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Converting 220 to 110, Installing a Heater, Exhaust Fan and Light Combination and more

April 28, 2010

Question George Mayer asks:
I did away with a hot tub but would like to use the existing wiring. It was 220 and my current need is to convert it to 110. Can that be done easily?

Answer:
Yes. If your hot tub had a disconnect, then replace the 2 pole GFCI breaker with a single pole breaker and a breaker filler to fill the empty space. In a residential application 240 volts is achieved using a double pole circuit breaker and you get 120 volts using a single pole breaker.

The wiring for 120 volts is 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground wire. However, 240 volts could be 2 hot wires and 1 ground or 2 hot wires, 1 neutral and 1 ground. Your hot tub wiring should be 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground. Essentially, you are converting your hot tub disconnect to a sub-panel and only using 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground.

All outside receptacles are required to be GFCI protected. I recommend using a GFCI receptacle instead of a GFCI breaker for 120 volt wiring because the receptacle is approximately $15.00 and the breaker is approximately $45.00.

 

Debbie Harris asks:
I have purchased a combination heater/exhaust/light fixture and the three way switch to replace a light with a single switch in my bathroom . How do I run the wire to operate these independently? I have done some diy electrical work before.

Answer:
The manufacturer should have provided you with instructions for these items. In the instructions there should be a wiring diagram. I really need to see this wiring diagram to give you exact instructions for your application. You could either fax it to me or email me the manufacturer and catalog number of the switch and fan combo unit. My fax number and a way to email me can be found on the “Contact Me” link above.

You should be able to do this with a 3 conductor and a 2 conductor NM cable (romex) with ground if the power supply is in the switch box. If the power supply is at the heater/exhaust fan/light, then you should be able to do this with 2 – 2 conductor NM cables with ground. However, you should confirm the second configuration with the switch requirements. If the switch needs a neutral then you will need to use the same amount of wires as was required if the power supply originated in the switch box.

 

Gail Kugel asks:
Is it okay to change a hard wired chandelier to a plug-in chandelier by attaching a two-prong plug to the wire?

Answer:
The chandelier should have a ground wire as well; which would require a 3-prong plug. Other than that, it is OK to convert the chandelier to a plug-in type instead of being hardwired.

 

Viola asks:
Can you simple explain how to convert baseboard heat thermostat from single to double pole? Also if I replace the baseboard itself, is there anything special I have to do… or should it be easier than the thermostat?

Answer:
I’m going to assume that you have 2 – 2 conductor NM cables with a ground in the thermostat box. One cable is power in or the line side and the other cable is power out to the heater or the load side. The simplest way to determine this is, with the power off, set your meter to continuity and check between the black and white wire in each cable. The one with continuity is the load side; providing that the heater is hooked up and working. Connect the load wires to the load side of the t-stat and the line wires to the line side of the t-stat.

The heater should be straight forward if you are replacing an existing one. If you elect to go with the Cadet SoftHeat unit, then you may have a problem if your existing wiring is on the right side of the heater. Standard electric baseboard heaters can be wired from either end and made to work. However, the Cadet SoftHeat unit can only be wired on the left side of the unit.

 

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