Electrical tape balls?

Has anyone seen this? There are two awg10 wires coming from the 20amp double breaker to these tape balls where two, what seem to be larger gauge wires, no number written on sheathing, are spliced I guess. The circuit is labeled as oven(which is all electric). This is brand new construction. Anyone know if it’s ok to have awg 10 with a 20amp(double terminal but not two 20amp breakers bonded)? What about the splice? and the use of en=ven larger gauge from there? Any help with this is appreciated.



Is the 20 amp breaker an AFCI? Hard to tell from the picture.

:stuck_out_tongue: I haven’t read the NEC but I’m pretty sure there is no section about splices being in base-ball sized balls of tape in lieu of a junction box. If they’re in the panel though - who knows? :stuck_out_tongue:
Seems like a licensed electrician can make that call.

This isn’t an arc fault circuit breaker.

I asked about AFCI because the second breaker from the bottom seems to have a test button.

I was just havin’ a laugh about the tape balls - further evaluation and repair by a licensed electrician is in order.

From what I can gather from SquareD webpage is that this is a two pole 20 amp breaker (QO220VH). Their specs say for copper wire #14-10 is allowed. So the pigtail being #10 is fine. But the conductor running from the splice to the outlet appears to be a larger gauge(no exposed wire, just size with sheathing is larger). So not rated for this circuit breaker. I’ll defer it to an electrician of course, but wanted to learn something and be able to better explain to my client if asked.


IF the breaker is a 20A 2-pole and the conductor going into it is 10 AWG then that is fine as the breaker will limit the conductor to 20A and it is rated for 30A…NOW…I can only speculate that the tape balls are split bolts possibly changing over the 10 AWG to the larger conductor which may have been done for voltage drop reasons…who knows but I will say this…if it is labeled OVEN then it makes me wonder if it is labeled properly.

Remember you can always put larger conductors on a smaller breaker as long as it is allowed by the size allowances of the breaker…all will give a range that can be connected to the breaker…if the amount of current is excessive even with the larger conductors it will still trip the OCPD in the event of a sustained overcurrent situation.

So…unless you dig more which is probably outside the scope of your inspection…a 10 AWG can indeed be on a 20A breaker…and splicing like this is allowed within the enclosure as long as it meets the cross section allowances and it does…The only problem I might investigate is the oven and it’s draw…because if this is new construction and we are talking about a 40A minimum oven…then you will have a breaker trip issue down the road the consumer might want to know about…

If we are talking about a simple single oven unit ( no cooktop ) then quite possibly the 20A 240V breaker is fine and they just oversized the conductors which is fine as well as long as the breaker is sized properly.

ok. Here is what I do know.
The oven is rated at 20amps. So it sounds like that is fine with the size breaker and awg 10 and the over size conductor running to it.
IF the larger conductor is aliuminum(which I don’t know)
and the awg 10 is copper(I do know), are there specific connectors needed to bond these two different material conductors at the splice?
Do you suppose they made this pigtail of the awg 10 to fit it under the terminals at the circuit breaker or for voltage drop? (I know this is speculative)


read my post…

I just re-read what you wrote and would like to know if the circuit breaker is rated for use with size #14-10 conductor and the larger conductor running from the splice with the #10 to the oven is #8, then this is not in compliance with the size requirements of the breaker of #14-10? right?
If the #8 conductor is larger than rated for the breaker, what are the implications and possible safety issues?


The size requirement pertains to termination. The terminal is sized to fix a specific CM of the conductor being used. It is routine for larger conductors to be spliced onto smaller conductors in regards to voltage drop as long as the other considerations are taking into effect like increaseing the size of the EGC as well…which is probably taken care of with the use of the larger wire itself in a cable wiring method.

The larger wire simply has more capacity ( ie: less impedance ) but the OCPD ( ie: breaker ) wont care as it will trip if the continuous load exceeds the rating of the breaker ( ie: overcurrent ) …so the breaker should protect the conductor regardless as that is is purpose really…Hope this helps…

Thanks for the help. Any specific connectors for different material conductor splices(copper to aluminum)?

Ahh…well hard to tell unless you untape the balls ( not sure I like how I said that …lol…) but some split bolts are AL/CU and some are not…We happen to use tap blocks that are insulated on their own for this and no need to wrap them in tape…maybe they are hiding something…who knows but unless you can prove it I would not worry much about that part.

Thanks again. I still referred it to an electrician for further investigation in the report beacause of the balls. It almost felt like they were rubber balls taped over with electrical tape. They were very symetrical.
anyway, thanks again for sharing your knowledge.


no problem…you can NEVER go wrong by defering…better to be safe than sorry.

On a side not…those are some mighty ROUND balls…would take a freakin entire roll of tape to make those with a split bolt…

I would not be able to resist the temtation to CUT ONE OPEN to see whats inside…maybe they used a ping pong ball, yeah ping pong balls are not UL Listed…lol

Depending on the size of the larger wires, this could be correct (if spliced properly):

“Breakers usually accommodate one or two wire size larger than the size normally associated with the breaker. If too large a wire is used, sometimes a few stands of the conductor will be turned back instead of going into the breaker. Wires cannot be used in this manner. If an over-sized connector is for some reason actually necessary, and it is beyond the range of wire accepted by the breaker, it should be spliced inside the panel rather than cutting its strands at the breaker.”

  • Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings by Hansen, Kardon & Casey 3rd edition,

I, too, would love to know what’s inside those ‘balls’ and would probably have to investigate as mentioned above. It is hard for me to imagine (even with a large split bolt connector), anyone being able to produce something that round without some sort of filler material. If the electrician has industrial experience he may have used some filler material of the type that is used to make hand-taped, higher voltage splices.

As to the ‘safety’ of the installation, it looks like there is ample capacity for any parts of the conductors involved; I would likely shoot the balls with an IR temperature gun. If not hot as compared to the rest of the panel, I would likely judge it to be A-O-K :mrgreen:

They’re probably split bolts wrapped in mastic, then taped.

You know Paul, you might be right there. If untaped in a haphazard manner, you might come up with…

wait for it…

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong. I like a panel with some cahones.

I am guessing that the electrician ran the larger wires for a typical size oven, and then the owner decided to install some fancy environmentally friendly low power unit. There may be a similar splice at the other end of the large wires.

I agree that it is likely to have something on the other end as well. However, given that space may be very limited there I would surely try to see what that end looked like. Could be anything from ‘elegant’ to a real mess.