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Electrical Wire and Cable

Why a New 240 Volt Circuit Produces 120 Volts

Why is my 240 volt circuit only showing 120 volts? How to Correct Incorrect Circuit Voltage.

Electrical Video #1

Generator Automatic Transfer Switch
and Electric Circuit Sub Panel

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Electrical Panel and Circuit Breaker Types
Electrical Question: Why is my 240 volt circuit only showing 120 volts?

I pulled 10/3 wire from my panel to the dryer unit and installed a 30 amp breaker. I’m getting 110 on each leg but get nothing when crossing them. I already replaced breaker and get the same thing.

This electrical wiring question came from: Joe, a Handyman from Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
Additional Comments: very informative

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

Application: Electrical Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Electrical Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester, and appropriate Safety Gear.
Estimated Time: Depends on the personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area.
Electrical Safety: Identify the electrical power source, turn it OFF and Tag with a Note before working with the electrical wiring.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials: Electrical parts and materials should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections: Installing or changing home electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes as adopted in your local area. A permit and inspections may also be required.

How to Correct Incorrect Circuit Voltage

There are some electrical panels which do not have a standard configuration which will produce 120 volts instead of 240 volts, this is one of those types of panels, but there is a solution.
Joe, you’ll need to re position the circuit breaker in the panel because you are not attached to separate buses. This has to do with the type of circuit breaker you have and the brand of the electrical panel.

Circuit breaker
Electrical Wiring Protection using Circuit Breakers
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.

Electric panel
House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.

The Following will assist you with your Electrical Question

House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers

Dryer Electric Wiring

Electrical Panel Circuit Listing

Electrical Wire for the Home

Home electrical wire
Electrical Wire for the Home
Complete listing of electrical wire types and parts used for home projects with electrical code information serves as selection guidelines.

How to Wire a Dryer and Cord
Wiring a Dryer
See an electric dryer installation with a typical 220 Volt electric power cord wiring system. You may find yourself with either a 3-wire or 4-wire electric dryer, or a 3-wire or 4-wire outlet. Lets look a how the electric dryer is wired and what to do if your cord does not match the plug.

For more information about 220 Volt Wiring Diagram
220 Volt Wiring Diagram
220 Volt Wiring Diagram
Wiring 220 Volt Electrical Outlet
Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how electrical outlets for the home are wired.

This link is helpful as a Handyman
Do-It-Yourself Electrical

The following may also be helpful for you:

Electrical Video #2

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet

without a Ground Wire

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» AskTheElectrician «

NOTE: A List of All my Helpful Videos
Will Display at the End of This Video
Keep Watching So I Can Help You Wire it Right!

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

7 Responses to “Why a New 240 Volt Circuit Produces 120 Volts”
  1. darleen says:

    Hi Dave, I have an old washer/dryer combo that says 120 volts required. I am about to replace it with a new washer dryer unit that says 220 volts. Will I need to upgrade my electric for the newer machine?


  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Darleen,
    As stated on your new washer dryer combo, it does in fact require a dedicated 220 volt circuit. Also note the amperage of the circuit that is required as this too is extremely important. In most cases a combo washer dryer unit will require a 30 amp 220 volt dedicated circuit, however there are some stacked laundry units that require a circuit and receptacle for each separate unit, typically one 15 or 20 amp 120 volt circuit for the washer and one 30 amp 220 volt circuit for the dryer. Consult the installation manual for complete and specific instructions about the required circuit for your specific make and model washer and dryer combo unit or stack laundry units.

  3. Rick says:

    Hi Dave. My electric baseboard heater wouldn’t turn on this season. I tested the thermostat, and both ends of the unit to confirm that the circuit was working on and off properly and receiving power. Thinking something must be wrong with the element, I installed a new unit, but I had the same problem. The baseboard heater was receiving power but producing no heat. I pulled the panel and voltage tested both breakers on the 240 circuit and each was registering 120 volts. I then tested the black and white wire in the unit by putting the black lead into each wire nut, grounding the red lead and each wire was registering at 120. I’m stumped and need your advice. How exactly do I confirm the unit is getting 240 volts? And if it isn’t, where could I be losing it in the circuit?

  4. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Rick,
    You have tested the circuit and show 120 volts, however the circuit may not be producing 240 volts. The circuit wires of Line 1 and Line 2 need to be tested with a voltage tester to see if there is in fact 240 volts. From what you have described, my guess is that you are not getting 240 volts. If this is true, then I would repeat the 240 volt test at the circuit breaker for each baseboard heater. If the circuit breakers are not producing 240 volts then there is a problem with the panel or the electrical service that supplies power to the panel.
    More information about : How to Troubleshoot Home Electrical Power Problems
    I hope this helps,

  5. Rick says:

    Hi Dave, you were right. Testing the two leads on the 240 circuit showed that it was bad. I replaced it and the heater still didn’t work. When I took the thermostat apart I saw where one of the wires had been scorched. So it was only transferring 120 to the load. Replaced that and it all works fine now.

    Thanks for the advice Dave. You’re the best!!!

  6. Miguel says:

    I had a situation earlier today with a wall oven and a counter top stove. They were working before but I had them replaced with new ones. I see it’s not wired great at all, but it worked and now it won’t give out the power I need. I have tested with a meter all the way back to the main breaker and still will only show 120volt to each hot leg but will show 0volt when I go across both hot legs (L1 and L2).
    Could the problem be from the meter coming from the service? Who should be responsible for that?
    How would this problem be fixed?
    Thank you so much for your help.

  7. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Miguel,
    From what you have described, the installation of the new units may not have been properly connected, or there may be a tripped circuit breaker. Before the installing technicians leave the job they should test each unit to ensure proper operation. If it is found that there is a voltage problem with the electrical service then you should contact your local electrical utility provider and describe the condition so they may check the electrical service to the home.
    Thanks for sharing your project with us,