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Simple install of a new 220v outlet?
February 21, 2006 11:16 AM   Subscribe

I have a electric (220v) dryer, but my new house is set up for gas, and the outlet is only 110v. I think that I have a situation where it would be relatively easy for me to install a new 220v outlet next to the current one without having to involve a professional. Does the scenario (inside) appear workable for the average diy'er?

The laundry room wall with the dryer outlet is directly behind a sub-panel on the garage wall. This sub-panel has three open double wide slots. I'd like to buy a 30a dual-pin breaker, a short run of 10gauge wire, and a 30a 220v outlet box, and just put the new outlet on the other side of the stud with the 110. Since I'd be working on the sub-panel, its my understanding that I'd be perfectly safe doing this so long as the main power is turned off at the master panel. Is this correct?

I've never done this kind of work before, but I'm pretty confident so long as I know it's safe, and I know how it is supposed to be done.

Anyone with similar experience want to weigh in on this? It would cost me about $150 to have an electrician come out and do the same job... is it even sufficiently cost effictive to do it myself?
posted by trivirgata to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
 
Would you be unhappy if you burnt your house down? That's the $150 question.
posted by mad judge pickles at 11:30 AM on February 21, 2006


I am pretty handy with wiring and have installed ceiling fans, light fixtures, and such, but I would not hesitate to pay 150 dollars for someone to run 220 volts from the breaker panel. That sounds like a bargain (especially if it includes parts) and will ensure that your wiring is safe and up to code.
posted by TedW at 11:34 AM on February 21, 2006


Pay the $150. Like tedw, I am passably competent at 110v stuff. . .but for 220 I would pay to have it done right and have the piece of mind.

And, where do you live that you can get a licensed sparky to come out and do it that cheap?
posted by Danf at 11:43 AM on February 21, 2006


So you want to do electrical work that you've never done before, right next to a gas line. Gee, Davey, I dunno if that's such a good idea.

I think that only way that you could summon Murphy to you any faster would be if you shouted "Hey, y'all! Watch this!" right before you set to work.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on February 21, 2006


I'll Nth the get a professional opinion. there are alot of variables that you might not have the knowledge to take into account. for example, does the main panel have enough capacity to add another circuit this large and if so, is the sub-panel wired properly to add such a load? the $150 sounds a little low, but if everyhting is in place to simply add a breaker to the sub panel i could see it. either way, this probably isn't something worth having your homeowners insurance policy voided over should the worst happen.
posted by skatz at 11:53 AM on February 21, 2006


Please keep in mind that 220V is much more inclined to kill you than 110V.
posted by signal at 12:03 PM on February 21, 2006


Sell your dryer on craigslist and buy a gas one. It will be cheaper to run, and you won't have to do any wiring.
posted by aubilenon at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2006


I disagree with the other posters. I've done just this and I'm not an electrician. A basic understanding of home wiring is all that's required. I'm assuming you live in the US.

From the powerlines your house is provided two wires, each carrying 120v and 180 degrees out of phase to each other. Add them together and you get 240v. You are also provided a neutral line that is grounded every so often and grounded at your house.

A standard 120v outlet is supplied by one of the two rails from the power company. A 240v outlet is supplied by both of the two rails. That's all there is to it unless your dryer plug is a four prong. In that case you will have 2-120v lines, one ground, and one neutral. It's a bit redundant having ground and neutral since they are wired together in your breaker box. Nevertheless, it's straightforward. I would recommend highly a well-grounded metal conduit through which the wires should run.
posted by kc0dxh at 12:14 PM on February 21, 2006


This is doable, talk to your local building electrical inspector. They have to approve and inspect your work.

To minimise down time wire up your box and outlet and string your wire to your panel making sure it is anchored with staples/holes as required. Make appointment for inspection. Then on the day of your appointment turn off you main breaker. String your wire into your breaker panel and connect it to your breaker. Install breaker. Leave the power off until the inspector makes sure you don't have one of the hot legs to ground or something. Once it has been signed off on you can flip the main switch, the dryer breaker and then plug the dryer in.

I could do the breaker panel bit in less than 20 minutes from ding dong to writing the bill, for your first time I'd allocate a least a couple hours. Try to get an afternoon appointment that way you'll have all morning to work on it.
posted by Mitheral at 12:18 PM on February 21, 2006


If you're reasonably competent with electrical wiring, actually configuring and wiring a 220v outlet is a no-brainer.

But $150, if that includes the necessary parts, is a killer deal, and would save you the TIME. Unless you already have extra conduit, fish tape, wire lube, wire nuts, wire, conduit bender, etc., etc., it's probably more cost effective to let someone else do it.

What's your free time worth? An electrician could be in and out in about 1/3 the time it might take you.
posted by Merdryn at 12:19 PM on February 21, 2006


The pro is on the way...

I try to pick up a new skill when the opportunity arises, but it seems clear from the opinions voiced here (and elsewhere) that 220v electrical work is beyond my comfort level. You never know until you ask though.

I appreciate the advice.
posted by trivirgata at 12:20 PM on February 21, 2006


kc0dxh writes "A standard 120v outlet is supplied by one of the two rails from the power company. A 240v outlet is supplied by both of the two rails. That's all there is to it unless your dryer plug is a four prong. In that case you will have 2-120v lines, one ground, and one neutral. It's a bit redundant having ground and neutral since they are wired together in your breaker box. Nevertheless, it's straightforward. I would recommend highly a well-grounded metal conduit through which the wires should run."

A non commercial dryer is going to have a four prong plug. I'd advise you get one of the 1-2-3 electrical for dummies kind of books from the big box you're getting the parts from if you don't already know how to wire a box, what wire goes where, or how to secure a heavy guage cable like the one running between the breaker box and plug.

Do not get in the habit of thinking neutral=ground. They are not the same, can not be thought of as the same, and both are required for an electric dryer. Don't let the fact that your main's wiring ties the two together confuse you.
posted by Mitheral at 12:24 PM on February 21, 2006


Agreed, Mitheral. The potential between the two may not be the same.
posted by kc0dxh at 12:35 PM on February 21, 2006


Not that you want to get in his (or her, of course) way, but you might be able to watch the pro work. My electrician is really cool about explaining what's going on as he works, and it's enabled me to try my hand at some electrical work myself.

Regarding Mitheral's last post, I just worked with a four-prong dryer plug yesterday. The white went to the bottom prong, red and black went to the side prongs (didn't matter which went where), and the ground went to the top prong. YMMV, as always, so I'll second his suggestion to get the book.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:20 PM on February 21, 2006


A non commercial dryer is going to have a four prong plug.

I think it's the opposite, I've never seen a 4 prong dryer plug, but maybe it's a new thing. Watch the guy put in the breaker and you won't believe how easy it is. I've even done it without turning off the main (wiring up the new breaker, then pushing it on the bars), but I don't recomend it (this was a factory setting, where we didn't want to shut down the whole shop while we hooked up a new machine).
posted by 445supermag at 4:43 PM on February 21, 2006


I am a degreed electrical engineer, with a hard-won state license to practice professionally. I do most of my own house wiring, with extremely close attention paid to safety and quality (durability) of work. But I never mess with 220 volt. Hire the electrician.

It's like the old gambling rule: bet what you're willing to lose. In this case you are betting your life, no kidding.
posted by intermod at 7:59 PM on February 21, 2006


445supermag writes "I've never seen a 4 prong dryer plug, but maybe it's a new thing."

Things may be different in the states; all electric dryers in Canada since they stopped wiring them direct have had four prongs: two hot legs, a neutral and the ground. Commercial stuff sometimes has three prongs if the unit is running a 230V motor. The only way residential dryers could get away with only three prongs is if they didn't ground them.

Electric ranges also will have four prong plugs. The neutral is needed for the light bulbs, surface outlets and usually the clock.
posted by Mitheral at 8:39 PM on February 21, 2006


What aubilenon said. But you chose to spend on the electrician, instead. Pity. Gas is much more efficient.
posted by Goofyy at 12:56 AM on February 22, 2006


So what is the extra danger from 220v single phase? Its only 220v between the phases, any one wire is only 110V. I guess you could grab one hot in each hand, but you'd almost have to be doing it on purpose.
I guess this 4 wire 220v is a new fad, our lab is moving to a new building and all the 220v outlets are 4 prong twist-locks. The building manager has a bought a whole case of 4 prong plugs to convert everybody's stuff, but the cords only have 3 wires, so what's the point?
posted by 445supermag at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2006


Go with the gas. Faster drying, more efficient, no wiring hassles. In the long run you'll save money too.
posted by thayerg at 3:20 PM on February 22, 2006


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