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Water Heater Circuit Breaker


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In my area, a disconnect is no longer required on a water-heater circuit if the clip in the photos is installed on the breaker.

I don't understand the logic, and I don't actually understand what purpose the clip serves. It looks as if it would prevent the breaker from tripping, rather than adding any additional safety value.

I was tempted to push the breaker back and forth to see what happened, but I'm in new construction and don't want to destroy anything.

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That makes sense, but I thought the reason disconnects were required for water heaters and condensers was that the electrical panel wasn't always accessible to a repairperson.

Disconnects for water heaters aren't required around here if the heater is "in sight" of the electrical panel--when the breaker clip isn't used, clearly. It is a local requirement.

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In Bain's first photo, with the lever "down" wouldn't that prevent the breaker from tripping? What is this device actually called anyway?

It's called a breaker lockout.

It isn't possible to prevent a breaker from tripping by fastening the handle in any position. The breaker will trip regardless of the position of the handle.

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The NEC has required a line-of-sight disconnect or a lockout at the breaker for a long time. It shouldn't be a new thing.

You can't prevent a breaker from tripping by holding its lever in the "on" position.

Well, but that was my original question, which apparently I didn't word well. I didn't understand why having the lock-out obviated the need for a disconnect.

I didn't realize the NEC allowed "either/or." I had never seen one of those clips till about a year ago when a large-volume builder began using them in their houses.

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My understanding is that the point of either is to prevent some jamoke from coming along while someone is working on the appliance and saying "Hey this breaker is off" and flipping it on. If line-of-sight, the person about to be zapped will say "Hey idiot, step away from that disconnect and go find someone else to kill." If lockout, the idiot would have to get (small) bolt cutters to remove the lock to turn the breaker back on, hopefully causing him/her to say "Oh, someone must really want this turned off since they locked it off." Not quite as foolproof as it requires actually placing the lock. Don't know if this is the real reason or urban legend.

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My understanding is that the point of either is to prevent some jamoke from coming along while someone is working on the appliance and saying "Hey this breaker is off" and flipping it on. If line-of-sight, the person about to be zapped will say "Hey idiot, step away from that disconnect and go find someone else to kill." If lockout, the idiot would have to get (small) bolt cutters to remove the lock to turn the breaker back on, hopefully causing him/her to say "Oh, someone must really want this turned off since they locked it off." Not quite as foolproof as it requires actually placing the lock. Don't know if this is the real reason or urban legend.

Yes. The purpose is to prevent someone from casually re-energizing the circuit at an inopportune time.

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