Where do I put the hot wire on a double pole 20 amp breaker I have a 12/2 wire I have a black and white wire I need to know does the black go on top or bottom because there is 2 screws on the braker thanks

  • Do you mean a tandem breaker where there are two breakers that fit into a single slot? In this case they are both on the same leg and it doesn't matter. If you are talking about an actual double-pole 240V breaker or a multi-wire branch circuit then you need 12/3 cable. – Steven Feb 6 '15 at 16:58
  • 4
    If you don't understand that both wires are hot, step away from the panel. – Ecnerwal Feb 6 '15 at 17:08

What are you trying to accomplish?

A double pole breaker is used to supply either a 120/240V circuit, a straight 240V circuit, or a 120V multi-wire branch circuit.

If you're wiring a 240V circuit, the black wire goes to one terminal and the white goes to the other. If you're trying to wire a 120/240V circuit, or a multi-wire branch circuit, you'll need another wire. If you're trying to wire a 120V circuit, you need a single pole breaker not a double pole.

Both terminals on a double pole breaker are hot.

| improve this answer | |
  • And in the case of a straight 240V, the white should get marked with black tape to indicate it's hot. – gregmac Apr 7 '15 at 19:35

It doesn't matter unless you want to follow a color convention that typically isn't used in residential work; primarily because most of the wire is cable assemblies and not 12/3 where you'd have a red wire as well.

The color convention I speak of is Black-Red (Black-Red-Blue for 3-phase). This means as you go down from the top and both sides of breakers in the panel alternate in color.

1 Black 2
3 Red 4
5 Black 6
. . .

A 2-pole breaker spans two colors. Depending on where it's at, the "proper" way could be top or bottom. But like I said, it doesn't matter in terms of delivering power or for code.

| improve this answer | |
  • In this case it matters because they need a neutral, they have a ground they are not the same thing. – Ed Beal Nov 13 '18 at 18:40
  • @EdBeal, I'm not reading it that way; where do they say they "need a neutral"?. They do have a white (12/2), but that doesn't imply a need for a grounded conductor. – ChiefTwoPencils Nov 23 '18 at 6:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.