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Thread: circuit breaker compatibility
01-31-2009, 10:26 AM #1
circuit breaker compatibility
The cost of new 3 pole circuit breakers is ridiculous.
Next week I am trekking to HGR. Used breakers are on my shopping list.
The panel is GE and the breakers snap in. Will any other brands fit the box or does it have to be GE?
I am looking for 20's, 30's, and 40's.
01-31-2009, 10:55 AM #2
The simple answer is yes. Murray and Bryant for certain. However using a different manufacturers breakers in a G.E. panel will void the UL certification. If there ever is a problem (fire, etc.) and the insurance inspector traces it to the panel, your insurance policy may not cover the damages.
01-31-2009, 11:36 AM #3
Testing used Breakers is not too difficult.
Simply go to the Flea-Market/Thrift Store and pick up a small assortment of Heaters and gang them together on the load side of a 3 phase 240/120 transformer. Monitor the current while stepping up the amount of current drawn through them.
01-31-2009, 12:10 PM #4
No experience on the 3 phase units - but I can attest to the fact that on single phase / household panels - that other flavours will work in similar boxes. But they just don't fit quite the same.
I have used GE breakers in whatever panels that we had out here for yrs. Not sure if they are Seimens maybe? Maybe something else? But the GE's did kinda fit and did send juice out the wires, and I am sure that they would trip just as good as if they were in a GE box. But they just wouldn't quite seat properly.
I finally went through and yanked all GE breakers.
So - I would excersize caution. Maybe the 3p units are more ISO'd?
Think Snow Eh!
01-31-2009, 01:25 PM #5
If you don't like the prices of the 120/208 stuff you should see the prices on 277/480 rated items and then if you need a higher A.I.C. rating the price really goes bonkers.
Nearly all of the 1" pattern width breakers will interchange as long as they are of the same snap in type. Bolt ins usually have so many different variations that it would be a fluke to find interchangeable breakers between different manufacturers.
I have never had the inspector(s) complain, flag, or otherwise say anything about a mix of brands of breakers in a panel. As long as everything is UL rated and NOT modified in anyway to make it fit you should be ok.
I consider panels and breakers other than Square D to be nothing more than expensive switches. Square D breakers are both thermal (overload condition) and magnetic trip ( short circuit) rated. Most if not all the "cheaper" (ge, ite, siemens, cutler-hammer, westinghouse, etc.) have only thermal protection meaning they will only trip after a prolonged overcurrent and the heat buildup in the breaker finally trips it. Short circuit one of the cheapies and you will see what I mean, wires fried in two and the breaker is still on and happy like nothing is happening.
I could look around my stash of breakers and stuff and see what I have in the way of 3 pole snap ins if you are interested.
01-31-2009, 03:16 PM #6
01-31-2009, 03:20 PM #7
Hmmmm - sounds like Federal.
Think Snow Eh!
01-31-2009, 03:20 PM #8
I just purchased a 15 amp Cutler Hammer 3 pole at a wholesale dealer for 95.00 new. I needed a 30amp unit later and I went to a local used circuit breaker shop, I bought a 30 amp unit for 40.00 and it is guaranteed for a year. The new one isn't guaranteed for a year---------
I have seen new 30 amp breakers on E Bay for around 75.00 shipping included.
01-31-2009, 05:47 PM #9
01-31-2009, 08:58 PM #10
Neighbor had his house completely gutted for Christmas last yr.
Doo to a Federal breaker - not breaking.
He was planning on upgrading the 35 yr old 100A service to a new 200A service, but hadn't gotten there yet. It werked out fine tho - he gots a new service - and the ins co pd for it!
... and new carpet, gable end, ... pretty much everything that wasn't in the basement! Not even so sure he didn't git new siding?
So go poke that Federal a few more times and see what you end up with a yr later.
02-01-2009, 01:25 PM #11
Federal Pacific stuff new was total and utter junk. There are places out there now that buy and "recertify" if that is really possible with FP stuff and then resell it. I have sold used stuff to acouple of those outfits but FP stuff gets put in the dumpster. If I recall it was lawsuits that really put FP out of business although I think they sold in Canada and some other places even after they stopped selling in the US.
You are correct about the general statement of some are and some aren't thermal-magnetic. I think you have to buy the Homeline series from Square D to get non-thermal magnetic. The others though you have to go to their higher end stuff to get thermal-magnetic. We are just getting done with an 18 story high rise and it is all Cutler-Hammer. From the switchgear to the house panels. The apt panels are of the cheaper end of CH's line and are of the 1" snap in style. The house panels are 1" style bolt in (thermal only) and we have already found that out of the many panels we have gotten two styles of bolt in breaker panels in the building. Talk about confusing. Originally the building was specked 100% Square D and no exceptions but in the after bidding cost cutting they wavered and allowed certain other brands.
My house when I bought it had a Sylvannia main panel in it, I replaced it within months of moving in with a 200 amp 40 circuit square d panel.
02-02-2009, 07:55 AM #12
on the breaker there is a "type"
something like BQE or THQB
if you stay with the right type your fine
works but don't seat right is a bad road to go down even if you got your dog with you
02-02-2009, 11:39 AM #13
The cost of new 3 pole circuit breakers is ridiculous.
I have 3 phase power coming into my residence and had a 3 pole breaker go bad. One of the 3 circuits had burned out, with the other 2 being OK. But the breaker was useless because of that 1 circuit.
Going to the electrical supply house (after I discovered Home Depot carries no 3 phase equipment) the price for a new breaker was $96.
So I returned to HD and bought 3 single pole breakers for a few bucks.
Mounted one breaker on left side of the panel and the other two on the right side. I drilled a hole through the triggers on the side by side pair and ran a screw through the holes. This locked the 2 together. Then all I did was use both hands to flip the 3 breakers on at the same time and it worked fine.
I have used this set up for over 4 years now with no more problems. People tell me that it is not code, but I don't give a flip about that. Does it work? Yes. Is it going to cause a fire? No. That's good enough for me...........pg
02-02-2009, 12:01 PM #14
In the event of an overcurrent on one leg, your handle tie setup may not trip all 3 legs open.
A 3-pole breaker contains an internal common trip mechanism that opens all 3 poles even if only one pole sees an overcurrent event.
Tying the handles together may appear to "work", but it isn't NEC compliant, and more importantly it may void your fire insurance in event of an electrical fire.
02-02-2009, 12:21 PM #15
I should clarify what I did with the 3 breakers.........
After turning the 3 on I removed the screw. Now the 3 sit as separate breakers and should 1 leg get an overload it should trip.
I know it is not the correct to hook it up, but after more than 4 years with no problems what else can I say.
I also use receptacles and plugs on my 3 phase equipment out in the shop that were purchased at Lowes and Home Depot.
These are 3 pole w/ grd receptacles and plugs used on some dryers and stoves for 240V single phase service.
Instead I just wire in a phase onto each connection on the receptacles & plugs for 3 phase service. This has worked fine for 11 years now with no problems.
Yeah, I know it is not 'code', but the receps are marked 'Three Phase' and when I move it all gets pulled out and taken with me.
This is much, much cheaper than buying 3 phase parts from a supply house.
I am not saying you should do it, only this is the way I do it..........pg
02-02-2009, 01:04 PM #16
Not sure I would advertise that...
Think Snow Eh!
02-02-2009, 01:37 PM #17
I'm not advertising anything Ox.
I am just saying what has worked for me the past 11 years plus.
There is always more than one way to get the cat skinned. All it takes is to stop and think about the problem and then be guided by common sense.
If you think I would do something to endanger my own family or personal property, or anyone else's for that matter, you need to recycle that thought again..........pg
02-02-2009, 07:15 PM #18
How long something "works" doesn't necessarily say anything about how safe it is.
I think the main risk here is that someone thinks a machine (or a motor, an elec cabinet, a switch, whatever..) is de-energized and safe to work on when it might not be. For example, you turn one or two of the three breakers off, but not the third one. In your shop, as long as you remember well, label things well, etc. the risk might be small. Someplace where many people might work with the equipment, this is a serious accident waiting to happen.
02-02-2009, 07:51 PM #19
02-02-2009, 08:26 PM #20
I bought a box of breakers off of E-bay, about 100 lbs worth. I have a number of 1, 2, and 3 pole breakers. Way more than I need. They came out of a manufacturing facility and most are used but some are new. Trouble is they are up at my shop and I wont be there until Thursday. I could post a list of what I have next week. I know I have 20 and 30 amp 3 pole breakers. Also have some 95 amp 2 pole breakers.
The square-D homeline circuit breaker box has a little extra tab that keeps these breakers from seating fully. A Seimens box will handle Square-D and the breakers I bought because it doesn't have the little tab.
I don't actually have a 3 phase breaker panel set up so I can't test these, but the price would be very reasonable.