Pigtail splice in the main panel

Can you do this? Two conductors were pig-tailed together and inserted into one leg of a double-pole breaker. How is this different from double-tapping?

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If it was a single pole breaker, there would be no problem. However, the two-pole breaker should be dedicated for whatever appliance (most likely a dryer) it protects. There shouldn’t be a 120V circuit created from one leg of the two-pole.
If the condition was involving a single-pole breaker…Splicing the conductor isn’t considered double-tapping since the two conductors aren’t brought under the one lug. The problem is when the lug is not rated for two wires…possible arcing and overheating may occur. Since the two wires are pigtailed with one wire going under the lug, there isn’t an issue of a possible bad connection. The wires will still be protected properly by the OCPD. Basically it’s the same thing if the wires were spliced in a junction box down the run.


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Could be a heater and A/C which are never on together.
Double tapping is wrong because of possible sparking from a loose screw.

I notice they have the breaker in off position and also so corrosion going on at the lower conductor…

I have a related question, something I’ve wondered about for sometime.

If one is pigtailing wires (something I’ve done once or twice myself over the years) should the last length going to the breaker be upsized from what the other two pigtailed conductor wire sizes are?

Though I doubt it would ever happen (without the breaker tripping first) it would seem that the last run could almost act like a fusible link in certain situations unless it were larger.

At least that is what I’ve done. Overkill and unnecessary, huh?

Al in TN

There’s no need to increase the size of the pigtail connecting to the breaker as long as the conductor was properly sized to begin with. The breaker will still trip at it’s proper rating even though there are two separate conductors being run. Yes the amperage may differ going through each conductor, but the total combined will not go over the rating of the breaker.


Thanks Jeff, pretty much what I figured but wanted to hear it from someone else.

Still OK to do if it makes one feel better though, right? :wink:

Al in TN

I’ve never seen that kind of splice used in a panel. It looks like an automotive type clamp on tap. If this is an approved device could someone please provide some more info on it?

It’s a type of ‘Suitcase’ used to make splices without stripping. UL listed


Those connectors are often used in lighting fixtures. At least that’s where I usually come across them.


Yes, would much rather see a wire nut, but suitcases can do the job. They are primarily a lighting connector though.

Thanks - I have never seen one in use in the thousands of panels I’ve inspected. Now when I do, I won’t have to ask.

I know it’s an old post but kinda related to what I’m seeing. I’m looking at the wiring for a swimming pool heater in a HUD foreclosure. There is a 60amp breaker in the house main panel. It has two 12gauge wires pigtailed and run into one side of the breaker with a piece of 8 gauge wire and wire nut. Same on the second leg, two 12 gauge pigtailed with a piece of 8 gauge that runs in the breaker. All four of those wires and two neutrals are going down 1/2" conduit over a 50ft run. At the other end is a small subpanel with a 50Amp and a 20Amp breaker. 50amp for the heater, 20amp for a pool pump. The wires are pigtailed the same way here too. Pretty sure it’s not code but is it even safe?

On a side note it looks to me like it was originally set to be a 20amp with two legs and two 15amp breakers in the panel. The 20 had it’s own neutral and the 15s shared a neutral. All shared a ground. Seems like they converted three 110 circuits to a 240. I’ve seen it the other way(multi branch) but never like this.

Daniel do you have any photo’s?

I dont unfortunately. I’ll be back there on Friday. I can get pics then. I just wanted to be more educated on it before I talk to the owner.

Thank you

Daniel Rhem
Cell. 480-254-1152
Email. splashngrass@gmail.com
Website. www.splashngrass.com

Typically/usually done to extend a circuit. If so, no issue BUT you have to trace the circuit upstream to the termination.
If done as a separate circuit, then 2 circuits are protected by on side of the double pole breaker.

30 amp. Baseboard Heaters in the unit? Laundry room Reno with new dryer outlet?

Lighting circuits are typically 15 amp.

Not hard to trace circuits back to the origin. But is that considered SoP?

No. Circuit conductor size is determined by the breaker.

So they have taken a few #12 AWG conductors and paralleled them together to make a 60 amp feeder. As you have surmised this is completely wrong for several reasons. First and foremost parallel conductors cannot be smaller than #1/0. Secondly the ampacity of #12 AWG conductors is 20 amps so even though there are two connected in parallel their combined ampacity is only 40 amps and could easily be overloaded when protected by the 60 amp circuit breaker. Sounds like you’re correct that they have taken a few 120 volt circuits and dangerously converted them into a 240 volt feeder.

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