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I have a scenario where the Circuit Breakers for a Dryer and a Range are intertwined in the CB panel. In the picture below 17 and 20 are ganged together with that wild ganging clip. 18 and 19 both 30amps are ganged together normally.

  1. Is this kind of ganging of breakers with in code ?
  2. Why would anyone do this ?
  3. Why wouldn't they just connect this normally 17 & 18 and then 19 & 20?

CB panel

EDIT 7-11-2018

Based on write ups and comments etc.. I felt it better to edit my post rather than to go through each write-up/comment.

Please don't read anything into the numbering of spaces, I was told the previous homeowner did that numbering.

  • 17 & 20 Range........40 Amp Range.
  • 18 & 19 Dryer..........30 Amp Dryer.
  • 1 & 2, 3 & 4.............60 Amp Heater.
  • 5 & 6, 7 & 8.............30 Amp Air Conditioner.
  • 21 & 22, 23 & 24.....30 Amp Water Heater.

I know each pole is 120V circuit. I know that you gang them in a 240V circuit (L1,L2) - in a residence in USA you don't normally get 220V Single Phase (HI-Leg or Stinger Leg - of course they all sting if you ask me).

So each pole Odd/Even slot - A & B Phase if you will (L1, L2). Normally Odd (1, 3, 5 etc) is L1 and Even (2,4,6 etc) is L2 (of course I don't think code states which is L1 and which is L2). That way when you place a 240V breaker in; it takes up the Odd Slot {120V - L1} and the Even Slot {120V - L2} for 240V. This might be panel dependent but that is the jist of getting 240V from L1 and L2.

As for the breaker in question I do believe it is a Quad as some have linked to. Which basically sounds like 2 Double Stuffs in one unit , in order to fit the number of breakers that are needed. Seems to me the Builder did not size the panel correctly and just Stuffed away.

  • Can you give us a closeup of the breaker in question? I can't read the labeling off it well enough to tell if it's an independent trip or a common trip quadplex...) – ThreePhaseEel Jul 10 '18 at 11:44
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    Likely this breaker. It should be noted there are more restrictions on usage than standard double stuff breakers, they don’t fit every space in every Siemens panel. – Tyson Jul 10 '18 at 12:19
  • Lots of electricians tend to forget that it was not that long ago the was a strict limit to the number of slots, by using tandem or double stuff breakers this provided more branch circuits. In the past the handle ties were all that was needed, today a common trip mechanism is required. Code allows this of it was legal when the wiring was done you are not required to update the panel. – Ed Beal Jul 10 '18 at 12:21
  • What does that 60A breaker turn off/control? – ThreePhaseEel Jul 11 '18 at 2:28
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This is a bit backwards, but OK as long as the breakers have a common trip mechanism inside them

Normally, you'd see this configuration as a 30-40-40-30, but either way, this is a quadplex breaker, where the outside half-poles are ganged together to form 1 240V circuit while the inside half-poles are ganged together to form the other 240V circuit. You wouldn't get anything good out of the other configuration, as the two upper half-poles connect to the same bus stab (i.e. are on the same leg), and likewise with the two lower half-poles. The crazy-looking handle-tie (what you call a "ganging clip") is manufacturer-supplied, and normal for this type of quadplex breaker -- it allows the handles to be operated together when you operate them by hand. Common trip is handled by an internal mechanism, however.

As to why someone would do this? They simply ran out of panel space -- this is also evidenced by the large quantity of double-stuff breakers in the panel. (This is why putting in a panel that barely fits is penny-wise and pound-foolish, especially for the main panel in a building.) It's OK by Code as long as the panel is labeled and listed to accept double-stuff breakers in those two slots -- check your panel labeling for details.

  • Your comments and questions were right on and as I read more on the Quad - I came to realize that is exactly what it is. Then I also came to realize the builder of this home was CHEAPER than CHEAP. While it passed code, he had to "improvise" in order to get things to work out with the panel in Question. Not only that there was not a single space left for additional circuits - you would think the next panel size up wouldn't have broken the ability to sell the home! – Ken Jul 11 '18 at 7:56
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Because you haven't numberd braker spaces - you've numbered half spaces. Each space only has one pole, so a breaker that only takes one space (i.e. 17-18) can only access 120V.

Your 240V breakers need two poles.

See this discussion of how poles work.

That is actually a 16 space breaker panel. That is far too small for a modern home. They lean very heavily on the double-stuff breaker "crutch" but that is not allowed anymore: most circuits today require AFCI and/or GFCI and/or whatever they come up with next. Far and away the easiest and least awkward way to do that is xFCI+breaker combo devices, and none of those will fit in a half space. They can't be double-stuffed.

A better panel size choice is 30-space, but even there you'd already be out of spaces on day one... This is why we recommend a 40+ space panel.

  • But if you don't have >$2k for a new panel installed, could you use GFCI and AFCI receptacles strategically placed? – Jim Stewart Jul 10 '18 at 21:30
  • @JimStewart -- you could, yes -- this is sometimes done when an obsolete but reliable panel is still giving good service – ThreePhaseEel Jul 10 '18 at 22:51
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To go right to your point, in simplified language and using your numbering system, #17 and #18 are on the same leg (0 V difference); same with #19 and #20. To get a pair of 2-pole 240 V circuits this type of breaker pairs #17 and #20 for the 40 A circuit and #18 and #19 for the 30 A circuit.

The visible physical links between #17 and #20 and between #18 and #19 insure that if you manually switch the breaker both breakers will be switched. These are 2-pole breakers powering a single 240 V circuit and you want either both on or both off.

In addition, according to @Tyson (comment) each pair of this model of linked breakers is "common trip", meaning there is an electrical connection inside which causes the other breaker of the pair to trip even if the over-current in only in one of the pair. (This could happen if only one leg was shorted to neutral or to gnd.) There are breaker pairs which have a physical link that are not common trip. These are used for a different purpose than powering a single 240 V circuit.

EDIT I was under the impression this was a split bus panel, but not so.

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    I actually am kinda doubting that it's split buss -- we don't have enough to go on. Also, it is only mixed-voltage (120/240V together) circuits that need common trip. – ThreePhaseEel Jul 10 '18 at 22:52
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    @ThreePhaseEel Ken could settle it by seeing the effect of switching off the 60 A breaker. The 60 A size is what is used to feed the bottom in my split phase panel and in the other current split phase panel from Seattle. – Jim Stewart Jul 11 '18 at 2:07
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    @ThreePhaseEel you are correct It is not a split buss - the 60AMP is for the heater (at least that is how it is labeled on the door). The breaker in question is the odd ball - I am thinking it is a Quad as others have stated (I never saw one before) . – Ken Jul 11 '18 at 7:51
  • So is there a main breaker/disconnection means elsewhere? in a box outside under the meter? What is the manufacturer and age of this panel? – Jim Stewart Jul 11 '18 at 11:07
  • The current pic of the panel is cropped. What is above and below in the panel? Is there a 150 A main breaker in this panel? Where is this and what type of residence? – Jim Stewart Jul 11 '18 at 11:23

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