Good day, folks. I have a follow-up question related to my other post (yesterday) regarding MC 12/4 with a blue wire: <https://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/211590/new-circuit-help-please-feeding-2-gang receptacle-boxes-with-mc-12-4>

two circuits

... after having read something in an another 15-month-old thread here in the forum: Should I use pigtails for pass-through split outlet connections?

... given it seems that it could be applicable to my situation. In my case, each receptacle box will receive power from two independent circuits. I have already installed two independent 1-pole Eaton CH type 120V-20A breakers (matched to my box), which is one breaker for each circuit. So after reading this thread below, do I need to use a 2-pole breaker instead? Or am I good with the two independent breakers? My preference is to keep them as individual circuits so the breakers don’t risk “not” tripping under an overcurrent situation on just one leg of the 2-pole breaker. I’d really appreciate your explaining where this is in the code and how to interpret what I have vs. what Harper wrote about if they’re indeed different.

**Harper - Reinstate Monica wrote:**

> **Breakers**

This is not a multi-wire branch circuit. This is two independent circuits on a single "yoke". Because of this, the two independent circuits must be handle-tied. 

A handle-tie must come from the manufacturer of your breakers; you can't use a nail. While you're there, make sure your breakers are correct for your panel because there's no point buying a handle-tie for an alien breaker. If they are the same manufactuerer (Bryant=Cutler Hammer=Eaton), you are all set. Otherwise, they are probably wrong but ask. 

Handle-ties are annoyingly difficult to find, and overpriced for being a bit of plastic.  As such, some of us recommend using a 2-pole breaker instead - they are very easy to find for modernish panels, and they cost the same as 2 singles without having to pay for a handle-tie also. 

The only difference is common trip (both shut off if one is overloaded): a 2-pole breaker guarantees this, a handle-tie does not guarantee it. For this purpose, we only need tied handles to assure common maintenance shutoff.

Is this applicable to me? Or can I leave two independent breakers being sure to clearly label the receptacle boxes?

Again, many thanks for your time and support! 🎄🎄 Happy Holidays! 🎄🎄


1 Answer 1


Since each circuit has its own yoke of receptacles, you're fine

The rule that Harper's referring to is in NEC 210.7:

210.7 Multiple Branch Circuits. Where two or more branch circuits supply devices or equipment on the same yoke or mounting strap, a means to simultaneously disconnect the ungrounded supply conductors shall be provided at the point at which the branch circuits originate.

Since you are giving each circuit its own duplex receptacle, and thus its own yoke, though, this rule does not apply to your situation, so you can leave the two breakers un-handle-tied. (Note also that since you're dealing with 120V AC, 406.5(J) does not apply to you, either -- that rule's generally only a concern when dealing with 277/480V systems found in industrial work)

  • Thank you again, sir. So can we use an example to help my understanding/comprehension? Does this mean, for example, where you bring power in from a separate circuit, to enable 3-way switching, for example, that the two breakers need to be handle-tied? Also, I guess I need to understand what a yoke is. Is there a good site that breaks the NEC down? Thank you! Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 21:39
  • 1
    @riffin-rich -- Mike Holt's site and books are rather helpful re: the NEC in general. And for 3-way switching, there's only one branch circuit coming from the breaker panel, so you don't have to worry about handleties in that case. As to what a "yoke" is, it's simply the mounting strap for a set of one or more switches, receptacles, or other devices (i.e. the thing that has the mounting holes/"ears" in it) Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 22:15

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