I had added a few power-hungry appliances to my RV, so I was wondering how to install a 30 amp breaker.
At first, I was scared of doing it alone because I might get electrocuted in the middle of the process. But I’ve realized that adding 30 amp breaker shouldn’t be intimidating, as long as you have the right tools and knowledge about electrical panel layout.
We’ve listed the necessary tools below, as well as the process on how to wire a 30 amp breaker properly.
What You’ll Need
1. 30-Amp Circuit Breaker
A 30-amp breaker is typically used on RVs to service some of the power-hungry devices, like a coffee maker and microwave. It’s installed to prevent the accidental overload of circuits, hence preventing serious electrical issues and controlling the electricity flow in the electrical line.
Make sure that your electrical panel lists the 30-amp breaker as one of the approved types of circuit breakers it allows to be installed. Differing from the list will cause some major problems. To be safe, choose a 30-amp breaker with the same manufacturer as the panel.
There are two types of breakers – single pole and double pole. The single-pole type only has one neutral and one hot wire, while the double-pole has one neutral wire and two hot wires.
You’ll be needing a screwdriver a lot in this job to loosen and tighten some screws. One of the tasks is when you need to remove the metal frame surrounding the breakers and put it back. The type of screwdriver depends on the head of the screws – flat, Torx, or Philips.
Since you’ll be dealing with electricity, it would be best to look for an insulated handle. The insulation keeps the electricity from transferring to your hand, potentially resulting in injuries.
The multimeter may come in handy when you need to ensure that the power is off on the panel. This is crucial since you can’t proceed to hook up a 30 amp breaker when the panel is still powered. Moreso, this tool will be used to test the new circuit breaker to determine whether it works or not.
There are two types of multimeter you can choose – analog and digital. We prefer the digital type because it offers a more accurate reading. While the analog design uses a needle scale, the digital one displays the numbers on the screen.
You’ll need a pair of pliers to remove the protective layer from the electrical wires. This tool exposes the wires to fit the new breaker into the panel’s connection terminals. To choose the right pliers, make sure they can handle the wire gauge of the 30-amp breaker.
If you can’t find some pliers around, you can use a cutting knife. Just let your finger do the stripping. Another convenient alternative is a pair of scissors.
5. Rubber-Soled Shoes
When installing a 30 amp breaker, you’ll need a good pair of rubber-soled shoes for safety. The rubber soles will prevent the current from flowing through your body, hence protecting you from being electrocuted when handling the circuit breaker.
If you can’t find any rubber-soled shoes, look for a rubber mat to serve as a perfect insulator from electricity. Go for pure-grade natural rubber as this material offers the best uncompromised shock-free value.
Once you have all the materials and tools above prepared, you can go ahead with the steps below.
Step 1: Put On Safety Shoes
Before you start the installation process, wear a pair of rubber-soled shoes or put a rubber mat on the floor to stand on it at all times. These accessories will keep you from experiencing any accidental electric shock. Don’t forget to wipe up any wet patches or water before you begin touching the electrical panel.
Step 2: Turn Off The Power And Remove The Cover
Now, find the terms “Main” or Service Disconnect” in the panel and turn it to the “Off” position. Most of the time, the main circuit breaker will be located either at the bottom or top of the panel, having the biggest amp value. Once done, you can grab a screwdriver and remove the screws to pull the metal frame away from the panel.
Step 3: Ensure That The Power Is Off
Get your multimeter and set it to “Volts AC” to test the electrical panel and see whether it’s truly off. Touch one prong to the neutral or ground bar and the other probe to the circuit breaker’s screw terminal. If it indicates 120 volts or more, the panel is still flowing with electricity, and you need to disconnect the power.
Step 4: Find A Spot For Your Circuit Breaker
The new 30-amp breaker should be positioned next to an existing circuit breaker. Make sure that the spot is aligned with the free space on the cover.
Some covers have knockout plates to fit in the new circuit breaker. If there’s no knockout plate to be removed, position the circuit breaker to a different spot on the panel.
Step 5: Position The Breaker
Before you fix the 30-amp breaker securely, set the breaker handle to the OFF position for safety. Tilt the breaker until the hold-on clip attaches to the plastic bar and rotates towards the center. Make sure that the slot on the breaker case is still aligned with the panel’s bus bar.
Next, press firmly until the breaker snaps into place.
Step 6: Wiring A 30 Amp Breaker
Get your pair of pliers and strip about ½ inch of insulation from the hot wire and the neutral wire. Refer to the breaker’s label to find where to insert the hot and neutral wires for accuracy.
Loosen the screws over the connection terminal with a screwdriver, then insert the wires into the correct terminal locations. There’s no need to bend the wire ends, simply insert them straight into the connection terminal. Once done, tighten the screws until they hold the wires snugly.
Here’s a video reference on how to wire a double-pole breaker.
Step 7: Finish And Test It Up
Clean the panel of any foreign objects to avoid causing a short circuit. Then, re-screw the cover or metal frame back on the panel. Now, stand on the side and turn the power back on the main breaker.
Finally, test the new 30-amp breaker. Apply the multimeter to the 30-amp breaker to check whether the electricity is flowing through it correctly.
We hope you learned a lot about how to install a 30 amp breaker safely. Of course, you need to take some safety precautions, like wearing rubber-sole shoes, turning the power off before installing the breaker, and standing on the side when turning it back on. The type of 30-amp breaker depends on your choice, whether it’s single-pole or double-pole.
Let us know your thoughts on this tutorial in the comment section below. Kindly share this article with your friends if you like it.
Welcome to a new journey! I am Rober Clark, also a full-time RV-er and currently exploring the US with Dane. I have four years of working as a contractor, so building a home inside the RV is an extremely rewarding task for me. I find new challenges and new limits to break every day.