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Can I run a 30 amp dryer on a 50 amp breaker?

 I have an existing old dryer from 1990 on a 50 amp circuit. I have a new dryer waiting to be installed. Can I swap out the plug on the new dryer to a three-prong and use this in the existing circuit breaker, or do I have to install a new four-prong circuit breaker?

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Posted 2013-12-04T18:44:10+0000  by venturellak venturellak

Hey venturellak,


Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!


Almost every dryer out on the market today in the U.S. is rated for 30 amps that are electric (not gas)...and no higher.


With that said, you'll need to make sure the wire as well as the receptacles are rated for 30 amps. I'm not sure what you mean by 'four-prong circuit breaker' but I'm assuming you are referring to the receptacle/plug.

4 ft. 4-Wire 30 Amp Dryer Cord

Changing out the breaker to 30 amps is one thing, but making sure everything on the circuit (receptacle/wire feeding it) is all rated for 30 amps. It sounds like you may of had a range or 50 amp service there. DO NOT install 50 amp plugs or receptacles onto this, nor leave the 50 amp as is.


This creates a fire hazard, since the dryer could overload and the breaker there now won't allow for it to trip properly.With that said, ALWAYS maintain 30 amps throughout the circuit, including your receptacle/plug, wire and breaker.


Do yourself a favor and check everything on the circuit to ensure everything is no higher than 30 amps. If this sounds too much to do, always get a licensed electrician near you to do the job.


Let me know if you have any further questions,


Posted 2013-12-04T19:28:31+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

You actually have two questions in there.  In years past 240v appliances like dryers were allowed to use the neutral as the equipment ground.  The rules have since changed and new construction is required to use 4 wires - hot, hot, neutral, ground.  In your case, the wiring is grandfathered so you wouldn't need to change that.  It's acceptable to use a larger gauge wire with a smaller breaker, plug, receptacle, etc. within practical limits of working with the wire and making proper connections.   You couldn't, for example, use 6 ga wire with an ordinary 15 amp receptacle because there're no way to ensure a good connection between the wire and receptacle. 


You DO need to change the breaker to 30 amps, the receptacle to 30 amps, dryer cord/plug to 30 amps, and wire the cordset properly to the dryer so that the neutral and equipment ground are bound.



Posted 2013-12-04T20:13:23+0000  by Adam444
Thank you for the response. I found out I have an old Kenmore gas dryer 11076912693. I believe it is 30 amps but I keep reading different answers online. if I switch the wire on my new 30 amp electric dryer, will it be an even swap for outlet purposes?
Posted 2013-12-07T03:53:32+0000  by venturellak

Hey again venturellak,


As long as the dryer cord itself is rated for 30 amps, be it in 3 or 4 prong form and making sure the breaker/wire is the same.


If the wires coming out of the panel/junction box is 4 wires, it needs to be 30 amps for an ELECTRIC dryer. Same as if it was 3 wires.


Using a plug from the dryer will need to correspond to how many wires (3 or 4) coming from the panel.


It all comes down to consistency and safety. Since you have a gas dryer, the electrical supply won't be as high in amps nor will be 240V.  It can be just as simple 110V receptacle on a single pole breaker. Thats because the only electrical source is needed for the controls and ignitor for the gas.


However, this isn't for all gas dryers. I looked up your Kenmore dryer and only came up with nil online. You'd really need to make sure what the exact specs are for your dryer since we know now its electric. I wish you told us it was gas earlier, thats a different configuration entirely than electric.


Can you post images of the plug or specs that is on the dryer so we can get more information?


Keep us updated,




Posted 2013-12-07T18:09:36+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

The Kenmore dryer you have uses 120v. (on a 15 or 20 amp circuit).  Your existing wiring is 240v on a 50 amp circuit.  You CAN NOT simply change the receptacle or plug on the dryer.   If you do it incorrectly you will ruin your dryer.


Depending on the skill and confidence working on electrical projects we may be able to walk you through the process of converting the circuit.  Understand that as part of this you will be working in the service panel.


If that is about your skill/confidence level, hire a licensed electrician to make the necessary changes.


I assume there's a gas line somewhere too???

Posted 2013-12-07T21:08:42+0000  by Adam444
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