# Can you use a double pole breaker as a single pole?

A single-pole breaker is commonly used on 120-volt circuits rated at 15-20 amps. They are made up of one hot wire and one neutral wire. A double-pole breaker, which comprises of two hot wires, is often used with a 240-volt circuit rated at 20-60 amps. A multiwire branch circuit cannot be served by two single-pole breakers. It must be divided so that each conductor gets its own breaker.

The main reason for using a double-pole breaker on a 240-volt circuit is so that the user can separate conductors that enter the box separately (such as from a lighting fixture) but go to the same thing (like a heater or air conditioner). If these items were on separate single-pole breakers, there would be no way to turn off one without also turning off the other. With a double-pole breaker, both lamps and appliances can be left on while keeping the power off to the furnace or water heater.

Double-pole breakers are available in capacities from 30 amperes to more than 100 amperes. The larger sizes are usually listed as "3-phase" instead of "240-volt." Double-pole breakers are required on any circuit that carries current between 1 and 2 amperes. Otherwise, you would need multiple small breakers to serve these low currents from each conductor.

Single-pole breakers are necessary only if you want to leave something on such as a lamp when you shut off the power supply cord to an appliance.

## Can a double-pole breaker be used for a single-throw circuit?

A double-pole breaker is often utilized for 220/240 volt applications, although it may be used for two 110/120 volt circuits as well. It also depends on whether the toss is single or double. Is it possible to convert a double 15-amp breaker to a double 20-amp breaker?

Yes, this can be done by removing one of the breakers from its mounting bracket and replacing it with a single-pole breaker that has twice the current capacity. This would allow you to replace the broken breaker with a 20-amp fixture load with no additional cost or wiring. Be sure to use matching voltage breakers when changing over from a double to a single pole configuration.

The double-pole breaker provides open space between the two poles so that if one conductor gets damaged there's still enough current flowing through the other conductor to operate the fixture load. Double-pole breakers are required by code for any receptacle or light fixture where one or more wires are always going to be exposed (e.g., hot wires in a panel box).

Single-pole breakers don't provide this open space and if one conductor gets damaged there's no way to continue to flow current through the other conductor. This could cause serious damage to connected equipment or present a risk of fire if there's live power running through a damaged wire and into an empty slot within the housing of the breaker.

## How does a two-pole breaker work?

Double-pole breakers connect two poles for a total voltage of 240 volts. Two "hot" wires are used in circuit wiring that connects to double-pole breakers. Because the two parts of the breaker are connected by a single breaker bar or toggle, the other half of the breaker trips at the same moment. Double-pole breakers are required by code for any load that can be plugged into either side of the house.

Single-pole breakers connect one pole to supply power and the other pole is left open or disconnected from the system. Thus, single-pole breakers only supply 120 volts because there's no way for them to supply 240 volts. They're used for small loads such as lamps that cannot handle a full circuit breakers' capacity.

The type of breaker used on a circuit determines what kind of connections you need in order to connect or disconnect components on the circuit. For example, if you want to turn off the water valve but leave the lamp on, you would need a single-pole breaker. If the lamp needs to be off too in order for the valve to be turned off then you will need a double-pole breaker. The technician who installs your new plumbing should always provide you with this information so you know what connections to make when repairing or replacing parts of your plumbing system.

Two types of single-pole breakers are found in residential applications: magnetic and thermal.

## How many amps can a double-pole breaker handle?

Double-pole breakers, on the other hand, are rated for 20 to 60 amps and provide 240-volt electricity to major appliances such as electric dryers and stoves. They are also called full-service breakers because they serve all equipment that is plugged into them. Double-pole breakers are required by code for any circuit likely to be used by more than one appliance.

The amount of current that a double-pole breaker can handle depends on how many other circuits are tied into it. If there are no other circuits using this breaker, then it can safely carry up to 60 amps. But if another household device such as a microwave or dishwasher is also plugged in, then the total current flowing through these three devices could exceed what the breaker is designed for. In this case, the breaker must be replaced with a larger one that can handle the combined current from all the plugged-in devices.

In conclusion, double-pole breakers can handle up to 60 amps of continuous current per pole, while triple-and quadruple-pole breakers can handle up to 120 and 180 amps respectively.

##### Wallace Dixon

Wallace Dixon is an avid collector and user of vintage technology. He has been known to take apart old radios just to see what makes them work, and he's even been known to fix them himself when they don't!

#### Disclaimer

EsWick.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.