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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8444
Experience:  Retired electrical contractor, 51 years experience.
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Is it possible to create a 220 volt outlet from two 110 volt

Customer Question

Is it possible to create a 220 volt outlet from two 110 volt outlets.

I am renting a house while my house is being built. I have a fairly good knowledge of electricity and have installed mutiple 220volt appliances without issue at my old house (hot tub, stove etc..). In my old house I had an air compressor running off 220 volts and a 15 amp breaker (installed it myself). At the rental I am looking to connect the air compressor temporarily. I went to home depot, purchased a 15 amp breaker and a small breaker box to put it in along with the proper 220 volt outlet, I connected 2 old 110 volt plugs to this at the incoming power, ran 1 extension cord to the bathroom (house breaker #7) and the other to the laundry room (breaker #3). I set the 15 amp breaker and BAM!!! NO compressed air (no sparks either). I checked air compressor with a voltage detector and it had voltage all the way to the compressor heads, just would not start. What am I missing here? i don;t understand why 110 volts from the laundry room, plus 110volts from the bathroom does not equal 220 volts at my air compressor. To double check i was not crazy I ran 20 foot of 12 gauge wire to the breaker box, connected it to the 10 amp air conditioner breaker and the compressor worked fine. Yes I can run this wire anytime I want to run the comprssor, but i guess at this time I am confussed that my homemade breaker box will not work
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Phil replied 5 years ago.
All work must be permitted and inspected. WE KEEP GOING UNTIL YOU HAVE THE INFORMATION YOU NEED. I must come and go. This is step One.


What you are trying to do of course is not legal so I can't advise you how to hook it up.

But I can tell you why the two 110v feeds to not add up to 220 volts.

thats because... at the breaker panel there is a Line 1 bus bar... and a Line 2 bus bar.. each line will read 110v to the neutral...thats how the 110v circuits are wired.

If each of the two 110v receptacles were wired to the *same line 1 or line 2 bus.. there is no voltage potential *between them... so you will not get a 220v read or power.

IF one of the 110volt breakers were clipped to the Line 1 bus... and other clipped to the Line 2 bus... then you would get 220v between them

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok. So if instead of using breakers 3 and 7 (both left side), and insted I used 3 and 4 (one right one left) then will I get what I want
Expert:  Phil replied 5 years ago.
Generally yes, but you would need to insure that you are actually tapping line 1 with one breaker and line 2 with the other...some panels allow you to get either line one or line two from the same side of the panel... it depends on how its arranged... and of course its not safe nor legal of course to create such a lash up.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

ok, so instead of running one cord to the laundry the other to the bathroom, I make sure i have each a right and left buss, and run 1 to the laundry and the other to the kitchen.


but that leads to the question of why does my air conditioner (and dryer, and stove etc...) all come off the same buss?


at this point it is about comprehension and figuring out why I am wrong (i hate being wrong, who doesn't?). I will assure you I will not try this when i get home tonight, my wife will kill me and if i burn off my hands I my life as a dentist is over



Expert:  Phil replied 5 years ago.
Hello again, all of your 220v appliances use one leg from line 1 and the other leg from line two...and the two pole breaker attached on just one side of the panel, picks up line 1 on one of the poles, and line 2 on the other pole

it is not the side of the panel the breakers are on, but which bus tab they connect to, the tabs alternate down each side of the panel.

if you are renting, doing any electrical work at all on the property without the owners permission could end badly, if there is a fire and any neighbors such as in an apartment building, many lives could be in danger by your attempts here.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

sorry if i am not following you, but if i were to use 2 adjacent breakers, say in positions 3 and 5 then would my system work?


trust me, at this point I will not be connecting my homemade breaker

Expert:  Phil replied 5 years ago.
Generally yes... the line one and line two bus bar connections alternate down each side of the panel as the rule.

A volt meter is used to verify the reads between lines, and from each line to neutral.