Where did the wires go?

Three breakers tied together 30 amp breaker. Panel label says water heater and boiler. The center wires must go to the the off peak water heater. There is a separate disconnect at the water heater. Are they tied to the buss bar? Why would the propane boiler be tied to a 30 amp 3 pole breaker? Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

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Hi Gerald,

Couple of questions:

Is the panel totally full, meaning no empty breaker slots?

Are the appliances two totally separate devices in the same location?

It is quite possible that the installer was trying this concept:

Use three breaker to supply 220V on a different side of the (sine wave) to handle two appliances without using two individual double pole breakers (4 slots)
Common connection would the the “double tapped Center breaker” BUT the concept is goofy… wrong anyway in my opinion…

Question did he bring the 3 wires in to the panel by a conduit ?

Very wrong.



Is that a commercial inspection?

Three breakers tied usually are for 3 phase.

From the picture and the label on the center breaker it appears to be a special purpose 3 pole breaker - likely designed for the service. I’m guessing the two wires are properly terminated behind the center pole. Surely some expert has seen this before.

Frank, I agree…the wiring diagram tends to show an unusual configuration. I have to go by an electrical parts supply house this afternoon and will stop in to see if they can determine what this is. Maybe Paul A will chime in before that though.

OK, I was able to discuss this with two different electrical supply houses and got a couple of opinions. First, we have to assume this was a single phase residential panel. If it is a 3 phase panel then the following ideas are moot.

One supplier, who said he had been in the breaker business 40 years and seemed knowledgeable, assured me what we were looking at was what was referred to as a “delta breaker” which was used to start 3 phase equipment from a single phase source. He said once it was running then it didn’t matter (I didn’t know that but I’ll take his word for it). He said those ITE Siemens delta breakers were over 30 years old, no longer UL approved nor were replacements available. So, if the equipment that this breaker was supplying was a 3 phase compressor or something similar then this idea may be accurate.

The other electrical supplier shrugged and said maybe, just maybe it was a Shunt Trip breaker. Remember, a shunt trip breaker can be remotely tripped via a wired signal for safety or maintenance requirements. They are normally seen in commercial applications. There were some indications that this might be a shunt trip breaker but, if so, then the configuration seemed to indicate it was a 110v shunt trip which they had not heard of.

I tend to lean toward the first explanation but I’ve still get feelers out to a couple of other knowledgable electrical contacts to see what they say.

Thanks for all the imput guys. I will try to answer some of the questions. 1) Yes, it is a residential 200 amp service. 2)The panel was not totally full, there is room to add circuit breakers.3) They are two completely different devices located in opposite ends of the basement.4) All romex wiring.
The panel has an 1988 state inspection label, and the wiring from the three pole breaker in question feeds the water heater only. I see they have moved the boiler to a 15 amp breaker. Are the top and bottom circuits of the 3 pole breaker drawing off the same leg from the SEC? Or does the middle breaker split the leg and give you two 30 amp 240 v circuits? There is an abandoned water heater still hooked up to power but the disconnect is off.

That’s not a delta breaker. A delta breaker was used years ago in split bus panels to protect a three phase load from three phase supply when a standard single phase panel is used. (120/240 delta)

That breaker is a special type, but the little sticker on the face tells it all. A normal breaker plugs onto the bus bars and is fed that way. This breaker is fed seperately, not from the bus bars, rather the black and red wires in the center. These wires should come into the panel from outside through the same conduit as the other service wires where they are probably connected to a off peak load controller and separate kilowatt hour meter for the hot water heater.

Thanks Justin…understanding that the red/black center wires are inputs rather than outputs makes much more sense. I’ll have to go back to those two supply houses and clue them in.

So the configuration looks something like this then?

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Thanks Justin, That sounds exactly correct, as there is an offpeak meter controlling the water heater.

Thanks for that Justin!

This reminds me of a previous inspection where an off peak load controller circuit for the water heater simply bypassed the service panel…

Right. I think they called it a “water heater breaker.” If that rings a bell to anyone.

Its always interesting to see all the different ways that the off peak setups were wired.:stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks Justin!!

So what’s the deal with this on? The breaker is fed from a separate meter.

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For whatever reason they’re switching the neutral too.

A separate meter would indicate a separate service, in which case, this would be a service-disconnect.

If so, the neutral should not be on a switch or breaker, it should be bonded to the enclosure. In fact, there aren’t any conditions that I can think of where a switched neutral would be acceptable.

A little off base but I can’t help myself. How about gas pumps?

A generator perhaps.