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  • Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

    Looking for some ideas from those of you who are more knowledgeable than I.

    I have an old 220V outlet in my master bedroom that once powered a window A/C unit before central air was installed. It is on a dedicated 40A circuit with old 3 wire #10.

    I'm thinking about pulling that 40A 2-pole breaker, connecting the existing wiring to one of the skinny 20A breakers and repurposing the red wire as a ground. That way I have another useable outlet and a good, heavy wire for a jumping off point if I want to expand that circuit in the future as well as room for as many as three additional circuits if they become necessary.

    Can anyone foresee problems with this plan or perhaps a better way to proceed?

  • #2
    Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

    Get rid of that 40 A breaker no matter what you do. #10 wire needs to be protected by a 30A max breaker.
    Pretty sure that by the time window air conditioners came out all wire had a ground, it may have been snipped off but should be there unless they used an old piece. What colours do you have? Black/White/Red? or Black/Red/Bare?

    Either way you need to repurpose one of the hot wires as a neutral, the outlet should already be grounded. You would need to wrap the ends with white tape to indicate neutral

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    • #3
      Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

      You can not use the red as a ground, even if you mark it.
      A ground must be green or bare.
      As a 220 circuit, it should have a ground anyway.
      If it has a ground, you can not remark a red or black wire as a neutral anyway.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

        If it has a ground, you can not remark a red or black wire as a neutral anyway.

        WHY NOT? When black THHN wire is pulled through conduit and terminated it is marked with white, red, (already black),blue and green. As long as there is no JB in the line this can be done. If this guy has a straight run with no JB, why can't he remark the color of the wire?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

          If he has no ground and no JB why couldn't he strip the red wire bare at both ends and use it for a ground?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

            Originally posted by wbrooks View Post
            Get rid of that 40 A breaker no matter what you do. #10 wire needs to be protected by a 30A max breaker.
            Pretty sure that by the time window air conditioners came out all wire had a ground, it may have been snipped off but should be there unless they used an old piece. What colours do you have? Black/White/Red? or Black/Red/Bare?

            Either way you need to repurpose one of the hot wires as a neutral, the outlet should already be grounded. You would need to wrap the ends with white tape to indicate neutral
            Just to clarify...

            The wiring is 3-wire ungrounded - black red and white.

            I want to go from 220V to 120V. This circuit has been completely unused for at least 20 years and my plan was to disconnect the old "angry" 220V outlet, replace it with a 20A GFCI outlet, strip the red wire for use as a ground and connect the black hot and white neutral as usual. (#12 jumpers may be required)

            At the panel I intend to remove the 40A breaker (the fat, 2-pole variety - it covers four slots (meaning that I could fit 4 "skinny breakers" in that space)), replace it with a skinny 20A GE style breaker. I will leave the white neutral connected to the neutral bus, strip the red, use a scrap of bare #10 as a jumper to get to the grounding bus and connect the black to the new breaker.

            This way I have enough space in the panel (totally full in its present configuration) to feed a sub in the garage if I ever get "done" enough with my wife's portion of the house to start working on my toys.


            Does that make sense?

            Foresee any problems? I'm not an electrician and while I believe that this project is completely within my ability to execute correctly, I have not had the benefit of electrical theory training and wanted to run the plan by you guys to be certain I wasn't missing something.

            EDIT: by the way, was there a time when #10 for a run of about 30 linear feet would have been acceptable with a 40A breaker? There are a number of possibilities but I think that 2 are most likely - the wire may actually be #8 or the previous owner may have installed a new breaker because a smaller one was tripping (lots of dodgy previous owner electrical projects have been uncovered).

            EDIT #2: Totally straight run, dedicated circuit, no junction box. Begins at the panel and ends at the outlet. I think this circuit was afterthought/retrofit. It's just a waste of space now.
            Last edited by jimboburnsy; 08-13-2009, 10:50 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

              Sounds like a good plan as long as you can find a slim breaker that fits the panel.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                Originally posted by wbrooks View Post
                Sounds like a good plan as long as you can find a slim breaker that fits the panel.
                Got a whole bag of 'em.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                  One other point. Be sure that when you add the twin for the shop that it spans a slot that catches both feeds. Some panels allow you to pop in a twin in a slot that is only fed by one side of the incoming power. What you will see at the breaker is 120V from either hot to neutral but 0 V across the two hot terminals, move the breaker up or down a slot and you should then have the 120 from each hot to neutral and 240 across the hots

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                    Originally posted by wbrooks View Post
                    One other point. Be sure that when you add the twin for the shop that it spans a slot that catches both feeds. Some panels allow you to pop in a twin in a slot that is only fed by one side of the incoming power. What you will see at the breaker is 120V from either hot to neutral but 0 V across the two hot terminals, move the breaker up or down a slot and you should then have the 120 from each hot to neutral and 240 across the hots
                    Running a sub to the garage is a bit of a flight of fancy at this point and it isn't really the kind of project I would be willing to tackle in a ninja mask while hiding from code enforcement.

                    I'll have a pro pulling the permits and doing the fancy work while I dig the holes, run to the store and climb in the attic. I've learned a lot from electricians by offering myself as helper (and saved a lot of money that way).

                    EDIT: My panel does provide the opportunity to bollucks up a 240V circuit. I wasn't aware that any did not...
                    Last edited by jimboburnsy; 08-13-2009, 11:10 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                      Originally posted by QROKING View Post
                      If it has a ground, you can not remark a red or black wire as a neutral anyway.

                      WHY NOT? When black THHN wire is pulled through conduit and terminated it is marked with white, red, (already black),blue and green. As long as there is no JB in the line this can be done. If this guy has a straight run with no JB, why can't he remark the color of the wire?
                      Art. 200.6 Means of identifying Grounded conductors smaller than #6

                      A continious white or gray covering, or 3 continuous white stripes on other than green insulation along it entire length.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                        Originally posted by jimboburnsy View Post
                        Just to clarify...

                        The wiring is 3-wire ungrounded - black red and white.

                        I want to go from 220V to 120V. This circuit has been completely unused for at least 20 years and my plan was to disconnect the old "angry" 220V outlet, replace it with a 20A GFCI outlet, strip the red wire for use as a ground and connect the black hot and white neutral as usual. (#12 jumpers may be required)

                        At the panel I intend to remove the 40A breaker (the fat, 2-pole variety - it covers four slots (meaning that I could fit 4 "skinny breakers" in that space)), replace it with a skinny 20A GE style breaker. I will leave the white neutral connected to the neutral bus, strip the red, use a scrap of bare #10 as a jumper to get to the grounding bus and connect the black to the new breaker.

                        This way I have enough space in the panel (totally full in its present configuration) to feed a sub in the garage if I ever get "done" enough with my wife's portion of the house to start working on my toys.


                        Does that make sense?
                        You have the right idea except rather than stripping the red wire, why not just tape both ends well with green color coding tape? You know it's a ground wire then and you know which cable it's part of too.

                        For what this is worth, everyone please note that you do NOT ever make a grounding conductor any color other than green or bare. You can do green and yellow strips but never even dream of having it gray or white. If it's dark gray someone will mix it with black and turn your ground into a hot conductor. BAD NEWS then for sure. Also, if it looks like it might be white then it will get thought of as a neutral which is NOT a ground and in most cases is not at the same potential as a true ground. Again, this is BAD NEWS for sure.
                        Last edited by Woussko; 08-16-2009, 05:19 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                          Originally posted by Woussko View Post
                          You have the right idea except rather than stripping the red wire, why not just tape both ends well with green color coding tape? You know it's a ground wire then and you know which cable it's part of too.
                          The only "why not" I can come up with is "Because I didn't think of it".

                          Also, while I may have some green marking tape lying around somewhere, stripping the wire is free. Marking tape would necessitate spending about $.30 in gas and then $.60 on tape. Too inconvenient.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                            one could just run the correct wire and pull the old out,
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                            • #15
                              Re: Old 220V Outlet repurposing...

                              Originally posted by BHD View Post
                              one could just run the correct wire and pull the old out,
                              That's true, but I'm not sure it makes economic sense to pull the oversized, in situ wiring that is exactly where I need it to be. The pitch of my roof over that part of the house makes fishing through the riser and walls a real pain and to access that portion of the attic I have to REALLY, REALLY want to.

                              If there isn't a problem with re-purposing that I'm missing, it seems to be the superior option. (didn't I just say that spending $.90 was too inconvenient?)
                              Last edited by jimboburnsy; 08-17-2009, 10:40 AM.

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