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I purchased a Hubbell "USB Dual Port Charger with 15A Duplex Receptacle" from Lowes to replace the duplex receptacle on my kitchen island.

I first opened the circuit labelled for the island. The breaker takes two slots. I removed the existing receptacle and noticed that the brass screws had a black and red wire. The bridge between the screws was not broken.

I connected the new USB charging receptacle as: white wire to silver screw, bare to green screw, and the black and red wires to the brass screw. I put everything back together.

When I closed the circuit the fuse blew as well as tripping the mains to the house. I took the receptacle out of the metal gang box to ensure that it wasn't touching. I verified the connections as stated above. With the receptacle hanging outside of the gang box I closed the breaker only to have it and the mains trip.

I reconnected the old simple receptacle and closed the breaker with no problems. I tried with just the black wire in the new receptacle and it worked! But now I can't connect the new receptacle with this new red wire.

I researched the uses of the red wire however none of them seem to apply to my kitchen. The fuse box lists the island as the only part to control and nothing else in the kitchen turned off when I opened the circuit. There is only one receptacle on the island and no other electrical items including lights.

Why would the kitchen island of only one receptacle require both black and red? why would this USB charger receptacle be so sensitive to two hot wires? why would this single outlet require such a large breaker switch?

And finally... is there anything I can do so that I can install this receptacle?

Thanks!

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"The bridge between the screws was not broken" Are you 100% sure of that? Because the common use for black and red wires and a two-pole breaker in a kitchen outlet circuit is for a common neutral circuit (multiwire branch circuit), and shorting the two phases together with the new outlet would produce exactly the symptoms you have seen. So I'm going to suggest that the two sides of the old outlet are not actually connected, and if you don't have a meter you can check that with, I'll provide you an alternate test that does not involve looking at the connection, which you've already done and come to (I suspect) the wrong conclusion about:

Cap the red (or black) wire and connect only the black (or red) wire to the old outlet. Plug something into one receptacle, and see if has power. Then plug it into the other side. Repeat with the other wire (only) connected to the other side (only.) If I'm right, in each case, only half the outlet will have power, and which half will change with which screw you connect to.

It appears that the device you have probably only has one hot screw, so it cannot be connected the same way as the old outlet with two separate hots; so leave one wire capped off, or install it somewhere other than your kitchen (the reason for using this type of circuit in the kitchen is to provide more circuits to the countertop outlets - this device defeats that if it cannot have two separate hot feeds.)

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    Well that is embarrassing. I must have looked at the white side twice because I did think to look for it. Yes indeed the bridge is broken. So because of that I'll leave this alone as it was likely well thought out to have heavy kitchen appliances running. Thank you! – seamus Sep 1 '14 at 2:34
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Whatever that red wire runs to appears to have a short circuit to neutral or ground. Were it mine, I'd experiment with capping off the red wire by itself and using only the black/white/bare wires to the new receptacle, then see if anything else in the area fails to work. If everything else has power, you're finished.

  • If this were true, the old outlet would not work correctly. The red wire runs to the opposite phase of power from the black wire (there's going to be 240V between them) and the short circuit is being caused by connecting the two of them to the same screw on this outlet. – Ecnerwal Sep 1 '14 at 2:03
  • @Ecnerwal - I figured that couldn't be true if (as in the OP) "the brass screws had a black and red wire. The bridge between the screws was not broken" (bold mine). – TDHofstetter Sep 1 '14 at 2:37

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