Electrical Wiring and Electrical Repairs

Electrical Circuit Breakers and Fuses


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.

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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.

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Single or 1-Pole Circuit Breakers

circuit breaker

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:



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

Clothes Dryer

Garage or Work Shop
Air Compressor
Table Saw

Other Equipment:
Air Conditioning
Water Heaters

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
Clothes Dryer
Garage or Work Shop
Air Compressor
Table Saw
Other Equipment:
Air Conditioning
Water Heaters

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?
Thank You

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.

See more about Wire Sizes: http://ask-the-electrician.com/electrical-wire.html

NOTE: This question is based on a specific project. Ask The Electrician provides help for your electrical project: Ask Electrical Questions

Brands of Home Circuit Breakers:

Cutler Hammer
Square D


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