My house was remodeled and a sub panel installed.
The electrician capped and left three unused 220V (3 wire) circuits in the panel.
That's probably standard practice. However, I would like to replace a circuit breaker with an AFCI breaker and the unused wires really clutter up the box. They also use up all of the neutral bar connections. If I remove the wires (after confirming), can I secure them above the panel....or do I need to have them in a box? What is he proper way to terminate the wires?


Wait, what? Why would 240V 3-wire need the neutral bar??

Oh, right, this is a main panel where neutral and ground bars are supposed to be bonded, so someone took the lazy but allowed approach of landing all neutrals and grounds in the neutral bar, and not having a ground bar. So your neutral bar is stuffed.

The easiest way to free up space on the neutral bar is to get an accessory ground bar for that panel and move a bunch of grounds to it.

If the hots are all disconnected, why not disconnect the ground? Because some other circuit might be relying on that for ground. In older homes where everything was not grounded, it is common for grounds to be retrofit by running a ground from the previously ungrounded receptacle to a grounded site. While dodgy in the past, this was made officially legal and recommended in the 2014 Code.

So go to the other end of the wire, and look at the termination of that ground wire and the equipment it is grounding. If nothing else is using it as a ground, then feel free to detach and cap off both ends of the ground wire. In the panel, wrap it with tape (preferably green) so it's not at risk for hitting anything hot inside the panel.

Then take all 3 wires and push them into a corner where they'll be out of the way. I recommend not tearing them out, as they can be re-tasked for a 120V or 240V-only circuit for any future need. "Leaving them alone" is way cheaper than fishing new cable.

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    You can usually double the grounds on that buss to make more room some panels even allow for 3. But never double the neutrals. The brand of the panel would be needed to know for sure. I would also save that wire it could become valuable in the future.+ – Ed Beal Dec 27 '18 at 21:06

Yes you can pull the cables out of the panel. Just coil them up neatly above the panel.

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