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.
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
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.
Good point; I've got two breakers that each have two handles but they are 15
For example using them each could feed two entirely separate 15 amp lighting
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'
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.
Maybe someone should mention what some here call a 'split outlet'; I.e. red
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.
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
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).
Hard to say exactly what is going on. "Double breaker is not an exact
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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