120v w 19 gallon water heater run on 2 pole 230v breaker. is it safe?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Nancy Mae, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. Nancy Mae

    Nancy Mae New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2015
    Location:
    Florida
    My brother-in-law says I can remove one wire from the breaker to make it 120v. Will the breaker still work and provide protection?
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    It is safe. You will still have 2 wires for power, but one will be a neutral (normally white). The neutral wire insulation color might be a code problem. I am thinking it may be permitted to mark the wire ends with white somehow, but I am not sure.

    But yes, an overcurrent in one side of the breaker will trip the breaker.
     
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Plumber
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    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You "Remove" one wire from the breaker, but you "move" it to the neutral bus bar. And make sure the wire you moved is the one you attach the heater's white wire to.
     
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    Not so fast with just removing a wire. It sounds like you have an existing 220 volt line and outlet and want use a 120 volt water heater at the other end. Does the water heater has a three prong plug or does it need to be hard wired?

    In the existing circuit you should have four wires, black (110v line) white (neutral), red (110 volt line), green or bare copper (ground). In the circuit panel remove the 220 volt breaker. Cap off the red wire and tuck it away for future use. Get two single phase breakers (110v). Connect the black wire on one of the breakers (14 gauge must use a 15a, 12 gauge use a 20a). The other breaker install it in the empty slot and mark it as a spare.

    At the other end remove the 220 outlet, cap off the red wire and tuck it away. Connect the black, white and ground as any other 110 volt outlet. Be sure to get a 20 amp outlet that cost a few dollars, not a 59 cents 15 amp one if it is a 20a circuit. If it is a direct wire heater connect the three wires as instructed from the units directions.

    What is accomplish is it is the safest method since anyone in the future knows what they are looking at and no questions. Just removing a wire at the breaker panel and grounding it, might cause you to have a reverse power connection at the water heater and probably would trip the breaker or worse yet have a hot chassis if the old wiring doesn't have a ground if you're using PVC water pipes
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    It would be very unusual to have those 4 wires run for a water heater.
     
  7. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Most 240vac water heaters do not have neutral. What was suggested was to move one lead from the breaker to the neutral bus and make sure that that wire is the one properly connected to the new 120vac WH. It is not necessary to change the breaker...overload on one leg will trip both of them. You can, but you do not have to.
     
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