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Question – Does a 240 Volt Light Fixture Require a 2-Pole Circuit Breaker?

   
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See why installing a 240 volt circuit without a 2-pole circuit breaker poses a hazard.


I have a lighting system which requires a 240v service and it pulls 5.5 amps. I ran 12-2 w/ground with the black and white both acting as the hot wires which the device specs said was o.k. My question is, with not much room in my box for breakers, do I have to have a 2-pole breaker (if so what amperage 15-20-30?) or can I just connect both hots to a larger single-pole breaker i.e. 30amp. If I do need a 2-pole breaker, how many lighting systems can I run off of it as not to overload my 12-2 wire but ultimately save space in the box?

You will need to connect the #12′s to either a 2-pole 20 amp breaker or two 1-pole 20 amp breakers that are side by side and have a Tie-Bar connecting them. If the panel is tight on space, you may be able to use Twin Breakers for a few of the 120 volt circuits to free up some space, this would depend on the panel make and model. If you do this, make sure these 120 volt circuits are not a part of a 3-Wire Set, that is sharing the same Neutral Wire, but rather are from a 2-Wire set, such as 12/2 Romex.
Because the circuit is 240 volts we must make sure that both lines go off at the same time. This prevents the possibility of only one 120v  line being energized. This would not only be a hazard for someone who may need to work on the fixtures, but may be a problem for the fixture also.
As for the quantity of fixtures, the #12 wire will limit you to no more than 3 fixtures rated at 5.5 amps each.
Make sure you color the white wire of the 12/2 Romex with either Black or Red tape, in the breaker box and at each fixture, and be sure to bond your ground wire at the breaker box and each fixture.


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