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  • Writer's pictureNeil Perry

Double double tap tap...

Double tap wiring in electrical panels is a topic that holds significance within the realm of electrical systems and installations. It refers to a situation where two conductors are connected to a single circuit breaker or fuse terminal. This practice, while common in some residential setups, can lead to safety concerns and code violations. In this article, we will delve into the details of double tap wiring, exploring its implications, potential hazards, and the importance of adhering to electrical codes and standards.

I. What is Double Tap Wiring?

Double tap wiring occurs when two electrical conductors are connected to a single circuit breaker or fuse terminal. Typically, circuit breakers and fuse terminals are designed to accommodate a single conductor. When a second conductor is added to the same terminal, it creates a double tap situation. This practice is often seen in residential electrical panels, where homeowners or even some contractors may attempt to add new circuits without installing additional circuit breakers.

II. Hazards and Concerns:

  1. Overloading the Circuit: One of the primary concerns with double tap wiring is the potential for overloading the circuit. Circuit breakers are designed to protect the wiring and devices connected to the circuit from excessive current. When two conductors share a single breaker, it can lead to an overload situation, causing overheating and increasing the risk of fire.

  2. Loose Connections: Double tap wiring increases the likelihood of loose connections. If the conductors are not securely fastened to the terminal, it can result in arcing and overheating, posing a fire hazard. Loose connections can also lead to intermittent power issues and damage connected devices.

  3. Code Violations: Most electrical codes, including the National Electrical Code (NEC) in the United States, prohibit double tap wiring. Failure to comply with electrical codes can result in serious consequences, including fines and the requirement to rectify the issues to meet code standards.

III. National Electrical Code (NEC) Guidelines:

The NEC provides guidelines and standards for electrical installations to ensure safety and uniformity. Regarding double tap wiring, NEC 110.14 stipulates that terminals for more than one conductor must be identified for this purpose. Manufacturers provide information about whether their equipment is suitable for double lugging.

IV. Correcting Double Tap Wiring:

If double tap wiring is identified in an electrical panel, it is essential to rectify the situation promptly. Some possible solutions include:

  1. Install a Tandem Breaker: In cases where additional circuits are needed, tandem breakers, also known as duplex or twin breakers, can be used. These breakers are specifically designed to fit into a single slot and provide two separate circuits.

  2. Subpanel Installation: For situations where the existing panel is at full capacity, installing a subpanel can provide additional space for new circuits. This approach ensures that each circuit has its dedicated breaker and eliminates the need for double tap wiring.

  3. Consult a Licensed Electrician: When dealing with electrical issues, it is advisable to seek the expertise of a licensed electrician. A professional can assess the situation, ensure compliance with electrical codes, and implement the necessary corrections.


Double tap wiring poses significant risks to electrical systems and the safety of occupants. Understanding the hazards associated with this practice and adhering to electrical codes are crucial for maintaining a safe and reliable electrical installation. Whether you are a homeowner or a professional electrician, it is essential to prioritize electrical safety and take corrective actions when necessary. By following established guidelines and consulting with experts, we can create electrical systems that meet high standards of safety and functionality.

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