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I wired an outside outlet plug on my back porch and ran it off my breaker box, used a 20 amp breaker, used 14/2 wire, hooked the white and black wires to the outlet plug and cut the ground wire off short (the guy at Home Depot told me to do it that way).

I used a double 20 amp breaker and wired white on top and black on bottom and ground to the strip with all the screws in it, which in that same strip it does have a ground connected to it from a 240 RV outlet, all within the breaker panel. So would that be considered having it wired for 240? The breaker does not trip, just keeps blowing bulbs.

I tried the plug with some Christmas lights and they came on fine, but then I plugged in a lamp and it immediately blows the bulb. I tried 3 more bulbs and the same results, does the ground wire have to be connected too? or should I use a 15 amp breaker instead of the 20? or is my wire I'm using too small of a gauge? Help!

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  • Measuring the actual voltage at the outlet plug would be a good first step.
    – DJohnM
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 1:50
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    4 bulbs, eh? Just couldn't get past the denial of impending disaster? 240 volts and no ground will get you there in a hurry. Time to make friends with a local licensed electrician.
    – isherwood
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 3:38
  • 14/2 on 20A... neutral on a double breaker... common recep on a 240V circuit... not knowing ground and neutral are different things... trying to serve an RV with /2... fire your electrician! Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 9:10

4 Answers 4

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First off. With a 20 ampere breaker, you must use at least 12 AWG copper conductors. The 14 AWG you used is to small, and should be replaced.

Second. By connecting the wires to a double pole breaker, you've indeed created a 240 volt circuit. If that was your intention, you should have installed a NEMA 6-20 receptacle. This would have prevented you from plugging 120 volt loads into the receptacle, as the prongs would not have fit. If this was not your intention, you should rewire the circuit using a single pole breaker.

Third. You should not have cut the grounding conductor short. You should have connected it to the grounding screw on the receptacle, and to the box if it is metal.

Lastly. It sounds like you don't know much about electrical work, and should likely contact a local licensed Electrician.

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The National Electrical Code prohibits anything larger than a 15 amp breaker for 14 gauge wire for normal power and lighting.

That is not the reason for your problem but if the cable overheats it could cause a fire before the breaker trips.

Don't listen to a guy at Home Depot for electrical advice unless he is an experienced electrician.

My first suspicion is that you have wired it 240 volts instead of 120 but without more information it is impossible to determine. The lamps are rated for 125 volts and the breaker would normally trip if you dead short something. Christmas lights are series / parallel wired and may be able to handle double the voltage for a short time.

Recheck your wiring and make sure you didn't connect the white wire to a breaker or your cable to a circuit that is wired for 240 volts.

Normally, the ground should be connected to the receptacle not cut off. If you have a metal box it should be grounded with a pigtail or by using a self-grounding receptacle.

Good luck!

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    The comment left as an answer by the OP clearly indicates that the outlet is wired 240. You were spot on. And no ground to boot. Yikes.
    – isherwood
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 3:41
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At this point you should call a licensed professional. Usually there are very helpful and knowledgeable people at home depot, but the person you spoke to is obviously not in the trade and has no idea what he is talking about. For your safety don't use the outlet until you have an electrician take a look at it, and the next time you're at home depot let a manager know that the person is giving out bad information.

The reason it blows bulbs and not the breaker, is that the filament inside the bulb is acting like a fuse and blowing before the breaker can respond. you are extremely lucky that all you have ruined is a few bulbs and didn't plug something expensive in. Also not using a ground is a direct violation of the National Electric Code. A ground is there for your safety and to protect anything plugged into that outlet. Please consult a local electrician before going any further.

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Somebody forgot to mention that the outlet must be weather resistant tamper resistant GFCI [wr/tr] with an in use bubble cover. The black wire connects to the 15 amp single pole breaker and the brass colored or dark screw on the outlet. The white wire goes on the neutral bar in the panel with all the other white wires. The ground wire if this is not the service equipment and theirs a main outside the ground wire goes the ground bar with all the other ground wires, if this is the main panel the ground wire goes on the neutral bar or a ground bar were all the other ground wires are. At the outlet the ground wire wraps around a ground screw in the metal box and then to the green screw on the outlet you can also make a pigtail. Im hoping you used the same type of wire that the rest of the house is wired with. If your using bx/romex you have to drill holes in the floor joists 2 1/2 inches up from the bottom or higher and run the cable through each joist to meet code.

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here. Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 2:26

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