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Old 11-18-2010, 05:32 PM   #1
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Default 2 2K heatsticks on 1 30A breaker?

Just a quick sanity check...

I have a 50AMP breaker that was formerly used for a dryer. The outlet was fed by a 10Ga wire. During a renovation last year, we relocated the washer/dryer and cut that circuit. I have two 2K heatsticks that I would like to use in my basement brewery (in progress). I built a power distribution board to break the 240 into switch controlled GFCI protected outlets for the sticks. Based on my research, 10ga is okay for 30Amp, but not 50... hence my quandry.

Should I buy a 30AMP breaker (will two 2000 watt heatsticks work on a 30AMP circuit?) or do I $pend on a heavier gauge wire to go from the panel (use the 50 Amp breaker I already have) to the 4-wire recepticle?
I'm not trying to be cheap, but if I can save some money while not risking my or my families lives, I'd like to.

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Old 11-18-2010, 05:44 PM   #2
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Are the heat sticks 120V or 240? 4000 watts at 240 is only 17 amps.

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Old 11-18-2010, 05:53 PM   #3
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Based on my limited knowledge, I would say no. 4000/120 (assuming they're 120v) equals 33.3 Amps, enough to trip the breaker.

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Old 11-18-2010, 07:29 PM   #4
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David- They are 120V. Sorry- omitted that detail.
Devilish- My thoughts too. Can the 50Amp breaker be used without upgrading to 8 gauge?

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Old 11-18-2010, 07:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeantownD View Post
David- They are 120V. Sorry- omitted that detail.
Devilish- My thoughts too. Can the 50Amp breaker be used without upgrading to 8 gauge?
For a 50A breaker you'd need to upgrade to 6 guage. 8 Gage is rated for 40 amps.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:28 PM   #6
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i posted this, and then deleted it, but I am reposting it now because I am pretty sure it's correct.

If you break things up so that each 2000W/120V element is using a separate hot line from the 2-pole breaker (it is 2-poles, right?), then you will not trip the breaker.

With only one element powered on, connected between a hot line and the neutral, then you are running 2000W@120V, and this is 16.6A. Your breaker will not trip.

When you have both powered on, the neutral connection is common between them. One element is driven by one hot and the other element is driven by the other hot. No current will flow on the neutral, because you have a system where all current is coming in from one hot line and going out on the other hot line.

This will effectively look like 4000W@240V, which is still 16.6A.

You can power both. You will only draw 16.6A, and your 30A breaker will not pop.

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:40 PM   #7
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to help clarify...

think about your heater element as a simple resistor... cause that's really all it is.

If you are driving each resistor from separate 120V hot lines, and have them in series, like this:

+120V hot -> resistor1 ----> resistor2 -> -120V hot

Then you have a total of 240V drop across two equally sized resistors. each resistor will cause 1/2 of this total voltage to drop, so each one is effectively being driven by 120V.

The neutral will be connected to the longer arrow above (---->), and will have current flow on it when you only have one element being powered.

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:44 PM   #8
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Thanks EUBrew for the correction on 50 AMP gauge. It's been a long work week and my brain is a little toasty.

Walker-that's how I was doing my math, but wanted to make sure I was on the right track.

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:50 PM   #9
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There should not be any problems. Just make sure you break it out so that the two outlets are on opposite hot lines. You'll pull only that 16.6A

a comment on wire gauge: the insulation used on the wire has a significant impact on the current rating. romex and thhn are two different and common types of insulation, and a given gauge of copper wire can have different current ratings based on which of those it is covered in.

as an extreme example of the importance of insulation, the main power cable feeding my control box is made of 8 gauge stranded copper wire. It has some proprietary insulation on it and can handle 65A and 2000V.

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Old 11-19-2010, 01:56 PM   #10
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Edit:
Removed because I was way off

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What does the primary pressure gauge on the tank tell us? That's right, the temperature. Put it on a scale if you want to know how much is in it...
Put some duct tape over the gauge - Or better yet - Replace the high pressure gauge with a plug - High pressure gauges are useless!
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