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different breaker/panel manufacturers


mgbinspect
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I simply say it is incorrect and doesn't comply with the mfg's specs. Usually, the specs are printed right on the label on the panel cover.

I used to not say anything, but as I'm getting older and wiser . . .well at least older, it's kind of a no-brainer to report whatever the mfgs. themselves print in black and white. Electrical panels, water heaters, furnaces etc. Its amazing the amount of info. one can obtain by just reading the directions!

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This same topic was discussed in another thread a year or so ago. The general consensus was that mixing breakers typically doesn't cause any problems, but that one should always defer to the manufacturer's data-plate. It is, of course, sorta fun to open the access cover and show a buyer in plain English that "Only breakers manufactured by Square D may be used in this panel . . ."

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I see it fairly often too. Today an electrician made a big deal about it. So, I'm just kinda feeling you guys out. He was explaining something about that one breaker having the potential to max the whole panel out. Frankly, it was a bit over my head, but it has me thinking anyway. As, Jim said, it's a pretty cheap fix and not worth the potential trouble to let it go, I guess.

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Originally posted by kurt

How often does this happen to you guys? I can't remember ever having found a panel w/different mfg. breakers(?)...

Wow, I find probably 50% of the time. I think its the electrical systems that are abused the most by the do-it-yourselfers and Harry Homeowners.

I think the FCC should ban the HG TV channel in the interest of national public safety. I mean, anyone watches a 30 minute epidose on whatever and they're ready to handle any remodel project.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Originally posted by kurt

How often does this happen to you guys? I can't remember ever having found a panel w/different mfg. breakers(?)...

I think the FCC should ban the HG TV channel in the interest of national public safety. I mean, anyone watches a 30 minute epidose on whatever and they're ready to handle any remodel project.

Man, do I ever agree w/that one. That channel has set us all back 30 years, especially the one's about "flippers". I mean, think about it; here they are, glorifying on TV, a bunch of half assed property destroyers doing the cheapest crap work possible.

Of course, doing things the right way would be boring TV; can't have that.....

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Okay, I'll be the bad guy. I don't write it up, even though there's no question that it violates the manufacturers' specs and instructions. In an accumulated 20 years or so of selling the stuff, tinkering and doing wiring, and inspecting I have yet to see one single instance where it caused any problem at all. After all this time, I ain't writing it up until I see one. I don't fault anyone else for doing otherwise, I'm just totally convinced this is a meaningless issue.

I've heard that some manufacturers are beginning to pay the extra money to have thier breakers tested (and therefore listed) to go in other brands of panel with like designs, but I can't confirm that at the moment. They may as well, 'cause there's isn't 2 cents difference in any of them on the inside (residential stuff).

Around here I rarely see a house more than 5 years old that doesn't have at least one odd breaker in it.

Brian G.

Wild Insane HI, Skating on the Ragged Edge of Disaster [:-masked]

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Originally posted by mgbinspect

I'm curious to learn what you guys write and call for when you find breakers from a different manufacturer than the panel?

I have a Murry panel with some GE breakers in it which seem to be good and tight?...

Here's what I wrote about this subject last July:

I’d advise treading carefully when condemning off-brand breakers. Sometimes, it’s not a violation.

If a breaker manufacturer pays for it, Underwriters Laboratories will test and “classifyâ€

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Hi,

I'm kind if in Brian's corner. I've gone down to the local hardware store, looked at the labels of panels and then pulled out the approved breakers made by the various manufacturers that had the same model/type number. I couldn't really see much difference between them and they were UL rated breakers and would fit fine in the other manufacturer's boxes and were, according to the label, approved for use. To me, one brand of HOM (I think that was the type) breaker looks like any other manufacturer's HOM breaker.

I just don't know what possible benefit a manufacturer would gain by insisting that someone use their own product if other products are built to the same specs and are specifically designed for use in that panel. I mean, it's like the manufacturer of a lamp insisting that you purchase only their brand of light bulb when any light bulb will fit. You know it's got to be that they just want to sell breakers.

It's my understanding that as long as the connection between a breaker and a bus bar is correct and clean that the 'reliability' of the panel lies with the breaker because it is the only mechanical device in the panel.

Has anyone ever heard of a bad thing that happened from using a breaker designed for use in certain panel that wasn't made by the manufacturer of the panel?

Isn't it possible that a breaker made by another manufacturer today might be better than the original? As an example, the Connecticutt Electric breakers for the FPE panels come to mind. Hell, if someone's going to be contrary enough to keep one of the damn FPE panels in their house, I should think that the new C.E. breakers would be superior to the FPE product.

Connecticut Electric UBI FPE Replacement Breakers

Or that new CE breakers would be superior to the original Zinsco or Pushmatic breakers.

Connecticut Electric UBI Zinsco Replacement Breakers

Connecticut Electric UBI Pushmatic Replacement Breakers

Then again, it might just be my crotchety side acting up.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If there's any more room in Brian's corner, I'll join the party there. [:-party] I call them if they don't fit the deadfront knock-outs, or otherwise appear to be an "odd fit" on the bus bar but, if everything else looks cool, nope.

I can't remember ever seeing a mix on new construction. I would probably be more picky there.

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All right. Now with the new information posted by Senor Jim K. and the rationale by Mike O., Brian G. and Richard Moore, I will likely re-think this issue. (not writing it vs. writing it.) I've never made a 'big deal' of it, just simply included the note in my report.

This is one of those issues that seems to get convoluted and confusing real fast given all the information posted by Jim K.

At the end of the day, my goal is to provide useful, helpful and (hopefully) clear information for my client. I don't think I can do that very well with a dissimilar breaker issue. In my opinion, its usually not useful to hand my clients weblinks, somewhat 'boring' literature and specifications, and different arguments for or against the issue.

I also can't start carrying every chart, listing or cross reference for every component in the course of a normal home inspection. Too much!!

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OK, here's my 2 cents worth...... If it dose not interfere with the interior or exterior panel being flush, (as I love finding breakers that were jambed incorrectly onto the bus), or when I "wiggle test" them, they dont drop out of the panel and dangle on the conductor, I generally will not write different manufacturers breakers unless they are significantly hotter (via infra red themometer) than the originals.

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Randy,

I agree.

We don't have to be perfect, we just have to be right. I say something along the lines of:

The electrical distribution panel was manufactured by GE, and the label on the inside of the cover says that only GE circuitbreakers are supposed to be installed in it. Several circuitbreakers in the panel were manufactured by other companies and likely void the warrantee and UL rating of the distribution panel and may even be unsafe. A licensed electrician should be employed now to evaluate the panel and replace the circuitbreakers that don't belong.

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Randy,

I agree.

We don't have to be perfect, we just have to be right.

I also agree, but I'm still not sure that it's right.

I'm glad that I look @ expensive dumps all day long where I don't have to split fine hairs about stuff like different mfg's. breakers. I much prefer finding foundations that are falling apart, shredded asbestos, knob & tube wiring, leaking plumbing, backed up sewers, etc. You know, real stuff.....

Is anyone aware of any actual/real problem w/differnt mfg's. breakers, other than mfg's. listing stuff? (and I don't mean poorly fitting deadfronts, or open knockouts; I mean real problems, i.e., burnout/fire

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If I wanted to play it safe I'd probably just note it in the report, but leave it out of the summary unless there was a real reason to put it in. CYA, but no red herring to distract from the more meaningful issues. State the observation and the potential issue something like Jimmy has, and end with one of the "If this concerns you have an electrician blah-blah-blah..." recommendations. Boiler plate could do that pretty easily, very little time spent.

Brian G.

CYA = Cover Your Assets [;)]

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Hey Kurt,

I don't know how often these things become real-world problems, but my guess is that it's an incalculably small risk. (Note to Goodman: that means eensy weensy)

But when there is a sign saying "For use with only GE circuitbreakers" written in plain English on the inside of the panel door, I don't want to be the guy who didn't point out the breakers that didn't belong. If I didn't say anything and someone picked up on it later, I'd feel bucketheadish, and I have enough problems with my self-image as it is.

Enjoy the holiday weekend lads,

Jimmy

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

I don't know how often these things become real-world problems, but my guess is that it's an incalculably small risk. (Note to Goodman: that means eensy weensy)

You can always tell when a man has small children. [:-propell[:-propell [:-mischie

Brian G.

I Gotta Go Potty Now [:-hspin]

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Can't disagree w/any of that.

I'll have to admit, though, that I wouldn't really care if someone outshot me w/a call on different mfg. breakers.

If it comes down to a bag race on who can find the most teeny tiny inconsequential stuff in a house, I'll probably lose.

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