Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

On our circuit breaker, we have several circuits that are linked together by a metal handle. For instance, there are several cases of three 20A circuits all linked together, meaning you can only flip all three at once. Does that mean those three 20A circuits equal 60A? If not, what is the purpose of having multiple circuits linked together?

share|improve this question
3 breakers tied together, you're running three phase equipment. Is this some sort of manufacturing facility? – Fiasco Labs Aug 28 '14 at 4:09
@FiascoLabs - it's an old building that's been around since 1919. We're just using it to run our computers, lights, etc. No special equipment, but this building has been a lot of things in the last century so wouldn't surprise me if there was manufacturing equipment here at some point. – Dan Aug 28 '14 at 14:26
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Each circuit is rated 20 amperes.

Handles are typically tied together when all the breakers are supplying a single piece of equipment. For example, in a 120/240 volt single phase system, two breakers might be tied together for a piece of equipment that requires 240 volts. Three breakers tied together would be common for a 3 phase systems.

In all situations, the circuits are still rated whatever is listed on the handle, not the total of the breakers.

share|improve this answer

There are several reasons for having two-pole breakers, or handle-tied breakers. 240V circuits or multi-wire branch circuits (shared neutral) both require two-pole breakers.

The amperage of a breaker is what's on the handle. You DO NOT add up the numbers. A single pole 20A breaker is (for residential in the US at least) a 20A/120V breaker. A two-pole 20A breaker is a 20A/240V breaker.

share|improve this answer
Handles can also be tied together in a shared neutral configuration, but that wouldn't apply to the OP's case with three handles tied together. – TomG Aug 28 '14 at 11:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.