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Gary, Handyman
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 246
Experience:  26 yrs in home repair/building - 15 yr in live theatre set design/building
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How do I convert a 220 volt circuit to 110 volt. We

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How do I convert a 220 volt circuit to 110 volt. We are converting to a gas cooktop from electric in our kitchen island, and I need a dedicated 110 volt to operate a new downdraft unit. We won't need the 220 volt feed used by our electric cooktop -- is it as easy as changing out the 220 circuit breaker to two 20 amp breakers?

Or, is it sufficient to just install a step-down voltage converter to be placed at the junction box in the kitchen island?

Mike in Bellevue

Hi Mike;

How many 220 wires do you have?

Do you have a fuse box or a circuit breaker box?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Gary's Post: Yes, we have a circuit breaker box -- actually three 220-volt circuits: furnace, dryer, and electric cooktop.

The cooktop circuit at the breaker box has two thick black insulated wires coming out of it -- as compared to the smaller single gauge black and red wires attached to our other 110 circuits.

At the kitchen island junction box, the thick wires are spliced in to connect to the cook top wiring. The thick black wire appears to be a large gauge wire or multiple strand wire to which a single smaller gauge wire is spliced in at that point.


Thank you for the information. In a 220 circuit there should be a minium of 3 wires for the older homes, and 4 for newer homes.

By the sound of what you have, you described 2 of your wires, now as for the 3rd is it bare strand wire or is it insulated?

2nd, is the wire size you have now the size of a pencil? (Aprox size) Furthermore, in relations to your stove, how hard would it be to run new 110 wire from the pannel box to your cook stove?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Gary's Post: Our home is 20 years old -- don't know whether you consider that newer or older.

The thick black wires coming out of the 220 breaker are about the thickness of a pencil.

Behind the breakers is a strip/bar with screws where other wires (whit and uninsualted copper)are attached -- I assume to be neutral and/or ground wires for the 110 circuits.

Also connected on that same bar closest to the 220 breaker is a pencil thick multi-strand (aluminum in appearance) wire, greyish covering in color. It is attached to the "grounding" bar at the top end where the 220 circuit is located.

I have thought about trying to run romex to create a new circuit, but it would be very difficult. I've been told by our kitchen remodel project manager that I could change out the circuit breaker, but he confessed he was not an electrician.


Ok, What you want can be done, but you may want to check your local electrical code to see if: 1 you can do the wiring, and 2, see if it's legal. Sometimes in visiting with an electrician can tell you, or even better you can hire one.

You need to remove the 220 breaker from the panel. Take off both wires. Depending on what size 110 wire size your stove requires you'll need to install a 15 amp for 14/2 wire and 20 amp for 12/2. Again check your code for proper wire sizing to breakers. Now you can take one of the wires you removed from the 220 breaker and attached it to the single pole 110 breaker. The other wire put a wire-nut on it, tape it on and mark it as abandoned, and where/what it is. That wire can be left sitting againt the inside of the panel box. Now the trick is you'll need to find the other end of the wire. If the wires are exposed where the stove is, and are separated from one another as to not touch each other or to ground, then turn on your breaker, and with a meter test the black wires with one meter line on the neutral. It it lights, or moves the meter it's hot. Turn off the breaker, and resume back to the stove. The wire not being used, wire-nut it, and tape & mark it as such. Now you can tie into the stove with the required 110 wiring for your stove. Tie the black to black, White to white (neutral) and green-bare wire to ground. As for the electrical box where you tied in the wiring, you'll need to put a cover plate on it so your new wire will have to come from the side of the box (if possible) or the cover plate will have to have a hole in the middle for a box connector.

Any thing else, let me know. Again check with you local electrical laws. If your state allows you to do the job yourself, remember that the bar behind the breakers are "live" and do treat electricity with respect.

Gary, Handyman
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 246
Experience: 26 yrs in home repair/building - 15 yr in live theatre set design/building
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Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
Gary -- I need a quick follow-up. It sounds like I can be safer by turning off the main at the circuit breaker box.

Also, it seems I can make two 110 outlets by putting in two 110 circuit breakers in and connecting each wire to an outlet at the kitchen island junction box.


The other expert will get back with you he left a few things out

You need to use all 3 wires you have for a safe circuit hot netural and ground

Hi There,

Yes it is always safer by turning of the main breakers. Just remember that you will need to reset everything once the power is turned back on.

As for the other question, I was under the understanding you have four (4) wires, instead of three (3). If you have four wires, then what I stated earlier is fine, but if you have three wires, you'll need to take that third wire and use it as a netural so you would have as Glen stated Hot, Netural, and Ground.

Please let me know how it works.