By Dave Rongey Summary: A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
Electrical Circuit Protection using Circuit Breakers
The electric circuit breakers serving your home wiring circuits are intended for switching and protection of your home's wiring from high temperatures caused by excess current higher than the rating of the wire.
While thermal magnetic circuit breakers are the key element for overload and short circuit protection of your home electrical system, there are potentially dangerous conditions that do not involve overcurrent.
The following circuit breakers should be utilized to provide further protection with house wiring.
Electrical circuit breakers protect the electrical wiring in our homes from overloading and over heating which can lead to a house fire. Described below are some of the electrical circuit breakers found in the electrical panel of a modern home.
Electric circuit protection with AFCI provide the extra measure of safety for your family. AFCI's are installed serving required house wiring circuits protecting areas such as the bedrooms. AFCI protects the bedroom circuit devices against the danger of arcing which can lead to fire.
Electric circuit protection with GFCI provide the extra measure of safety for your family. GFCI's are installed serving required house wiring circuits protecting areas where electrical appliances or products may come into contact with water, such as the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, hot tub areas and more.
Electrical Sub-Panel wiring considerations for the home complete with pictures. Careful planning for your Sub-Panel with immediate and future load considerations will help you understand how to size your Sub-Panel. This information will help as you consider a Sub-Panel and its size.
Single or 1-Pole Circuit Breakers
Single pole or 1-pole circuit breakers are most commonly use to protect our general use device circuits. These circuit breakers provide 120 volts to circuits that are typically used in our homes.
Listed below are the most commonly used 1-pole circuits:
2-Pole Circuit Breakers
Two-pole circuit breakers are used for larger home appliances and equipment. The 2-pole circuit breaker provides 240 volts to these larger electrical circuits. Below is a listing of where 2-pole 240 volt circuits are generally used:
Range or Oven
Garage or Work Shop
2-Pole Quad Circuit Breakers
Quad circuit breakers are ideal when panel space is limited and you need to add another 2-pole circuit. This solution provides two 2-pole circuits to be installed in the same location as one standard full size 2-pole circuit breaker. The Quad circuit breaker has pre-installed tie-bars that allow the two circuits to be operated independently of one another, while providing protection for each 240 volt circuit. As with the standard full size 2-pole 240 volt circuit breakers, the quad breaker could be used for larger home appliances circuits..
Below is a listing of where 2-pole 240 volt circuits are generally used:
Range or Oven
Garage or Work Shop
Four single circuits with single pole requirements can be installed on quad breakers that do not have tie-bars installed.
Three wire cables that are installed having two circuits and sharing the same neutral require the tie bars to be installed. Assigning each circuit to be placed on alternate busses is essential to prevent the neutral from becoming overloaded.
Quad circuit breakers are available
with the following configurations:
Two 2-Pole 240 Volt Circuit
Four 1-Pole 120 Volt Circuits
Circuit Breaker and Surge Arresters
Circuit Breaker Electrical Wiring
Can Two Circuits Be Placed on One Breaker?
I have a small mobile home that I am replacing the gas water heater and stove with electric. I had one double space left in my breaker box and had put in a double 30 breaker for the water heater. I have a 200 amp supply, but limited breaker space due to it being an RV power post in a park, I wanted to know if I could use a double 50 breaker in place of the double 30 and wire both the stove and water heater into the same breaker?
Straight away I will tell you the answer is absolutely NOT, but you do have another alternative.
First of all, what you would like to do may sound completely logical, but here is the danger. A circuit breaker is designed to protect the circuit components and especially the wiring from overheating and causing a fire. When a lower amperage wire is connected to a higher amperage circuit breaker, the rated circuit protection is not matched correctly.
But there is a possible solution, depending on the type of breaker panel that you have. In a case like this I would see if I could install what is known as a Quad Circuit breaker. A "Quad" circuit breaker allows two 2-pole circuits to be installed in the place of one full size 2-pole circuit breaker.
Be sure to size the circuit breaker correctly for the size of wire that is installed for the proper protection.
Air Conditioner Units and Tripping Circuit Breakers: The circuit that an air conditioner is connected to may be shared with other outlets so the circuit is becoming overloaded, here is how to solve this problem.
Quad Circuit Breakers Save Space in Approved Electrical Panels – As described in this question, a quad circuit breaker may be used in panels that are approved for tandem circuit breakers, and a quad breaker is essentially two special tandem circuit breakers that are connected and have the required tie bar or handle for the 240 volt circuits.
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Installing Electric Circuits
Electrical Project Skill Level:
Intermediate to Advanced - Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Electrical Tools Required:
Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area. Electrical Safety:
Identify the panel circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring. Working in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials:
Electrical parts and materials for circuit wiring projects should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections:
Installing additional electrical circuit wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
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