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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > 4500w Element on two 110 outlets
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:22 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ddahl84 View Post
So thinking about building a electric setup in my basement and at first I thought I needed to install a bunch of new 240 gfci breaker stuff. But since I'm really cheap and trying to figure out the easiest way of doing this, I was wondering if two 20 amp outlets on different poles hooked up to a 4500w element would work. I already have the outlets so all I would have to do is change them to gfci plugs. Wouldn't this work pretty much the same as a double pole 240 breaker?
Bad idea - PLUS - it will not work as you plan based on the highlited text of your post. With a GFCI circuit, the breaker is counting on the balance of the power being delivered in each conductor. With your stated plan, current delivered through one circuit is being returned through another circuit. The GFCIs will trip every time.

Do it right and don't play "You Bet Your Life".
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:50 AM   #12
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So yes, it will work. I only have one remaining question. What do you think an insurance adjuster standing in the ashes of your house after an electrical fire would have to say about the proposed installation even if it had nothing to do with the actual cause of the fire?
That might be the best answer I've got yet.

And yes I do understand electricity enough to build digital temp controls for my fridge and install new circuit breakers. I've also rewired and fired electric kilns. And I understand it enough to come up with this dumb idea. Just brain storming and asking questions. I thought that's what forums where for?
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:59 PM   #13
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Here is an option. take one 20a circuit and make it 240v (two hot and a ground.) you will still have the other circuit for your 120v stuff

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Old 11-10-2012, 01:33 PM   #14
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\You need a better understanding of the functions of electricity before jumping into something like this.
There is a bit more to it than that. It needs to be code compliant or your insurance goes out the window as I hinted in my earlier post. In addition to that there may be a requirement in your jurisdiction that electrical work be done by a licensed electrician. This is especially likely in blue states (strong unions) and by fiddling in your electrical box you may be violating local law. And there is doubtless a requirement that any electrical work be inspected. In any case if you do, or intend to do, anything like this you need a copy of the NEC (available from Amazon) and need to understand it. Good luck with that. It used to be a booklet. Now its a tome.

In anticipation of this sort of thing when they built my garage I had them pull (2) 4-wire (+ phase, - phase, neutral and earth) circuits wired to 4 prong outlets and fed by 240 V GFCI breakers. I can plug in one of those octopus things that comes with generators for 120V circuits or plug in directly for 240 V for bigger loads (smoker, pump, welder...).
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:30 PM   #15
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It needs to be code compliant or your insurance goes out the window as I hinted in my earlier post. In addition to that there may be a requirement in your jurisdiction that electrical work be done by a licensed electrician.
And that's one of the reasons that I was trying to figure out a way to use the 120 outlets that are already there. I wouldn't have to install anything new.
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:40 PM   #16
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As separate circuits usually go to different parts of the house I'm picturing an outlet in the brewery cabled to one in the next room. Doesn't give me a warm tummy feeling. What would make more sense would be to pull out the 120V outlet in the brewery and replace it with a 240 V outlet and remove the white (neutral wire) from the neutral strip in the panel and tie it to the pole of another breaker on the opposite phase or better still install a two pole breaker in the panel and connect white and black to its poles. This is doubtless a code violation because those wires are supposed to be black and red but at least you now have a more or less normal installation with the exception of the color of the wires. This assumes you installed a 2 pole breaker. Using two existing breakers or adding a second single pole for this circuit would be a code violation because the two breaker poles are not mechanically linked. I guess if you put them adjacent to one another (which would give opposite phases as desired) you could put the link in thus removing that objection practically speaking if not in terms of strict adherence to the book.

Also be sure to consider wire size when choosing a breaker. The breaker is there to protect the wiring - really to protect the house by keeping the wiring from getting too hot. It's been a while but as I recall you need 12 gauge for more than 15 amps. The important consideration is that you can't just decide you want to increase the amperage and do that by replacing the breaker with a bigger one.

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Old 11-10-2012, 08:23 PM   #17
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As separate circuits usually go to different parts of the house I'm picturing an outlet in the brewery cabled to one in the next room.
Nope. One is a 30 amp 10g wire with one outlet installed on it only. The other is a 20 amp 10g wire with only one outlet on it as well. Both are right next to each other about three feet from the main breaker. This is another reason it would be nice to use what is already there rather than install new stuff. From the sounds of it though its not going to work.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:15 PM   #18
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Given that a new 20 amp 2 pole breaker would cost you about $15 it just really seems penny wise and pound foolish not to install one of those and wire to one of the existing boxes with a proper 240 V outlet. If you wrap red tape around the white wire then that would even get you kosher wrt the wire colors.

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Old 11-11-2012, 04:29 AM   #19
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is your clothes dryer in your basement?

Unplug your dryer and use that plug when you brew, then plug it back in when you are done so that your wife doesn't get upset with you.

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Old 11-11-2012, 04:47 AM   #20
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AC current has a frequency. That's the alternating part of AC. If I explain this correctly, 120v AC uses a single phase. It runs at 60Hz. It requires a neutral to complete the connection. With 240v, there are 2 120v lines, but they run in 2 phases which are 180 degrees from each other. There is no neutral. Since they are out of phase from each other, the opposite leg of each is the effective neutral. And because there are 2 legs there of 120v there is 240v.
FWIW, 240 isn't two phase power. It's just single phase power, typically with a center-tapped secondary on the transformer. Using the full winding of the transformer gives you 240V, using the center tap to either end gives you the two 120V legs.

The common terminology for this arrangement is 3-wire split phase.
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