can be safely tapped into would be a 4-wire multi-wire circuit that has a dedicated ground and insulated neutral wire which has been installed to be used as a branch circuit and has the available amperage to support the proposed additional load.
  • Understanding 220, 230 and 240 volt Electrical Circuit, and Why they Should Not be Tapped for 120 Volts
    • Most 220-240 volt circuits have been installed for a specific device or equipment as a dedicated circuit and should not be tapped.
    • Most 220 volt circuits may not have or use a neutral wire, with the exception of major appliances.
    • Tapping into a 220 volt major appliance circuit is not permitted because there will most likely be a amperage difference, so the tapped circuit would not have correct circuit protection which would produce a hazardous condition.

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2 Responses to “Should You Tap 220 Electrical Wiring for a 120 Volt Circuit?”
  1. Tim Hudson says:

    I am installing a new sauna which requires a 3 wire 240 receptacle and is rated at 13 amps. I have a 30 amp dedicated circuit available. I have run 10/3 Romex from the basement to the 3rd floor/attic, a bit over 70 ft. Question: If I connect the 4 wires at the box as though I were using a 4-wire plug, but simply continued the neutral wire a bit past the sauna outlet, then could I use the neutral wire and branch one hot from the 240 jack to a single 120 outlet. The 120 outlet is for occasional use. This particular room has no jack. The sauna itself has plenty of lights, music, etc., so there would be no need to use them both at the same time, although it would probably be OK to do so, given the cable and the circuit. Would this work?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Tim,
      In theory your proposal would work, however because this is a dedicated circuit for the sauna, and the amperage for the individual devices may be different this setup would not be according to code. There is an alternative however that would work, consider the following: Run the 10/3 with ground to a 4 circuit 120/240 volt sub panel located in an approved location. Use the 10/3 as the feeder power supply cable for the sub panel. At the new sub panel install a 240volt circuit breaker for the sauna outlet and a 3wire cable out to the sauna location. The amperage for the sauna circuit breaker and cable should be based upon the circuit requirement as described in the installation manual. At the sub panel install a 120volt circuit breaker for the new outlet circuit and a cable to the new outlet location. The outlet cable sized according to the desired amperage, typically 14/2 or 12/2 for 15amp or 20amp respectively. All work should be permitted and inspected.
      Thanks for sharing your project with us,
      Dave


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