What do I do With the fourth wire?


Hi, I’ve been googling this one, and haven’t been satisfied with the answers. Maybe you can give me a definitive one. I have a three-wire dryer outlet running to a 30 amp breaker (240v)…so: two hots, a neutral and the ground. I want to remove the dryer outlet and install a standard-looking single- or double-outlet recepticle (three prong, but two are oriented horizontally which is 240v).  The 15-20a outlets I’ve been seeing seem to only have two screws in addition to the ground. I’ve read that I can mark the neutral with black tape and run it to one of the screws, then cap the unused hot. I want to be sure: will capping one of the hots, running the other hot and neutral to the screws still provide me 240v power? Is this the safe way to do this? I’m competent enough to do the wiring at the recepticle, but I’d rather not have to go into the panel and disconnect the extra wire at the breaker. Thanks for any answers.

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redrob68 3 years 6 Answers 991 views

Answers ( 6 )

  1. Well no. If it’s connected to the breaker then it’s hot. You’ll take what ever two wires are connected at the breaker to the outlet for 220 volts.

  2. Yes that’s what I’m saying. If you watch my 220 20 amp outlet video you’ll see we don’t use a neutral.

    How to install a 220 volt outlet

  3. See the neutral is a return path. In your setup / outlet you’re not using one. You’re using two hots and a ground. Or you could substitute the neutral for the ground. Either way really. Assuming you do have two other hots. Like a black and a red ?

  4. Thanks for the response. Then what do I do with the neutral wire? I thought there might be a way to wire 220 (240) receptacle to a four wire romex going to the circuit. I thought there was a work-around which I’ve read others had done. I didn’t want to attempt it myself until I heard from experts if it was do-able. Do I have to have a four wire (OK four wire: some electricians seem to count the ground others just assume it’s counted.. (ie. two hots, a neutral + the ground)…) receptacle if I’m running  two hots, a neutral and the ground…from the main lug?

  5. Hi, I’m a little confused. But first, if you’re looking to have 220 volts you’ll going to need both hots.

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