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Wiring a 4 prong dryer outlet

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I too had to buy new appliances (Maytag Neptune front loading). I have a 220 volt three prong outlet, but the salesman sold me a new 4 prong cord for the dryer and recommended that I convert.

My outlet box has three wires - black, white, and bare copper.

So how do I make four connections with only three wires? I believe that my white and black wires are "line" level wires and should be connected to either the left or right terminals. The other two require a neutral and a ground, and I'm guessing that both these connections are the same and I connect my bare copper wire to both.

Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
post #2 of 16
When in doubt, I'd check and see if ya cant chage the four prong wire from the unit to a three prong.
That would be an easy fix.
Or is it a phase thing with the motor as well.
Check yer papers.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
The dryer can be wired either way, but I've already invested the money in the new 4 prong wire and outlet. Therefore, I'm trying to avoid a return to Home Depot and the appliance store. Besides, new code states that it should be a 4 prong outlet. Either way, I'll get it running when I get home this evening.
post #4 of 16
post #5 of 16
Um......unless it is something REALLY new, I have never in my life seen a 4-prong 220V single phase outlet and plug.....

4 prong outlets and plugs are for 3-phase applications........

But I'm not an electrician, per se, and as I said, unless it is REALLY new.......
post #6 of 16
What new code?

I'd make the return to HD and the appliance store and stick with what you had.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
OK, this is what I found out by talking to an electrician. For all new 220 dryer outlet installations, you need to have a 4 prong outlet. The salesperson at the appliance store told me that I must have a 4 prong outlet for my existing installation. He was wrong, and was just trying to upsell me everything from an extended warranty to a lifetime supply of liquid detergent The thing is, I already bought the new outlet box at HD and the 4 prong wire from the appliance salesman, and the installers today hooked it up to the machine as 4 wires (it comes wired for 3 from the factory) and need to get this thing up and running ASAP (2 yr old twins have mucho laundry). The electrician said that I can jump my ground wire to the nuetral connection on the outlet, even thought this is technically no kosher but it will make the thing run. This weekend, when I have some time I will pay a visit to the appliance store and choke the salesman with his 4 prong wire and then on the way home stop at HD and buy what I need to put it all back to a 3 prong plug and outlet.
post #8 of 16
post #9 of 16
Sorry to bump this thread, but I've got a similar yet different problem. I just recently bought a used washer from a friend which is a 4 prong washer. She has a new one (3 prong) but lives in an old house she just bought with a 4 prong outlet. I've got a standard 3 prong outlet. Today we traded cords, but neither one of us is sure how to properly install our cords to our washers.

My washer was designed for a 4 prong cord. It has 4 places to screw the four lines into the back, although one is off to the side and appears to be different.

Her washer apparently had some kind of grounded line separate from the 3 lines from the 3 prong cord.

If someone could help us out and tell us how to install our power cords to our washers I'd appreciate it.
post #10 of 16
If you have your old cord from your other dryer take it off and put it on your new one. All new dryers can be set up for both 3 and 4 prong plugs that I have seen. Check in your manual sometimes it shows the hookup. or Check under the cover plate where the plug cord hooks up. There is a copper jumper that has to be changed one way or the other depending on what cord you use. It has to do with grounding the outer shell of the dryer independently in case of a short. It is legal to connect a 3 prong plug from all that I have seen for old work. The new law is when you are installing a new wire and outlet. I will say that I am not an electrician but have connected some in the past.

post #11 of 16
As Elmer Fudd once said - "be vearwee cahrfuhl".

Don't mix the neutral and ground connection on your appliances or you may find yourself in a shocking situation (okay, bad joke).

If your 240-volt, single-phase appliance needs (see below) a separate neutral and ground, you should install a new 4-wire circuit (hot-hot-neutral-ground) along with a new outlet (most likely a NEMA 14-30R outlet, if it's a 30-ampere circuit like a dryer).

Most new appliances have the option to connect and run on a 3-wire circuit (hot-hot-ground), but not all. This is to allow people with older houses to replace their appliances. Read your owner's manual carefully before hooking a new appliance to an old 3-wire circuit. This usually means connecting a 3-wire cord and plug to the correct terminals on your appliance. If your appliance has to have a 4-wire circuit, don't jump your hot and neutral at your outlet - it's illegal and dangerous.
post #12 of 16
Hi Folks
The issue of 3 or 4 wire installation is a question for the local code enforcement officer. Not the guy at the store or the tradesman at the coffee shop. Every city, state and town is differant. Safty is the first concern, that goes without saying. But the other big issue is your home owners insurance coverage in the event of an accident. If there is a fire or someone get hurt and there is a claim .....and the cause can be traced back to fauty wiring not done by a lic. tradesperson and/or inspected by the code enforcement officer then they do not have to pay the claim and the home owner can be held libel.
The 4 prong cord for elec. dryers has been around since the 60's and was code for used in so called moble homes for years. It has only been in the past ten or fifteen years or so that it has been adopted in the home front.
If you have a ten three (10/3) romex cable feeding the dryer then it is no big deal. 10/3 has a black, red, white and bare copper bond wire. black to L1, red to L2, white to common and copper to ground that simple. Red and black are hot leads, white is common and Oh did I say copper was ground or bond. Everything is marked so should be EZ to wire. Most new elec. dryers have a four (4) terminal block where the cord goes and the outlet comes mark and comes in a user friendly package with diagram. If you have a ten two (10/2) with ground the problems is that the bare ground wire becomes current carrying and unsafe. How does this happen... the two main componants of the elec. dryer are the heating eliment and the motor. The heating eliment is 220 volts (L1 and L2) the motor is only 115 volts (L1 and com.) If you were to open the dryer and put an amp probe on the black wire to the motor you would read the amps. drawn by the motor and if you put the amp probe on the white wire to the motor you would read the same amps. Hence the white common wire is currant carrying all the way back to the panle. Any currant carrying conductor must be insulated (can not be bare copper).
Changes to breaker panle.... here is the little grey area. For the most part no changes needed. But again local code. The only change would be the removing of a copper bus bar from the panle frame to the neutral terminal bus bar. (as long as the neutral bus is not being used as the ground bus) If the panle is fairly new there should be two (2) seperate bus terminals. one for ground and one for neutral.
Good luck and by safe
p.s. steve in mass, hope to make it to the ditch filing so we can finely meet
post #13 of 16
This hotlink will tell you exactly how to wire your 4 prong dryer with a three prong pigtail. Read the last paragraph and it will explain exactly how to do it.
post #14 of 16
Hi everyone,

Have a serious question. What is the safest way to connect a 4-prong plug-in onto a 3-wire cord.

We just built a very large exhaust fan for the plant floor. It has a 5hp electric 220v single phase motor running it. The only outlet near the open door we want to place the fan is a 4-prong receptacle. I need to run to the hardware store to buy the plug-in for the 3-wire cord (yes, the cord is VERY heavy duty). I assume the best thing is to buy the matching 4-prong plug...but which terminals inside it do you want to connect the black, white, and green wires?

post #15 of 16
Have a serious question. What is the safest way to connect a 4-prong plug-in onto a 3-wire cord

You don't. You hire a licensed electrician to do it right. You have the potential there of killing someone real quick if it isn't done right.
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