Difference between a single and double circ. breaker??

Hello, In my electrical panel I have a double squeare D breaker with a black/red wire running to a kitchen plug. When I check the voltage I get 110V at the outlet. What is the difference between a single (slim) and a double (wide) breakers. I thought the double ones gave 240V.
Thanks, D.
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They are just slimmer so two can fit in the place of one. A 220V breaker would fill two full sized slots not two halves of a slot.

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You're correct, single breakers provide attachment to one hot leg and double breakers provide attachment to two legs of the panel buss. If your double pole breaker has a red and a black wire attached to it, you will get 240 volts. My guess is that the outlet has either the red or the black and a white attached to it. It is common to run three wire circuits for kitchen outlets, which will provide to 120 volt circuits

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circuits"?????
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Absolutely correct. Sometimes I type to fast for my brain

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Dave wrote:

Everything depends on what you mean by "double" breaker.
Square-D makes doubles which allow two circuits to be placed in the space normally required for one. Their old ones had handles side-by-side while the new ones have two very slim handles stacked one over the other. In any case if you are talking about a breaker that is more-or less 1" thick then it is a "110" volt breaker since it taps into a single phase of the mains circuit. These are for regular outlets and lights and such.
The other "double" option is actually two stacked breakers designed so that if one trips on an overload both will disconnect the power. These tap into both phases of the mains circuit and thus provide "220" volt power to electric stoves, air conditioners, and other heavy consumers. These breakers are more-or-less 2" thick.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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So the OP is not confused, you are describing Square D "QO" series, as the OP may be referring to Square D "Homeline" series

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Good point; I've got two breakers that each have two handles but they are 15 amp 'doubles'. For example using them each could feed two entirely separate 15 amp lighting circuits With plenty of spare locations in our panels I'm saving them for if/when we need the space

Should that not read " ......... it taps into a single LEG of the mains circuit". It is very unusual for domestic services in North America to have anything but 230 volts from the two ends of a single phase supply, with the centre tap of that single phase usually being the zero voltage or 'neutral' wire. In Europe and elsewhere AIUI it is possible to have more than one phase enter a house; with, for example 230 volts between them and without any zero voltage neutral, In other words both, in that case ARE 'hot' PHASE wires. .

Agree.
leg feeds the top half of a duplex outlet from its 120 volts and black leg (say) feeds the bottom of the same outlet from its 120 volts; but not sure if that's what the original poster has in their kitchen outlet? Thus the red and black are wired from the single 230 volt breaker for safety etc.
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Double pole breakers are usually for 240V applications. However, it is common in kitchen applications where two dedicated 20A circuits are required by code (for small appliances) that a single run of 12-3 wire is used with a double pole breaker and split into two two separate 120V (red & black) circuits with a shared neutral wire. The circuits usually alternate between outlets (outlet1=circuit1, outlet2=circuit2, outlet3=circuit1 etc.) I know about these because I just installed two such circuits in my basement .
Since you are talking about a kitchen circuit, my bet is that you have a double pole 240V circuit split into two 120V circuits with a common neutral.
So, you must specify if you have a duplex breaker or a double pole breaker. A double pole breaker takes up two slots in your box but has one big lever to turn it on and off. A duplex breaker has two breaker switches that fit into one standard width slot (commonly used when space it at a premium in your circuit breaker box) and each can be switched off individually).
Kevin
Dave wrote:

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Dave wrote:

Hard to say exactly what is going on. "Double breaker is not an exact definition.
If it has two breakers that have independent handles so you can turn off either one without turning off the there, they are just slim breakers fitting two in the same space that one would normally fit. If there is a connections on the handles so that they both are turned off or on at the same time, then they are a 240V source
In the kitchen it is likely you have two circuits and it is possible that each outlet has two circuits (one circuit for each outlet) so each outlet is getting 120V One using the white and red wire and the other using the black and white wires.
Note: You did not say why you are getting into this question, but before working on these lines, I suggest making sure of what is going on and make sure you understand what is going on. Don't start taking things apart until you are sure you understand.
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Joseph Meehan

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