I have a 240 volt 20 amp receptacle in 4x4 box. There is a neutral wire not being used in the box. Can I use (share) a 120 leg of the 240 with the neutral to a 120 duplex receptacle in the same box coming off the 240 circuit breaker? There is nothing on the 240v line now, but I want to have it available just in case I want to plug my table saw in and have 120v available at the same time. This is in my man-cave and every 240v and 120v receptacle is on it's own separate circuit breaker.

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. I'm sure the pros will weigh in, but this amateur is guessing "no way". Nov 14, 2016 at 2:55
  • Can one have both 240V and 120V receptacles on the same multiwire branch circuit?
    – Dan D.
    Nov 14, 2016 at 17:28
  • If you have 4 wires, yes you CAN. But if an one catches it they will probably flame you in some way, much like I am expecting to get from this comment. It would even be a generally safe use case although in no way code worthy. 3 wires though, no way.
    – Damon
    Nov 15, 2016 at 6:39
  • The breaker for this 240V circuit is a two-pole common trip unit, correct? Nov 16, 2016 at 1:57

3 Answers 3


Check what breaker you have first!

Amazingly enough, this is actually permitted by Code under certain (common, but not universal) circumstances!

What you are creating is a multiwire branch circuit as per 210.4. Normally, only line-to-neutral loads are allowed, but IF the breaker for this circuit is a two pole common trip unit (most two and three pole breakers are, although if the circuit is fed from the outer sections of a quadruplex breaker, you definitely can't do this as there is no way to get two common trips in that form factor), Exception 2 to 210.4(C) allows the circuit to feed both line-to-neutral and line-to-line loads (and even three phase loads for wye connected three phase MWBCs)

210.4 Multiwire Branch Circuits.

(A) General. Branch circuits recognized by this article shall be permitted as multiwire circuits. A multiwire circuit shall be permitted to be considered as multiple circuits. All conductors of a multiwire branch circuit shall originate from the same panelboard or similar distribution equipment.

(B) Disconnecting Means. Each multiwire branch circuit shall be provided with a means that will simultaneously disconnect all ungrounded conductors at the point where the branch circuit originates.

Informational Note: See 240.15(B) for information on the use of single-pole circuit breakers as the disconnecting means.

(C) Line-to-Neutral Loads. Multiwire branch circuits shall supply only line-to-neutral loads.

Exception No.1: A multiwire branch circuit that supplies only one utilization equipment.

Exception No.2: Where all ungrounded conductors of the multiwire branch circuit are opened simultaneously by the branch-circuit overcurrent device.

  • This OP can ignore (C) because of exception #1? (because they have "every 240v and 120v receptacle is on it's own separate circuit breaker" making it only one utilization equipment)? Side note, I think this leaves you with an unbalanced neutral but that's not against code AFAIK.
    – Mazura
    Nov 17, 2016 at 3:25
  • @Mazura -- exception #2 in this case, provided the breaker for the circuit in question is of the two pole common trip type (which is likely true, but the OP hasn't given us enough information to verify) Nov 17, 2016 at 3:27

(Erroneous statement removed)

The one way I'm fairly sure you could do this would be to rewire so the current line feeds a secondary breaker/fuse box, with separate breakers for the 240 and 120 coming off that. (I may be wrong, though.)

  • you are incorrect on your assertion re: the 240 line allowing too much current. However, you are correct AFAICT in the overall conclusion that you'd need to shove a subpanel here to do this. (I'm just not sure where in the code that requirement is...) Nov 14, 2016 at 3:36
  • ... right. Thx!
    – keshlam
    Nov 14, 2016 at 3:51
  • Turns out, my earlier comment here was likely incorrect... Nov 17, 2016 at 3:27

So, to do this would require a hot device screw with two connections. Or a pigtail in one hot. Not a good plan.

Secondly, one leg of the circuit could potentially have more load than the other if both a 120v and a 240v load were engaged. Also not a good plan.

A small sub-panel would be my first answer.

  • Sub-panel doesn't reduce the imbalance, just make it explicit. Which is still an improvement.
    – keshlam
    Nov 17, 2016 at 3:33
  • Everything in this answer is actually allowed, though. It does require a 2-pole breaker. 240+120 actually balances quite nicely, because N and L2 split the return current, running cooler as a result. Nov 30, 2018 at 18:37

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