1

Due to an ordering error a long time ago, I have too many 30A 1-pole "CH" brand breakers. (these are single breakers, not tandem/double-stuff). As you probably realize, there isn't much call for 120V/30A circuits, so these breakers are a dunsel.

However I have need for 30A 2-pole breakers for 240V and 120/240V circuits.

Can I use a handle-tie listed for these breakers to combine two 1-pole breakers into a 240V 2-pole breaker? I am under NEC 2014.

  • Is this a 240V only load, or a 120/240V load? – ThreePhaseEel Feb 6 '17 at 23:26
  • Some of each. It's CH type. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 6 '17 at 23:27
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    Is it too late to return them to the supplier and get the right parts? Might cost you a restocking fee, but safety gear is not something to bodge. – Criggie Feb 7 '17 at 7:48
  • @Criggie Far too late, unfortunately. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 7 '17 at 15:18
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The Eaton type CH is typical among modern breakers in that multipole common tripping is performed by an internal mechanism, not by the handle tie. This is noted in the Eaton catalog in the spec description of the type CH breaker (page V1-T1-31 of the Eaton catalog, emphasis mine):

Product Description

Quick-make, quick-break switch mechanism combined with inverse time element tripping operation and trip-free handle design. Type CH circuit breakers trip to the OFF position, eliminating nuisance callbacks. The CHF family also includes a trip flag to differentiate between a trip and the breaker being turned off. The thermal-magnetic trip curve avoids nuisance tripping on mild overloads while reacting almost instantaneously to severe short-circuit conditions. Multipole breakers have internal common trip connection to operate all poles simultaneously. Handles are marked with ON-OFF indication and ampere rating of the breaker.

and in footnote 2 on the accessories table (page V1-T1-38):

  1. Handle ties: typically used to join two similar independent single-pole breakers to form a two-pole noncommon trip breaker.

This means that the combination of 2 single pole type CH breakers and a handle tie is only usable for 240V only or 120V only circuits as per NEC 240.15(B)(1) and 240.15(B)(2):

(B) Circuit Breaker as Overcurrent Device. Circuit breakers shall open all ungrounded conductors of the circuit both manually and automatically unless otherwise permitted in 240.15(B)(1), (B)(2), (B)(3), and (B)(4).

(1) Multiwire Branch Circuits. Individual single-pole circuit breakers, with identified handle ties, shall be permitted as the protection for each ungrounded conductor of multi-wire branch circuits that serve only single-phase line-to-neutral loads.

(2) Grounded Single-Phase Alternating-Current Circuits. In grounded systems, individual single-pole circuit breakers rated 120/240 volts ac, with identified handle ties, shall be permitted as the protection for each ungrounded conductor for line-to-line connected loads for single-phase circuits.

As to breaker ratings, the CH line has you covered as well. All standard (i.e. no GF or AF functions) single pole CH, CHF, CHT, CH-HID, CHP, CH-M50, CH-HM and CHP-HM breakers are rated 120/240VAC, so they are listed for handle tied service on 240VAC only split phase circuits.

Furthermore, the UL Circuit Breaker Marking Guide states in paragraph 40 that

An external handle tie alone does not qualify as a common trip mechanism — a breaker of this type is marked to indicate it is an independent trip breaker.

4

It may not provide a legal breaker for a 30-A 240-V circuit such as for a dryer that uses 240 V and 120 V because the tie bar only works for manual shut-off. If one breaker trips due to over-current, it is not assured to pull off the other breaker unless that is an explicitly stated property of this model breaker.

I think the only use of tied 1-pole breakers is for powering circuits from two breakers with a shared neutral, an arrangement which I think is called a multi-wire branch circuit. But that would probably be with 20-A or 15-A breakers. I think you should return the extra 1-pole 30-A breakers.

  • You can also use two tied single pole breakers for a 240VAC only circuit such as a water heater. You simply can't use them in mixed 120/240V applications. – ThreePhaseEel Feb 7 '17 at 3:24
2

Adding listed handle ties to 2 120v breakers provides a legal 240 breaker. Added The 2014 NEC hand book 210.4.B commentary identifies that 2 single pole breakers with an identified handle tie or a 2 pole breaker is allowed. 210.4 is multiwire branch circuits. 230.71.B single pole switches or breakers shall be permitted on multiwire circuits, 1 pole for each ungrounded conductor.. with identified handle ties. 240.15.B.2 allows for line to line loads 120/240 breaker grounded system & identified handle ties.

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    A legal independent trip 2-pole breaker. Some applications require a common trip function, which handle-tying doesn't provide. – ThreePhaseEel Feb 6 '17 at 23:20
  • I would agree but some cases allow for ties and they are legal. Unlike the 8 penny nail that used to be used. – Ed Beal Feb 6 '17 at 23:48
  • The key is "listed", and although handle ties are available using them you must not only use a listed handle tie but two single pole breakers that are listed for use on 120/240 with a handle tie. Most single pole won't carry the "/240" part. It's easier to use a listed double pole breaker with an internal common trip than to try and prove you've met all the conditions. @ThreePhaseEel – Tyson Feb 7 '17 at 0:44
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    @Tyson -- the listed handle tie actually isn't the hard part (any electrical supply house can get you them). The problem is that handle tied single pole breakers still trip independently in all modern breaker designs (I suspect this is an inherent consequence of having the breaker "trip free"). This means that you can only use them where you only need both poles disconnected at once (i.e. 240VAC-only circuits and MWBCs), not in cases where both poles must trip together such as a ranger or dryer load with both 120VAC and 240VAC bits. – ThreePhaseEel Feb 7 '17 at 2:21
  • @ThreePhaseEel right, the listed handle tie isn't the problem, finding a single pole breaker listed 120/240 is tho because single pole breakers don't carry the /240 part... I hadn't adequately considered a MWBC tho... – Tyson Feb 7 '17 at 2:42
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No you can't use two single pole circuit breakers and tie the handles together per article 240.8

240.8 FUSES OR CIRCUIT BREAKERS IN PARALLEL Fuses and circuit breakers shall be permitted to be connected in parallel where they are factory assembled in parallel and listed as a unit. Individual fuses, circuit breakers, or combinations thereof shall NOT otherwise be connected in parallel

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    That code segment addresses paralleling so it applies to a slightly different question: "All I have is 14AWG wire, can I use two 15A breakers to feed a 30A load". – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 31 '18 at 14:35
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What if you were using gfci breakers? Jumped the neutrals together that way when one trips they both trip and they are breaker tied together. Already tested it and it works fine. There for I took 2 single pole 120v. 20amp breakers and made them 20amp 240v. I have not found any issues with that.

  • Bad advice. Just because it works in your test doesn't mean it will work in a real-world fault situation, and it will not meet code requirements. – longneck Oct 23 '18 at 13:00

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